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White Collar Crime Prevention
The prevention of white collar crime is an important issue that organizations, whether public or private, are facing in their activity. The importance of white collar crime can be attributed to its effects. These types of crimes can determine financial effects, image disadvantages, or can threaten other people's jobs.
White collar crime definition
The "white collar crime" phrase was introduced in 1939 by Edwin Sutherland in a speech performed in front of American Sociological Society members. In that context, white collar crime was represented by crimes performed by respectable individuals with high social status within their occupation's activity (Cornell University, 2012). Currently, white collar crimes refer to a large range of nonviolent crimes committed for financial benefits, during commercial situations. Frequent white collar offenses are represented by computer and internet fraud, credit card fraud, phone and telemarketing fraud, insurance fraud, mail fraud, government fraud, tax evasion, securities fraud, bribery, insider trading, public corruption, money laundering, and others.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates white collar offenses cost to reach $300 billion on an annual basis. In most cases, penalties are received by individuals. However, there are situations where corporations are also sanctioned on accounts of such offenses. Among the most frequent penalties the state offers in such cases we can find home detention, fines, community confinement, paying prosecution costs, supervised release, or imprisonment.
White collar offenses are significantly influenced by technological advancements. With the spreading of Internet usage, so has white collar offence. Therefore, it is important to understand that much of such offenses' functioning have a lot to do with online activities. Preventative measures must also be oriented towards online activities.
White collar offenders currently have little to do with high social status or intellectual activities (Antar, 2014). Anyone with Internet knowledge above average can make a career in this field. Inside information is nice to have, but they are not mandatory. This makes it more difficult for security managers when attempting to prevent such offenses, as anyone can become a threat.
White collar offense approaches
There are several approaches used in reducing and preventing white collar offenses. It seems that their success is limited, since more and more offenders enter this landscape. In addition to this, it is important to mention the fact that much of the prevention and white crime reduction has been attributed to state authorities. It is also organizations' job to get involved in reducing this phenomenon. In their attempt to reduce this type of offense, state authorities are applying different approaches.
Criminal law approach
This approach refers to policing and prosecuting, deterrence, and sentencing of white collar offences. The federal government is obviously involved in more important offences, like drug related ones, but the complexity of white collar offences requires its involvement. Therefore, it is important that some of federal government's job is associated with local authorities.
The regulatory approach
This approach refers to establishing different sets of civil regulations that white collar offenders must comply with. However, authorities involved in this process are not well-known by the population, which makes it difficult for someone who has knowledge of such an offence to report it. In addition to this, it seems that such authorities do not refer the majority of offenders to the Department of Justice, which makes it difficult for the government to properly manage this phenomenon.
White collar offense organizational causes
There are several theories when approaching white collar offence prevention by security managers. One of these theories is represented by not reducing focus...
This is also because organizations in case are considered part of the cause that determines such offences. In other words, organizations significantly influence individuals' abnormal behaviors. In certain situations, organizations are considered to have encouraged such offences. An interesting study in the field has determined three causes through which organizations encourage white collar offences: incomplete information, psychological influences, and normalization of extreme risk.
This is the case of large corporation where each employee is in charge of certain parts of projects, instead of managing an entire cycle of work activities (Vance & Trani, 2008). This approach does not allow employees to understand how their work influences the organization. In other words, employees do not understand how a small mistake can have significant effects for the company.
There is a context where each individual is capable of breaking the law. It is considered that there are psychological influences within organizations that determine employees to commit white collar offences. Such an influence is represented by allowing employees to think that unethical behavior is allowed by top managers within the organization.
This is usually the case of decision making authorities that can send messages of encouraging such behavior to their subordinates. In other words, if a manager asks his subordinate to commit such an offence, this situation can become a normal and frequent behavior from that employee.
Another psychological influence that takes place within organizations is represented by the fact that because of the routine of the job, offences become an integral part of that routine. It is the case of employees having to verify many similar reports. Instead of thoroughly verifying each of them, they just superficially take a look at them. This can help them overlook important issues and participate in white collar offence activities, although this is not their intention.
An important psychological influence takes place in organizations with many employees. If their work is very automated, some of these employees can consider that their actions will not produce effects on their peers. They do not have direct access to the victims they are defrauding, cheating or harming, which makes the offences less important and easier to perform.
Normalization of extreme risk
Several studies on human errors at work have found that organizational cultures that favor misconduct are an important factor that encourages white collar offenders. That is called the normalization of risks and refers to situations where risky decisions are made frequently and in successful situations.
Preventing white collar offences
There are several actions security managers can take in order to prevent white collar offences. It seems that the most important strategy for preventing such offences is to focus on the situation around the offence. In other words, it is mostly efficient to discourage offenders, instead of punishing them once the action has been performed. One of the techniques used in such cases is represented by target hardening and refers to discouraging offenders by increasing their perceived efforts when participating in white collar offences.
Therefore, the best way of preventing white collar offence within organizations is to reduce opportunity. But this does not mean that organizations should increase surveillance of their employees. If surveillance would be increased, this would determine employees to think that the organization does not trust them and that they are considered offenders from the beginning, and must be watched. Organizations should be careful when selecting the measures for reducing opportunity. This is because they do not want to send distrusting messages to their employees. Such attitudes would only increase white collar offence intent within their employees.
The most important types of white collar offences that companies are facing are represented by trading secrets and important information, taking advantage of the company's financial information or that of its customers in order to steal money, embezzlement, and others. Such companies must guard themselves against employees that might involve in such actions, but also against outsiders that might hack the company's computer systems and steal important information. Economic espionage is an important phenomenon caused by increasing competition in most areas, and companies pay important amounts of money for inside information.
There are several other strategies that can be used by security managers in their attempt to prevent white collar offences. Such strategies refer to controlling access, whether it is physical or informational, performing check-ups on employees, investing in IT security, and others.
Access control systems
One of the easiest ways of preventing some of white collar offences by security managers is to develop access control systems. Basically, such systems restrict employees and visitors from areas where important information is stored. However, this does not mean that information cannot be stolen. People with access in those areas can steal information, but they are likely to be discouraged. This can be achieved by allowing their access based on individual cards with employees' name on them, connected to a system that records the entry and exit hours in restricted areas. This allows the company to verify each visit to restricted areas. In addition to this, individual identification can be performed based on retina scan or finger print recognition, but these are expensive technologies that few companies can afford. This is mostly the case of public organizations.
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