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What qualifies as a white collar crime?

On Behalf of | Aug 6, 2019 | White Collar Crimes |

You likely hear a lot about white collar crime in California nowadays. But what you may not realize is that white collar crime is not a single crime. Rather, the term covers a variety of crimes, many of which constitute federal crimes as well as state crimes.

FindLaw explains that the crimes that fall within the white collar crime category are those that constitute someone defrauding someone else, usually by means of engaging in some type of deceit.

Example white collar crimes

As stated, white collar crimes consist of a variety of specific crimes, including the following:

  • Insider trading
  • Money laundering
  • Counterfeiting
  • Bribery
  • Copyright infringement
  • Ponzi schemes

They also include such crimes as tax evasion, identity theft, embezzlement, labor racketeering, etc.

How the term originated

Back in 1939, Edwin Sutherland, a sociologist, came up with the term “white collar crime.” Per his definition, a white collar crime is one “committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of their occupation.” One can only assume that he dubbed this category of crime “white collar” because most business people of the day performed their jobs while wearing business suits that included a white shirt or blouse.


Even though all white collar crimes consist of some kind of fraud, fraud itself is one of the crimes within this category. This word, however, can apply to the wrongful deception intended to deprive someone of his or her property or assets so the perpetrator can receive personal gain or to the person himself or herself who perpetrates the crime.

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.

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