White-Collar Crime from an Opportunity Perspective

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Abstract

It is no longer necessary to argue for the importance of white-collar crime. Its devastating financial and physical effects are obvious. The task now is to develop better ways to control and prevent white-collar crimes. In this paper, we argue that in order to reduce white-collar crime we must first identify the specific opportunity structures associated with the offenses we wish to prevent. That is, we must identify the features of the settings that allow the crime to occur. Three major theories are reviewed here that can help in this task: routine activity theory, crime pattern theory, and situational crime prevention theory. These theories address how crime opportunities are formed by immediate environments and then discovered and evaluated by potential offenders. We demonstrate that they can also be used to uncover how specific forms of white-collar crimes are committed and help structure analyses of the underlying opportunity structures associated with these offenses.