Utah has created the first ever registry for white-collar criminals. Similar to a sex-offender registry, the Utah White Collar Crime Offender Registry primarily targets any offender convicted of fraud. With a whopping $1 billion of fraud-victim loss in 2010, apparently the citizens of Utah are particularly more vulnerable to affinity fraud due to Utah’s high volume of religious and ethnic communities.
What’s affinity fraud, you ask? Perpetrators of affinity fraud pose as members of religious or ethnic communities, build a trusting relationship, and then exploit that relationship to essentially run a Ponzi scheme against the unsuspecting members. Think Bernie Madoff.
Despite the fact that conviction records are public, the database, according to Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, will provide consumer protection in a user-friendly fashion.
Sex Offender Registries Create Stigma
Sex-offender registries are modernized scarlet letters that put the same stigma on every registrant, regardless of what they did. It’s one of the biggest arguments against the use of sex-offender registries. While some states have taken steps to remedy the problem by creating different levels of sex-offense crimes, it still produces a stigma on the offender—usually as a pedophile even if they’ve never touched a child. Did you know in some states you can be forced to register as a sex offender for being caught peeing in public? Or how about a teenager exposing himself in public as a prank?
Many even argue that sex-offender registries do little to actually deter sex crimes. Whether you agree with public shaming or not, it can prove difficult for registrants to find a place to live and find sustainable jobs, all the while isolating offenders from the rest of the world.
White-Collar Registries Are Not the Same
One of the biggest differences between the two is that sex-offenders are required to list their address while the white-collar offenders are not. This definitely helps protect the offenders from any harassment issues that sex-offenders sometimes face.
- Securities fraud,
- Theft by deception,
- Unlawful dealing of property by fiduciary,
- Fraudulent insurance,
- Mortgage fraud,
- Communications fraud, and
- Money laundering.
Offenders are required to maintain on the registry for a period of 10 years for their 1st offense and increases with each offense thereafter. The catch here, different than a sex-offender registry, is that an offender is not required to register if they’ve complied with all court orders at the time of sentencing, paid all court-ordered restitution to victims in full, and have not been convicted of any other registerable offense. That’s definitely a component sex-offender registrants don’t have.
Here’s the thing, though. An offender that gets convicted of defrauding his insurance company for dismantling his motorcycle, hiding the parts, and claiming they had been stolen in order to claim insurance money gets put on the registry just the same as an insurance agent who cheated 700 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints out of $72 million. An offender with 1 victim gets the same treatment as an offender with 700. Sounds like it’s creating the same problems, right?
Absent not having the registry all together, there doesn’t seem to be an alternative to get around negative impacts the registry may have. Creating different “levels” of offenses won’t really change the issue because, at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter when it comes to crime involving the integrity of a person’s character. Dishonesty is at the core of the crime of fraud—the stigma is already there and anyone on it would likely be scrutinized regardless of any class level.
Despite the Drawbacks, White-Collar Registries Can Be Beneficial
Arguably, sex-offender registries don’t do much for the public other than making them aware of the offender. Don’t get me wrong, knowing who is a sex offender is a good thing to know, but I don’t really see it preventing future sex crimes. On the other hand, white-collar crime registry could actually help prevent fraudulent behavior.
Both types of registries list what the offender was convicted of, but you will see a detailed, albeit brief, description of what the white-collar offender did that got them convicted. That could come in handy, especially for future employers looking to hire.
While a sex offender registry might state:
Lascivious acts with a minor.
The white-collar crime registry would state:
As part of job duties, prepared deposit slip for Brinks delivery on last day of work. Actual deposit on arrival at bank was short $43,900 in cash.
See the difference? It’s subtle, and arguable not significant, but what does the first one even mean? How old was the offender compared to the victim at the time? Was it an 18-year old boy with a 16-year old girlfriend or was the offender 30 and the victim 16? Now, not all descriptions are so eluding, but, even so, the white-collar crime registry gives a bit insight into how the offender actually defrauded their victim. This allows an individual, or business, to make an informed decision about whether or not to do business with the offender.