Related Definitions

White-Collar Crime

What does it mean to commit a white-collar crime?

The word "white-collar crime," reportedly coined by criminologist and sociologist Edwin Sutherland, has become synonymous with a wide range of business and government crimes. In addition, the term is used by Edwin to define the sorts of crimes perpetrated by "persons of respectability" – those who are considered to have a better social rank.

Furthermore, it is a sort of non-violent crime in which the main motive is usually financial. Criminals who commit white-collar crimes typically take up a powerful professional job with high pay.

The primary goal of these crimes is to get real estatecash, or personal or business gain. It could reference a lot of crimes, including subordinate money laundering, as an instance of white-collar crimes.

White-collar employees work in a suit and tie, sit at a desk, and avoid physical labour. They do, on average, earn more money than blue-collar professionals. White-collar employees have a high degree of education and the expectation of landing a well-paying job with benefits. 

Furthermore, concealment, deception or a violation of trust and confidence are hallmarks of these types of crimes, which do not rely on the use or threat of physical force. These aren't crimes without a victim, and they've shown to be highly harmful. A single fraud might wipe out a family's wealth, bankrupt a firm, or lose billions of dollars to investors.

White-collar jobs come with certain expectations. For example, such occupations are frequently expected to promote more senior positions as managers or executives. In addition, a white-collar job is expected to pay greater earnings and can grow its revenue swiftly with further progress.

Furthermore, most white-collar crimes are found through internal surveillance, auditing, or reporting systems. Internal irregularities are reported by telephone or e-mail by whistle-blowers in foreign and corporate firms, who then begin an internal investigation. There are, of course, a few issues. For instance, high-status employment is commonly self-regulated in some sectors, and a firm's primary goal could be to cover up and shield offenders rather than punishing them.


  • White-collar crime is a sort of non-violent crime in which the main motive is usually financial.
  • The primary goal of these crimes is to get real estate, cash, or personal or business gain.
  • Concealment, deception or a violation of trust and confidence are hallmarks of these types of crimes, which do not rely on the use or threat of physical force.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the various kinds of white-collar crime? 

White-collar crime comprises a wide variety of offences, including the following: 

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Ponzi scheme

A Ponzi scheme, named after Charles Ponzi, the first perpetrator of this kind of scheme, is a financial fraud that promises investors incredibly high profits. Then, newly deposited money from the new investment pays similar returns to first-time investors.

The scheme fails when a fraudster cannot lure enough fresh consumers while paying old ones, leaving many investors with significant losses.

Price fixing

It is a contract between two parties to set prices for a specific item, evading free market transactions.

Insider trading

Insider trading occurs when traders have access to materials or non-public data that gives them an edge in the financial market. 

A worker at an investment bank, for instance, could be aware that firm A is planning to take over firm B. Workers might purchase shares in firm B in the hopes that once an acquisition is made public, the share price will skyrocket.


Embezzlement, often called larceny, is a form of theft that could range from a single worker stealing money from a cash drawer to the illegal activities associated with the transfer of money from the firm's accounts to the embezzler's accounts.


It means taking somebody's real estate without having to pay for it or return it.

Money laundering

Money laundering is a service required to suit the needs of criminals dealing with significant sums of money. This entails funnelling the cash via various accounts and eventually into genuine businesses. It is mixed in with legitimate business income and can no longer be traced back to committing a crime.

It also enables offenders to hide and acquire wealth, avoid punishment, dodge taxes, generate more revenue through reinvestment, and finance more illegal activities. Moreover, it might jeopardise financial institutions' and systems' integrity and stability, hinder foreign investment, and disrupt global capital flows.


It's a broad term referring to various strategies used to deceive people of their cash. This could take the shape of credit card fraud, insurance fraud, or healthcare fraud, among other things.


Spying, often known as espionage, is usually a white-collar crime. For instance, a foreign government agent seeking a part of Samsung technology could contact a Samsung worker and agree to pay the worker $20,000 in exchange for a copy of the requested material.


It happens when someone accepts or offers a bribe in exchange for some gain.

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What is the distinction between white-collar and other collars?

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Blue-collar employment is frequently contrasted with white-collar jobs. These jobs are typically defined as those that require physical labour and are compensated on an hourly basis. Servicing, construction, production and the mining sector are all examples of this category.

A person with this type of job is classified as a working-class person. The blue-collar employee is frequently regarded as having a lower status than a white-collar employee who might work behind a desk in the service sector. In contrast, the blue-collar worker gets their hands filthy doing physical labour.

Employees in the conservation and sustainability industries are known as green-collar employees. Store salespeople, waiters, secretaries, receptionists, and primary school teachers are instances of pink-collar professionals.

Gold collars could be found in the specialist fields of pharmaceuticals and law, perhaps as a nod to the high pay these fields require. On the other hand, engineers are considered grey collars since they are nominally white-collar yet perform blue-collar chores daily as part of their employment.

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