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What makes someone likely to commit white collar crime?

Do you ever wonder why only a few people end up committing white collar crimes like embezzlement or money laundering?

After all, there are plenty of people out there who have the opportunity. They're in positions of trust, they have access to money and they probably know exactly where the gaps in oversight are in order to get away with it (at least, for a while). Why do some people fall into temptation and not others?

As it turns out, there are a number of characteristics that many white collar criminals share. These include:

  • Overwhelmingly, they tend to be white males.
  • They tend to be married.
  • They tend to have fairly significant ties to their community and maybe even prominent positions in their families and churches.
  • Their first criminal act tends to occur when they're in their late thirties or forties.
  • They tend to be charismatic -- which makes it easier for them to gain people's trust.
  • They may operate as if everyday rules are meant to be broken -- often because a strong streak of narcissism lets them believe that is true.
  • They often work in an industry or company that pushes legal boundaries, cuts corners or tries to skirt the rules.
  • They are usually afraid of losing their social standing.
  • They do not want to be seen as failures.
  • They have an addiction to risk. They may seek out adrenaline "highs" inside and outside the office.
  • They may be angry and feel (justly or unjustly) mistreated by their employer or co-workers.

Above all else, however, there's one other thing that tends to tip the scales: They're so enamored of the ease of what they're doing -- even fascinated by how quickly they can get away with their crime -- that they don't consider the consequences at all. While most people think, "What if I get caught?" that thought never crosses their minds.

Naturally, you can have many of these characteristics and still never cross a legal line. However, if you find yourself engaging in risky behavior that could have legal consequences, it might be wise to seek counseling or other help before you end up charged with a white collar crime.

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