Crime, Law and Social Change

, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 95-106

First online:

US savings and loan fraud: Implications for general and criminal culture theories of crime

  • L.L. SpahrAffiliated withUniversity of Pittsburgh
  • , L.J. AlisonAffiliated withCentre for Forensic and Family Psychology, University of Birmingham

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Both the general theory of crime andcriminal culture theories offer manyexpectations and assumptions regarding thecauses of crime and the characteristics ofoffenders. The former asserts that crimeis associated with low self-control. Thelatter, that cultural norms developthat are criminogenic. This paperchallenged three assumptions of thosetheories by examining 481 fraudoffenders. Results demonstrated: (1)individuals higher in the occupationalhierarchy are more likely to commit fraud, (2) offenders are more likely to operatealone and (3) when accomplices areinvolved, they are less likely to beinternal to the institution. The firstfinding contradicts the general theory ofcrime, whilst the second and thirdcontradicts criminal culture theories. Ourfindings suggest that a unitary theory maynot be able to account for such offences. The implications of this study may helpinfluence policing and policy regarding theway in which fraud is approached andunderstood.