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What drives people to become involved in white collar crime?

People who engage in white collar crime rarely, if ever, see their victims.

Anonymity is one reason that seemingly responsible people become motivated to attempt this kind of illegal activity, but there are other, more subtle drivers.


Managers may push their underlings to do whatever it takes to meet expectations and make the quarterly numbers look good. With comprehensive health care insurance, doctors line their own pockets by seeing an opportunity to overbill for services or overprescribe the medication that patients need. These are but two examples of temptations that are often present in white collar crime. Someone may feel it is wrong to steal an orange or a comic book and would never do such a thing, but he or she may not hesitate to file a false claim or engage in other practices.

Maximizing incentives

In the financial world, workers receive compensation for the profits they generate. Some employees know how to get around existing laws in order to maximize their performance-based benefits. In fact, a work environment can draw out different types of behavior, and employees who are more prone to temptation may see the chance to engage in practices that may eventually lead to more daring criminal acts.

Disagreement with the law

Many executives are not on board with the existing securities laws, the bribery laws or even the doping laws that affect athletes. For example, trainers and coaches may quietly support the practice of doping. It is a group-think attitude, and both advocates and practitioners tend not to worry about the consequences.

The unseen victim

White collar offenders often believe that what they are doing constitutes a victimless crime. One such example is insider trading. There are definitely victims, but since the stock trader never sees them, he or she feels that the behavior does not harm anyone.

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