White Collar Crime – What Is It?

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This type of crime occurs in small and large organizations, it is also often referred to as Corporate Crime. Frequently the offences committed by people involve fraud, such as theft of company money and property.

These crimes can be committed by a wide cross section of people from mangers to employees. Many people are feeling the pressure of Christmas and financial pressures from the high cost of everyday living. Mortgages have never been so high, and the recent global financial crisis, whilst it has been held out that it did not have the same impact in Australia as in other parts of the world, still has affected many people in the community.

It is often said that crimes of fraud are opportunistic where people are faced with temptation or feel that there may be some justification for taking money or property of their employers. In a recent case a middle age female, who had been employed by a large corporation for many years, was caught stealing money. Her rationale for taking the money of her employer was that she did not think that there was anything wrong with taking money from the till and using it as petty cash for the store. The woman was upset when her employment was terminated for the theft and wanted to seek remedies for unlawful dismissal.

Termination of employment immediately on the grounds of gross and serious misconduct such as fraud may make your dismissal lawful and justified. It will be difficult to argue that your dismissal was unlawful or unfair. You will need to seek further advice and guidance from a legal expert.

This woman also now faces the prospect of the employer reporting the matter to the police and being charged criminally. Recent legislative changes mean that the offence of Fraud now carries a penalty of 10 years imprisonment.

Another recent case is where a member of staff urgently needed money prior to payday. He has gone into the cash draw and taken $1100. The following day the man borrowed $1100 from a fellow staff member and replaced the money. When caught the man claimed that he had not committed any crime as he had returned the money. Unfortunately even when the money was returned a short time afterwards, the employee did not have a right to take the money and it would still be viewed as larceny. This employee was also charged by police and terminated from their employment.

There is the current case of a Manager of a pub which was facing financial difficulties who took advantage of being able to obtain money through the TAB facility. Over a period of time he obtained 1000 ticket stubs which he did not pay for. He would then put the tickets back through at another location. He was using this like a bank overdraft where he would repay some money back and spend over money to keep the hotel afloat. He has been charged with twelve offences and is currently awaiting sentencing.

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