Recently, white collar crime has captured headlines between the trials of Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty to $20 million in bank fraud and other crimes. Although both men have faced prosecution for their crimes, neither man has divulged the motivations behind the fraud.
Why would two high-profile men risk their careers to commit such crimes?
Their motivations probably aligned with most people’s reasoning behind the white-collar crime. According to Forbes, there are several common motivations behind white-collar criminals.
Reacting to a poor working environment
Professionals in the business and finance industry expect busy schedules with high-performance incentives. Unfortunately, these professionals may skew the system to reach unrealistic business goals or boost their personal paychecks. For example, if management offers financial incentives for the highest salesmen, the staff may use unethical techniques to reach those incentives.
There is also a possibility of poor ethics on the management team. Employees react and reflect their leaders, and if their leaders do not practice proper business ethics, it’s not surprising workers may repeat those practices.
Vague moral standards
It’s true that some employees may react to poor management practices. However, it’s also true that some employees may have vague ethical guidelines all along. Some executives may have a false belief that everyone misbehaves, especially in the financial world, and they use this belief to justify misappropriate actions, like a fraud.
A weak moral ground may also lead influential business executives to see themselves as “invincible.” They start to believe that laws do not apply to them and can get away with criminal behaviors. Typically, this is proven wrong.
A personal gain
Whether it is money, information or goods, white collar crime often results in a personal advantage for the defendant. For example, if an IT specialist uses their position to sell old computers from their workplace for a profit, they are taking advantage of their power and gaining compensation.
Many people who commit a white-collar crime see an opportunity to gain something without physically harming a victim. It’s not that same as mugging someone on the street or robbing a bank, but it still damages their company or business.
No matter the motivation, it’s vital that people accused of embezzlement or fraud, to understand their rights in court and avoid being typecast as a “white collar criminal.” It may save you from jail time and huge court fines.