White collar crimes have established a reputation of being victimless-though the victims lose a chunk of their live savings, the perpetrator does not come face to face with their victims as one would if accused of robbery or assault. Perpetrators know that there are harming the market, not specific identified victims. This is why the psychology of the crime is different-there is no signal to the brain that a crime is going to be committed. Rather, there is a gradual slipping over the line until one does not even realize what they have done.
Unfortunately though, white collar crimes are treated seriously by the legal system and gone are the days where judges would give light sentences to those Ohioans convicted of committing white collar crimes. Where in 1958 40 percent of those sentenced under fraud guidelines received some prison time for their crimes, the number had increased to approximately 70 percent in 2013, as per the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s 2013 Report on Sentencing Trends. In fact, where the loss caused was at least $2.5 million, judges were handing out prison sentences of between five and 17 years in 2012. This demonstrates that judges are getting harsher, not lenient.
There is also an assumption that prosecutors are afraid of going after powerful and reputed white collar criminals, as they fear collateral consequences. But the reality is that prosecutors have begun adopting a new strategy-rather than dive in head first, they have begun relying on extensive undercover investigative techniques. Wiretaps are also an important tool in gathering evidence.
The assumption that white collar crimes are victimless therefore not pursued seriously by prosecutors is false and those facing charges should not take them lightly. The penalties associated with a conviction are harsh and can severely impact the remainder of one’s life.