White-Collar Crime: An Overview 

When the word ‘crime’ comes to mind, our initial instinct is to think about gruesome acts of horror and violence. However, not all crimes begin and end with violence. Such crimes don’t use modes of violence and can go under the watchful surveillance of regulatory authorities or law enforcement. It makes finding solid evidence to convict these white-collar offenders and bringing them to justice challenging. Possibly the pinnacle of such silent yet dastardly crimes would be offenses related to “white-collar crimes.  

It was in 1939 that the term ‘white-collar crime’ was first coined and has since become synonymous around the world. Although the phrase “white collar crime” wasn’t even established until 1939, the practise dates back thousands of years. White collar crimes are those perpetrated by government and commercial officials while acting in their official capacities. This clearly demarcates that White collar crime is not a recent occurrence, and it really costs more than the majority of street crime. However, despite the fact that white collar and corporate crimes have a huge negative impact on society, many of them only suffer minor, if any, penalties. This article will encompass many corporate and white collar crimes, organised crime, occupational crime, theories to explain these crimes, and techniques to look into, charge, convict, and punish white collar offenders in this course. 

These crimes usually involve the offenders preying on the innocence of gullible citizens while dealing false promises. In a 2022 Times of India article, former lawyer and investment banker Vijay Gokhale defined “white collar crime” as “crime committed by people who enjoy the high social status, great repute, and respectability in their occupation”. Leading government agencies like the FBI have claimed such crimes possess the potential to devastate the public and large business investors. The rise of ‘white collar crimes’ is especially a grave threat to third-world countries India. The rampant growth of such crimes is attributed to the vast gap between the rich and the poor. The lack of knowledge and education about such dangerous fraudulent schemes and their constant evolution make them difficult to counter.  

In India, the offenders of such crimes are motivated by the financial gains and greed which drive them to such lengths. With the Digital Age boom in India, it becomes challenging for law enforcement agencies to apprehend scammers. These crimes usually occur with the offenders playing on the emotions of their victims in disguise. The perpetrators of such crimes never come face-to-face with their victims, and secrecy of their identity becomes their main advantage. The offenders work in high-rise buildings in the comfort of their elegant offices and usually hide in plain sight. 

The rapidly spreading nature of such ‘white-collar crimes’ hampers the holistic economic development of a nation. They possess the threat of damaging international relations and tarnishing their reputation and image in the world sphere for a long time. 

When the word White-Collar Offenses is used its embarked that violations in white collar crime are just as detrimental to our society as any other more overt criminal activity. Because of “crime in the suites,” the public’s confidence in our governmental, economic, and financial institutions is in jeopardy. In White-Collar offenses investigation and successful prosecution of financial institution fraud cases are exceedingly challenging. Cases involving white collar crime frequently further obfuscate the facts under the appearance of legality than charges involving violent crime or other more egregious forms of misbehaviour. Before it is possible to conclude that a crime has been committed, extensive investigations are frequently needed. Investors in the commodities and stock markets have been the victims of a massive theft, maybe amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars. White collar criminals who commit crimes on a regular basis are employed by white collar criminals to conceal their behaviour or undermine trust while exuding an air of authority and respectability. These are the crimes when the culprits don’t always interact directly with the victims, leaving their identities unknown or hidden. They are even more detrimental to society since they are the same people who, given the prestige and notoriety associated with their alma mater, ought to serve as moral role models and an example to others. They are the ones who are meant to act responsibly, but regrettably they are defiling society and perpetrating such atrocities. Because these crimes are typically perpetrated while sitting in cold environments and behind closed doors in the posh chambers of modern corporate offices, there are very few eyewitnesses and it is difficult to gather proof. They are committed covertly and in a nonviolent but cold-blooded manner 

Supreme Court of India in State of Gujarat v/s Mohanlal Jitamalji Porwal and Anr  has very poignantly observed “the cause of the community deserves equal treatment at the hands of the court in the discharge of its judicial functions. The Community or the State is not a person-non-grata whose cause may be treated with disdain. The entire Community is aggrieved if the economic offenders who ruin the economy of the State are not brought to books. A murder may be committed in the heat of moment upon passions being aroused. An economic offence is committed with cool calculation and deliberate design with an eye on personal profit regardless of the consequence to the Community. A disregard for the interest of the Community can be manifested only at the cost of forfeiting the trust and faith of the Community in the system to administer justice in an even handed manner without fear of criticism from the quarters which view white collar crimes with a permissive eye unmindful of the damage done to the National Economy and National Interest”.  

The impact of white-collar crime on Indian industry is significant. 

Today’s fraudsters operate exploitatively and deviantly more than ever since they are motivated by greed and financial gain. The following new trends have been identified: 

• Scammers are getting younger on average 

• A surge in examples of fraud or other wrongdoings being revealed by whistleblowers 

• The spread of technology to evade discovery, such as using instant messengers and social media networks instead of emails 

• Innovative ways to receive kickbacks and favours 

Most white-collar offenders, it has been observed, have no prior criminal background and believe their deeds would go undiscovered because no one is looking. They also don’t think of themselves as the criminals and usually manipulate get caught before committing crimes unlike other ordinary crimes. 


Despite the complexities in uncovering the offenders, various types of white-collar crimes are encountered by law enforcement every year. Among the vast number of these crimes, some have gained notoriety more than others.

Ponzi Scheme: A well-known investment scam that presents false promises of offering investors very high returns. While the scammer initially pays those returns to the initial investors with the inflow of large sums of money, it falls apart once the flow of money decreases. The weak nature of the scam makes it susceptible to fail quickly while dealing many investors with huge losses.

Fraud: One of the most recognizable terms in the world, fraud schemes involve different schemes used to defraud people of their money. The fraudsters play on innocent victims to fork out considerable sums of money on the promise of huge returns. However, after receiving the huge sum, they never pay it back after the initial promises of return.

Insider Trading: A dirty business tactic, insider trading is done by scammers as traders, who possess advantageous material information at the peril and unknown to the public. The sensitive information grants the scammer a headstart in the financial markets at the cost of others.

Counterfeiting: The dark side of the progress in technology allowed scammers an opportunity to produce fake copies of original currencies. It’s a real challenge for governments around the world to monitor. Fake currency notes can hamper the growth and development of a healthy economy of any nation.

Some professions in which these crimes are practised :


Ex. Making of false medical certificates by the doctors, fake and intended prolong treatment in order to increase the bills, sex disclosure of the child in exchange of hefty money etc. 


Ex. Fabricating false evidence, threatening the witness of the opposition ,arrangement of professional alibies etc. 


Ex. underhand dealing with suppliers, passing of substandard work and maintenance of bogus report of the labour works


Ex. Collecting huge sums of money is the form of donations from students in exchange of admission, merit based admission is replaced by donations , collect huge amount of money in the name of college grants etc

Other crimes such as : Bribery, Identity theft, Embezzlement, Insider trading, Cyber crime, Intellectual Property,  Infringement, Counterfeiting, Credit Card Fraud, Extortion, Forgery, Health Care Fraud, Insurance Fraud, Investment Scheme, Larceny, Money Laundering, Tax Evasion Telemarketing Fraud, Bankruptcy Fraud etc are  contemporary examples of existing white collar crimes 

Government of India has made various legislations for identifying and holding account of white collar crimes. These legislation contains various punishment against the offendors. Some of the legislations are: 

  • Companies Act,1960 
  • Income tax Act,1961Indian penal code, 1860 
  • Commodities Act, 1955 
  • Prevention of corruption Act, 1988 
  • Negotiable Instrument Act  
  • Prevention of money laundering Act, 2002 
  • IT Act, 2005 
  • Imports and Exports (Control) Act, 1950 


These  are deliberate and planned conspiracies, such crimes are easily tolerant by the people of high status because they relate with them. Victims are usually the entire community or society for example: Nirav Modi case, Bernie Madoff etc.

It is really hard to detect such crimes as the people committing these are extremely smart it impacts social life and is hard to curb .

Here are some remedies that might be useful

  1. Creating public awareness against these crimes through the medium of press platform and other audio-visual aids, As mentioned above as well not many people know how they have been falling prey to this system. An intensive legal literacy programmes may perhaps help in reducing the incidence of white collar criminality to a considerable extent. 
  2. Special tribunals should be constituted with power to award sentence of imprisonment up to ten years for white collar criminals 
  3. Stringent regulatory laws and drastic punishment for white collar criminals may help in reducing these crimes. Even legislation with retrospective operations may be justified for this purpose. 
  4. A separate chapter on white collar crimes should be incorporated in the Indian penal code by necessary amendments so that white collar criminals who are convicted by the court do not escape punishment because of their high social status 
  5. White collar offenders should be dealt with sternly by prescribing stiffer punishments keeping in view the gravity of injury caused to society because of these crimes 
  6. There is an urgent need for a national crime commission which may squarely tackle the problem of crime and criminality in all its facets. 
  7. Above all, public vigilance seems to be the cornerstone of anti-white collar crime strategy . 


White collar crimes have two remarkable traits: first, they are nonviolent crimes, despite the fact that the offenders seek to assert power or feel entitled, and second, they are committed by people from higher socioeconomic classes. 

Nevertheless, even while the mastermind may be wealthy and have a higher social status in his line of employment, many crimes are also carried out by low-paid accomplices. Peer pressure and business culture frequently play a role in white collar crimes being committed. The rate of crime is rising more quickly as our civilization moves closer to modernity and the world experiences new technical advancements. In particular, there has been a huge increase in white collar crimes. These crimes are done everywhere, including in educational institutions and the medical field. 

Online fraud charges are growing alarmingly quickly as well. Due to these crimes in general and corruption in particular, India, a developing country, has struggled to guide its economy toward prosperity. 

The investigating officials require training so that they can learn the ability to track down these criminals because doing so would otherwise be a challenging, time-consuming task. Examining and scrutinizing the activity of the investigating officials is necessary to ensure transparency. The media can have a significant role in reducing the pace of increasing white collar crimes.  White collar crimes are thought to go unreported in large numbers. Therefore, if the media took a more active role in publishing frauds and scams at higher levels, exposing how those in higher positions within a company use their authority arbitrarily, and working to increase public awareness of white collar crimes and corrupt practises, the rate at which white collar crimes are committed would be reduced. 

Author: Shazia Shaikh

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