Red, White, and Blue Collar Crime

Ostensibly, the term white-collar crime was coined in 1939 by Edwin Sutherland and refers to financially motivated and most often nonviolent crimes committed by business/government professionals. Examples include wage theft, insider trading, fraud, cybercrime, copyright infringement, money laundering and more.

Blue-collar crime has no official legal classification and encompasses a variety of crimes typically of a smaller scale than white collar crimes and often associated with “working class” individuals. These crimes could be burglary, prostitution, gambling, sexual assault, drug crimes or other violent crimes.

Red-collar crime is a relatively new phrase referring to white-collar criminals who turn violent. According to Attorney Frank Perri, who is working to educate the public about this subgroup of white collar criminals, “In circumstances where there is threat of detection, red-collar criminals commit brutal acts of violence to silence the people who have detected their fraud and to prevent further disclosure”. The most recent statistics place this subgroup of white collar criminals at 24.5%.

In a paper by Perri and Professor Rich Brody of the University of Mexico’s Anderson School of Management, they offer some advice to attorneys practicing in this area. “Attorneys need to be aware that people may become irrational when under the pressures of an investigation and that they are capable of committing a violent act. They probably get to know the client more than anyone over the course of the case, even more than their spouse.”


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