Did you know that a single shady threat is behind a potential $1.7 trillion in annual losses for American businesses each year? Alarmingly, the number can only be estimated because as many as 90% of instances of this particular flavor of crime go unreported. And who or what is this sly and shadowy danger? It’s none other than white collar crime. So, would you know how to protect yourself against it, and do you have effective measures in place?
Understanding the Enemy: What Is White Collar Crime?
The term “white collar crime” was coined back in 1949 by a sociologist named Edwin Sutherland. He defined it as a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in an era that typically saw white-collar workers hold office positions and blue-collar workers hold industry roles. Crucially, white collar crime is usually non-violent in nature, instead targeting financial gain, while being perpetrated by individuals, businesses, organizations, and government officials alike. Examples include but are not limited to:
- Ponzi schemes
- Accounting fraud
- Email fraud
- Identity theft
- Money laundering
- Data theft
- Insider trading
- Securities fraud
All too sadly, the Lauth team’s extensive experience in corporate workplace investigations tells us that we are living in an era of rampant white collar criminality escalation. The usual suspects of Ponzi schemes, accounting and securities fraud, money laundering, and insider trading are joined by an ever-expanding realm of internet scams, ranging from cryptocurrency scandals to fraudulent email networks.
While some of these schemes target individuals, many set the assets of businesses and enterprises in their crosshairs. Without stringent preventative measures, many companies don’t realize the scale of the risk until it’s too late—and are left trying to stay afloat while desperately trying to claw back a portion of their losses and field potential liability if customer or investor assets have been lost.
The Bottom Line on White Collar Crime Today
Because of the scale of the threat, white collar crime is taken very seriously at a federal level, with the FBI, SEC, and NASD working with state authorities to bring perpetrators to justice. Penalties for committing a white collar crime include prison, fines, and paying restitution—although many cornered white collar criminals submit to negotiated repayment programs, avoiding the involvement of law enforcement agencies altogether. As we touched upon earlier, data reveals that this is clearly a path that many organizations prefer.
However, out-maneuvering the perpetrator of white collar crime requires deft workplace investigations, and most organizations call in expert investigatory assistance in this area. Skilled and licensed corporate investigators can carry out forensic accounting, gather evidence, conduct suspect surveillance—even going undercover when necessary to paint a clear picture of the crime and provide proof that will stick. In this vein, a high caliber of documented evidence is your best protection against loss of assets and potential liability for the company itself.
Better yet, prevention is an excellent place for the savvy business owner to begin. Criminal behavior is bred in toxic working environments and when un-vetted employees are allowed to join your workforce. So, alongside rapid, discreet, and diligent investigations of white collar crime, the team here at Lauth Investigations International also assists with preventative corporate culture audits and comprehensive background checks—drawing on many of the same databases used by law enforcement agencies to keep your company’s assets safe.
Do you need support in navigating the choppy waters of white collar crime? From effective prevention to covert workplace investigations, the seasoned corporate team here at Lauth Investigations International can provide just the skillset required to help you reach dry land unscathed. Reach out today to discuss your needs and receive no-obligation guidance on our diversity of investigative and preventative services.