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White Collar Crimes – Cyber Security

Last Updated : 24 Apr, 2023
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Every time we read about White Collar Crimes, there is always a newer and bigger one getting exposed. One is forced to ask a question- Why do they do it? Why do individuals get engaged in such self-destructive misbehaviors? 
White-collar crimes encompass a whole slew of offenses that might seem different but certain characteristics of them unite them under the same umbrella. White-collar crimes have evolved their dimension with the passage of time. The major transformation was seen when the internet came into existence. 


In this article, we will discuss the following topics: 

  1. What are White-collar cybercrimes?
  2. Fusion of White-collar crimes and Cybercrimes
  3. Motivation behind White-collar cybercrimes
  4. Examples of White-collar cybercrimes
  5. Problems of White-collar crimes


What are White-collar crimes?

White-collar crimes refer to the non-violent, illegal activities that are committed by individuals or businesses for financial gain or personal gain. Some of the examples are- bribery, insider trading, cybercrime, credit card fraud, copyright infringement, and many more. 
White-collar criminals are physically distant from the victims and sometimes such victims are shapeless and amorphous. They are driven by greed, invincibility, and a desire to win at all costs. The damage white-collar criminals cause to society can be massive. 


Fusion of White-collar crimes and Cybercrimes

Most numbers of crimes that we see on the internet are white-collar crimes as they don’t involve any sort of violence and the majority of them are financially motivated. Before the internet age, these crimes were committed outside the computer but now they are occurring at a wide pace by the source of the internet and the internet world. Any crime committed on the Internet is referred to as Cybercrime, and when such crime is non-violent and especially motivated towards financial gain then it becomes a White-collar cybercrime. 


Motivation behind White-collar cybercrimes

Academic research shows that environmental cues and signals can nudge individuals to behave differently when faced with ethical choices. Work environments in an organization can elicit good or bad behavior out of individuals. Certain individuals fail to resit to the temptations and compromise their ethical values. Below are some environment cues and signal that can trigger a white-collar behavior: 

  • Poorly designed job incentives: Financial professionals are compensated and rewarded for a short-term degree of profits. To maximize their performance-based compensations, some adopt the way of circumventing the existing laws.
  • Management unconcern towards ethics: Investment firms use expert networks to legitimize the use of insider information for stock trading. Such cues lead analysts at such firms to violate the security laws.
  • Unethical behavior perceived as harmless: Many stock traders view insider trading as a victimless crime. For example- many individuals committing accounting fraud start with a justification that “it is a one-time event”.
  • Aggressive goals without goalposts: Management directives “do whatever it takes” to achieve aggressive goals open up the possibility of following unethical tactics. It is very important that the goals are delineated with clear boundaries that state clearly what is not allowed.
  • Moral Hazard: When others are there to bear the downside, risk-takers have incentives to undertake riskier decisions. For example- Personal property insurance policies can create incentives to generate and file false policy claims.
  • Motivated Blindness: The failure to acknowledge the unethical behavior in order to avoid consequential self-harm can sometimes lead to white-collar crime. For example- Rating agencies, who rate financial instruments as paid services, can have an incentive to bias their ratings favorably.
  • Stealing public or private entities: Stealing from a large company or an organization can be alluring. Sometimes Doctors, pharmacists, and patients conspire to fraud the system. For example- generating bills for the services that are not rendered, overutilization of the services, and many more.


Examples of White-collar cybercrimes

In this section, we will be discussing a few examples of white-collar cybercrimes. 

  1. Economic espionage and trade secret theft: These are also white-collar crimes. It is illegal to steal important plans, ideas, designs from the other person for financial benefits.
  2. Credit-card fraud: This refers to stealing another person’s credit-cards details to make purchases.
  3. Telemarketing and Mail Fraud: Telemarketing fraud involves using a phone to conduct fraudulent stealing to obtain personal information for identity theft. They frequently target senior citizens. For example- requesting to deposit advance fees to claim a phony lottery prize or government loan. 
    Mail fraud is similar to the telemarketing fraud except that it uses mail as a medium to construct the recipients into sending money or sharing personal information.
  4. Identity Theft: This involves assuming another person’s identity information such as name, address, date of birth, or Aadhaar number to commit financial fraud. Fake passports and Fake IDs are commonly used to commit crimes and evade captures.
  5. Phishing: Phishing takes place by impersonating someone else electronically. It can be done by using someone’s login information like user id, a password for gaining access to personal information or by application of digital signature of someone else in the electronic contracts without authorization or by cloning the sim cards of mobile forms so that account can be formed using other’s information.
  6. Computer Intrusion: It is one of the most common white-collar cybercrime that occurs instantly on the Internet. It involves accessing of computer or internet without having proper authorization. Hackers attack and try to obtain personal information for monetary benefits.
  7. Insider Trading: This involves using non-public information to make investment decisions or trading securities for personal financial gain.
  8. Embezzlement: This refers to stealing funds or property from an organization or individual, often through electronic means such as wire transfers or fraudulent invoices.
  9. Money Laundering: This involves using various methods to disguise the origin of illegally obtained funds, such as through cryptocurrency transactions or offshore bank accounts.
  10. Cyberstalking and Harassment: This refers to using digital technologies to stalk or harass individuals, such as sending threatening emails or messages, spreading false rumors, or posting private photos or videos online without consent.
  11. Intellectual Property Theft: This involves stealing or copying copyrighted materials, such as software, music, or films, for personal financial gain.
  12. Ransomware Attacks: This involves using malware to encrypt an individual’s or organization’s data and demanding payment in exchange for the decryption key.
  13. Cyberbullying: This refers to using digital technologies to bully, harass, or intimidate individuals, such as through social media, messaging apps, or online forums. 

Problems with White-collar cyber crimes

In this section we will discuss a few problems associated with white-collar cybercrimes: 

  • The laws regarding white-collar cybercrimes are far-reaching, constantly changing, and often difficult to understand.
  • Law enforcement often lags behind the technological world, and prosecutors may seek harsher charges and punishments for crimes they don’t quite understand.
  • Investigation for these crimes takes a very long time, maybe a month or a year.
  • White-collar cybercrimes often involve complex financial transactions and digital evidence, which can be difficult to trace and analyze.
  • Many white-collar cybercriminals operate across international borders, making it difficult to prosecute them under a single jurisdiction.
  • White-collar cybercrimes can cause significant financial and reputational damage to individuals and organizations, but victims may not always be aware of the breach or may not report it to authorities.
  • Cybercriminals may use sophisticated techniques such as social engineering and phishing to trick individuals into giving up sensitive information or access to their computer systems.
  • The widespread use of digital technologies and online communication has increased the scope and frequency of white-collar cybercrimes, making it difficult for law enforcement to keep up with the volume of cases.
  • The cost of investigating and prosecuting white-collar cybercrimes can be high, and government agencies may not always have the resources or expertise to pursue these cases effectively.
  • The potential for data breaches and other cyber attacks can create a sense of mistrust and uncertainty among consumers, which can have a negative impact on businesses and the broader economy.

The innovation of technology has made our life much sorted and easier but on the other hand, it has also given rise to white-collar crimes in the internet world. These crimes are typically unidentifiable as they do little alterations but their overall impact is much more than we think. One day we will definitely have regulations that will restrict this fusion of white-collar and computer world. 


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