Sometimes you have to go where life takes you. Other times, you go where your writing takes you.
When I decided to incorporate white collar crime into my mysteries, I knew a lot about technology and not so much about crime, except what I gleamed from watching the TV show. Now I know a whole lot more thanks to reseach.
What is white-collar crime? Lying, cheating, and stealing. That’s it in a nutshell, though it is generally defined as any financially motivated, nonviolent crime committed by business and government professionals.
Notice I said "nonviolent" and not "victimless." A single crime/scam/fraud can destroy a company, devastate an individual by wiping out his life savings, or cost investors billions of dollars (or even all three, as in the Enron case).
This type of crime is nothing new—it existed back in the Middle Ages—but the schemes are more sophisticated than ever as criminals take advantage of advances in technology.
White collar crime includes tax fraud, arson for profit, bankruptcy fraud, computer fraud, intellectual Property Violations, forgery, identity theft, counterfeiting, stock fraud, and antitrust violations, just to name a few. The list goes on and on.
For July of this year, Justice Department statistics reported 515 new white collar crime prosecutions. Of these, 96 cases filed in U.S. Magistrate Courts and 419 in the U.S. District Courts.
Here's a small sampling from one day this week:
10.08.15 Miami: Former bank VP pleads guilty in
wire fraud conspiracy
10.08.15 Miami: Pharmacy owner sentenced to 46
months in prison for role in $1.8 Million
Medicare fraud scheme
10.08.15 Cleveland: Three police officers charged with
fabricating evidence and stealing cash.
10.08.15 Louisville: Three Japanese auto execs
charged in conspiracy to rig bids, fix
10.08.15 Sacramento: Yuba City woman sentenced to
two years and nine months for posing as
a hospice nurse and treating more than
Government web sites list the following as “white collar” crimes:
• Federal Procurement Fraud
• Federal Program Fraud
• Tax Fraud
• Arson for Profit
• Other Insurance Fraud
• Financial Institution Fraud
• Bankruptcy Fraud
• Advance Fee Schemes
• Other Fraud Against Businesses
• Consumer Fraud
• Securities Fraud
• Commodities Fraud
• Other Investment Fraud
• Antitrust Violations - Other
• Computer Fraud
• Health Care Fraud
• Fraud Against Insurance Providers
• Intellectual Property Violations
• Insider Fraud Against Insurance Providers
• MEWA (Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangements) Fraud/MET
• Antitrust Violations - Airlines
• Antitrust Violations - Banking
• Antitrust Violations - Defense Procurement
• Antitrust Violations - Extraterritorial Application • Antitrust Violations - Finance Markets, • Telemarketing Fraud Other than Banking
• Corporate Fraud
• Identity Theft
• Aggravated Identity Theft
Now my only problem is deciding which crime to use in my next mystery!