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Modern Criminal Justice - White-collar Crime

business person deceit collapse

White-collar crime refers to a person who uses his position of authority and responsibility in an organization, such as a business, to commit crimes of fraud and deceit. Fraud and deceit are intentionally deceiving a person or persons for one's own economic benefit. White-collar crimes can be carried out in most any business ranging from small automobile repair shops to the healthcare industry, financial institutions, and large corporations.

White-collar crime came to the public's attention in the 1980s with the collapse of the savings and loan industry, banks that primarily loaned money for building construction and home ownership. The collapse affected the financial health of millions of Americans. Other high-profile cases followed, including criminal charges against executives of Worldcom, a communications giant, and Enron, a company that controlled the flow of electrical power to customers, and the insider trading case against celebrity Martha Stewart (1941–) in 2004.

Given the national and international standing of the corporations involved, state courts were not those best equipped to deal with white-collar crime. It has become the concern of the Justice Department and the FBI to coordinate numerous organizations nationwide to track business dealings and irregularities. (See chapter 6 on white-collar crime for more information.)

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