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White Collar Crime Statistics

White collar crime is a term that is applied to nonviolent crimes committed in business situations by individuals, groups or corporations for the purpose of financial gain. Most white collar crimes are associated with some type of fraud, often involving a lending institution, such as a bank or insurance agency.

Examples of white collar crime include: antitrust fraud, bankruptcy fraud, bribery, computer fraud, credit card fraud, counterfeiting, embezzlement, identity fraud, insider trading, insurance fraud, kickbacks, money laundering, obstruction of justice, perjury and price fixing.

White collar crime is steadily on the rise, thanks to our technologically advancing society, which relies on the increased use of cellular phones and computers to access personal and financial information. The National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), a nonprofit agency that supports state and local police in their efforts to prevent, investigate and prosecute economic and high-tech crime, reports that while arrests for violent crimes have decreased in recent years, arrests for white collar crimes - especially fraud and embezzlement - have increased.

The rise in white collar crime incidents has also contributed to a rise in cost to the nation. According to National Fraud Center statistics, the cost of economic crime has risen from $5 billion in 1970 to $100 billion in 1990, and is only expected to increase as occurrences become more frequent. For example, the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Economic Crime Unit reports that telemarketing fraud, one of the fastest growing types of white collar crime, has become an increasing problem in recent years, victimizing millions of people at a cost of $40 billion annually.

Statistics from NW3C also approximate that one in three households is the victim of white collar crime, yet of these, only 41 percent report the incident. Of the small number reported, only 21 percent are handled by a law enforcement or consumer protection agency.

Experts believe that many people fail to report white collar crime because they are unaware that they have been victimized. Many of those who are aware of a suspicious incident are unsure of whether or not it is an actual crime, and of those who are knowledgeable, many are either unsure who to contact or believe no resolution will come from reporting the crime. NW3C encourages awareness on the part of both the public and law enforcement agencies as a preventive measure against the future of white collar crime.

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