Is occupational fraud "typical" white-collar crime? A comparison of individual and organizational characteristics

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109 Scopus citations


Controversy over the appropriate unit of analysis plagued the white-collar crime literature. This state of affairs was a product, at least in part, of the continued development of two distinct research traditions. Researchers interested in "ccupational crime" focused on individuals, whereas "corporate crime" researchers studied organizations. As a result, assumptions persisted about the "typical" offender and organizational setting for white-collar crime. Using a sample of 1,142 occupational fraud cases, the present study addressed voids in the literature by comparing differences in individual offender characteristics (i.e., age, gender, education, and position in the organization) and organizational victim characteristics (i.e., size, type, existing control mechanisms, and revenue) for three types of occupational fraud: asset misappropriation, corruption, and fraudulent statements. The analysis revealed that individuals who committed fraudulent statements conformed to the literature's "high status" image, while those involved in asset misappropriation or corruption more closely resembled D. Weisburd, S. Wheeler, E. Waring, and N. Bode's (1991) "middle-class" offenders. Moreover, organizations victimized by corruption were similar to the literature's depiction of the large, profit-making company setting for white-collar crime, while the other two types of occupational fraud occurred in distinctly different settings. Implications for future research and fraud prevention are provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)353-365
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Criminal Justice
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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