Tales of Justice

Corporate Crime and Punishment

  • Alvernia Criminal Justice

white collar crimeWhile television dramas give many Alvernia students interested in a Criminal Justice Administration  degree at least a passing sense of street-level criminal activity, the world of “white collar” crime remains largely unseen by average Americans.

Coined in 1939 by sociologist Edwin Sutherland, white collar crime describes “a range of frauds committed by business and government professionals.” The lines between white collar and cyber crime have blurred — since all business is now done, in part, online.

As a criminal justice student, you will study white collar crime through a 2014 lens of technology including the area of computer forensics, cyber and financial crime investigations and intelligence analysis.

Some of the largest and most well known acts of corporate crimes in American history have been committed within the last fifteen years. These include the Enron scandal—the most complex white-collar investigation in the FBI’s history, involving millions of seized dollars and the conviction of 22 people for their involvement — as well as the crimes committed by Bernard Madoff who, at the age of 71, was sentenced to 150 years in prison for his multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme in 2009. Madoff pled guilty to 11 felony counts — securities and investment adviser fraud, money laundering, false statements, perjury, theft from employee benefit plans and more.

Although typically nonviolent, these kinds of crimes have affected millions of Americans and involved the switching hands — counterfeiting, forgery and fraud — of billions of dollars. The FBI says, “It’s not a victimless crime. A single scam can destroy a company, devastate families by wiping out their life savings, or cost investors billions of dollars (or even all three, as in the Enron case).”

In the Alvernia Bachelors in Criminal Justice Administration course in White Collar Crime, students study the work of several theorists like Sutherland, best known for identifying white collar crime and applying his Differential Association Theory. Students will dive into the various illegal activities that fall under the white collar crime umbrella, and they will examine case studies in subjects like blackmail, fraud, embezzlement and others.

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