Analyzing White-Collar Crime

To complete this assignment:

Analyze the data provided in the graphs and charts in the media piece, White-Collar Crime: Data and Trends, linked in the Resources.
Answer the following questions: (Note: Your responses do not need to be in essay format; rather, number and type your responses in a Microsoft Word document and include a title page and reference page. As you respond to the questions, use at least one of this unit’s course readings to support your points, and cite any readings used in your reference page. You do not need to cite the chart sources in your reference page.)
In examining the recent data on white-collar crime, what key trends or patterns do you notice? Describe three trends or patterns, and share your thoughts on the sociological factors that may be contributing to them.
Based on the FBI data, mortgage fraud cases increased dramatically from 2005–2010. Discuss why you think this increase occurred.
Do you think that the data accurately reflects the extent of white-collar crime in the United States? Why or why not? Consider the factors that would make collecting accurate data on white-collar crime challenging.
What does the data in the chart “Public Perception of Crime” tell us about how people viewed white-collar crimes in 2010? Would you expect people to view white-collar crimes more seriously today than in 2010 or in the 1980s or 1990s? Why or why not? You might take a look at the results of our class interactive poll, How Deviant Is It?, in Unit 1 as a frame of reference.
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Key Terms

White-Collar Crime: Illegal acts characterized by fraud—deliberate deception or unlawful gain—including corporate fraud, health care fraud, mortgage fraud, insurance fraud, public corruption (government fraud), securities and exchange fraud, and mass marketing fraud.

White-Collar Deviance: Both criminal and noncriminal offenses carried out by higher-status individuals as part of their occupation for personal gain or on behalf of the corporation.

Corporate Fraud: Includes falsification of financial information, self-dealing by corporate insiders (such as insider trading), and obstruction of justice (such as impeding the inquiries of the Securities Exchange Commission).

Mortgage Fraud: Involves material misstatement, misrepresentation, or omission relating to the property or potential mortgage relied on by an underwriter or lender to fund, purchase, or insure a loan.

Securities and Commodities Fraud: Includes market manipulation, high-yield investment fraud, pyramid schemes, Ponzi schemes, hedge fund fraud, and late-day trading.

Health Care Fraud: Includes billing for services never rendered or padding insurance claims with charges for procedures that did not take place, performing medically unnecessary services solely for generating income through insurance payments, falsifying patient diagnoses, and accepting kickbacks for patient referrals.

Fast Facts

There have been no comprehensive national studies that have pinpointed an exact estimate of the cost of white-collar crime. According to the FBI, white-collar crime costs more than $300 billion per year. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners puts the annual cost of fraud and abuse to more than $400 billion annually. These statistics are likely underestimating the total cost of white-collar deviance, since many acts of fraud go unreported or uncovered.

While the total dollar loss attributed to mortgage fraud is unknown, according to the last FBI Mortgage Fraud Report (2010), it’s estimated that more than $10 billion in mortgage loans originated with fraudulent application data.

In 1995, the average federal sentence for persons convicted of fraud was 18.3 months in prison. By 2005, the average had increased to 23.6 months. During this same time period, the average sentence for non-white-collar crimes increased six-fold, from 20.8 months to 126.7 months in prison.
–Andrew Weissmann and Joshua A. Block, “White-Collar Defendants and White-Collar Crimes,” The Yale Law Journal

Between 1991 and 2011, the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports indicate that the overall trend for conventional crime was a decline or leveling off; during this same period, fraud and other forms of white-collar crime increased.

Losses to individual workers and investors as a result of the Enron collapse were estimated at up to 50 billion.
–David O. Friedrichs, Trusted Criminals: White Collar Crime in Contemporary Society

According to Syracuse University’s July 2015 TRAC Report, federal white-collar crime prosecutions are at a 20-year low. The projected Fiscal Year total number of prosecutions is 12.3 percent less than the previous year, and down 29.1 percent from 2010.

Crime Data

Corporate Fraud Pending Cases

Fiscal Year Pending Cases
2002 291
2003 279
2004 332
2005 423
2006 490
2007 529
2008 545
2009 592
2010 661
2011 726

Financial Crimes Reports to the Public, FBI, 2002-2009 and 2010-2011


Corporate Fraud Funds Secured by FBI

Fiscal Year Fines (in millions) Restitution Orders (in billions)
2002 $2.8 $.535
2003 $16.2 $1.5
2004 $0 $.000655
2005 $60 $.091
2006 $14.2 $1.2
2007 $38.6 $12.6
2008 $199 $8.1
2009 $5.4 $6.1
2011 $16.1 $2.4

Financial Crimes Reports to the Public, FBI, 2002-2009 and 2010-2011


Indictments and Convictions of Corporate Criminals

Fiscal Year Indictments Convictions
2005 497 317
2006 171 124
2007 183 173
2008 158 132
2009 153 156
2011 242 241

Financial Crimes Reports to the Public, FBI, 2002-2009 and 2010-2011


FBI Mortgage Fraud Pending Investigations

Fiscal Year Pending Investigations
2005 721
2006 881
2007 1204
2008 1644
2009 2794
2010 3129

2010 Mortgage Fraud Report, FBI


Securities and Commodities Fraud

Fiscal Year Pending Cases Indictments Convictions
2003 937 342 260
2004 987 392 304
2005 1139 323 361
2006 1160 257 236
2007 1217 320 289
2008 1210 357 296
2009 1510 412 306
2010 1703 * *
2011 1846 520 394

*Data not provided in the FBI report


Financial Crimes Reports to the Public, FBI, 2002-2009 and 2010-2011


Health Care Fraud Pending Cases

Fiscal Year Pending Investigations
2007 2493
2008 2434
2009 2494
2010 2573
2011 2690

Financial Crimes Report to the Public, FBI, 2010-2011


Public Perception of Crime

Participants in the 2010 National Public Survey on White Collar Crime, conducted by the National White Collar Crime Center, were asked to compare the seriousness of the 12 scenarios (listed below) to a traditional “baseline” crime of stealing a parked car worth $10,000. Respondents rated each scenario on seriousness scale ranging from 1 (“Much Less Serious) to 5 (“Much More Serious”). The median value of 3 indicated that the respondent believed the crime in question was “just as serious as” the baseline of auto theft. Below are the mean rankings:

Crime Mean Ranking
Espionage 4.8
False Drug Label 4.8
Identity Theft 4.3
Market-Rigging 4.3
Insurance Overcharge 4.2
Embezzlement 4.1
Assault 4
Hacking 3.9
False Charges 3.8
Burglary 3.7
Overbilling 3.7
Counterfeit Sales 2.9

2010 National Public Survey on White Collar Crime, National White Collar Crime Center

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