Wherever there is crime, there are victims, right? Who are the victims of victimless white-collar crimes? The field of criminology defines white-collar crimes as:
a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation.
Why? Because opportunities for fraud, bribery, insider trading, embezzlement, forgery, even computer crime are more available to white-collar employees, as opposed to a typical blue-collar worker (in a factory).
Such crimes are often considered victimless, in that no single person was harmed in the crime, as opposed to a company, the government, or society at large.
Through the years of a career of multiple careers, I’ve had the pleasure of working for a number of privately funded and financed companies which went public (an initial public offering, an IPO, which sold shareholder stock to the general public).
The business of most public companies is rather straightforward but a gamble. It’s more of a gamble for those who buy stock and become shareholders.
The newly public company devises a plan to expand or grow the company, they execute the plan, or some derivative thereof, and everyone hopes and prays the stock rises in value. From that, shareholders make money, either on paper as stock value, or real profit when the stock is sold.
A few of the companies I’ve worked for that were private and became public did not actually have a viable plan for their future expansion and growth. The plan consisted of a techno-jibberish document of dubious content and a series of slick sales presentations; the whole package designed purely to entice large investors to part with their money, and support the company’s initial public offering.
The so-called Dot Com bubble of the late 1990s was a haven for such efforts to raise capital, first privately, then publicly, for such companies. Many people made millions and billions of dollars in that era. Even more people lost even more money (what goes up, must come down) when stock prices crashed back to reality.
Companies with value and customers and profits survived, and eventually prospered. Those with nothing more than a business plan and a sales presentation died, or their assets were purchased at pennies on the dollar in a modern fire sale.
The crime was the building of a company made of worthless plans and presentations, as opposed to building a company of products, sales channels, customers, revenue growth, and profits. Who committed the crimes? The white-collar executives and original investors of such dubious companies.
Who were the victims? The people who bought the stock from such companies. The people who worked in such companies. The customers of such companies; those who bought products or services which seldom performed as expected.
Even victimless crimes have victims.
Most of those company founders and executives and stock manipulators who engage in such crimes are seldom prosecuted because their efforts to bend the system to their ends run along the border of illegality, but well within the confines of impropriety.
One company I worked for in the mid 1990s had nothing more than a modest business plan, a well done presentation, excellent public relations, and a stellar cast of executives. That package enticed initial investors, which bore fruitage from more investors– to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. That capital created an environment for facilities, employees, new plans, new presentations, an enhanced image and more investors.
The problem? No products or services of lasting value. No customers to expand the revenue base. No future. The marketplace always snaps back to reality. The company’s bubble burst, the last of the company’s stock holders lost hundreds of millions of dollars, employees were fired.
Even victimless crimes have victims.