“Also after our incident, we started reading a lot. If you have not been a victim of embezzlement, it’s just white noise. But once you start paying attention, it’s clearly an epidemic.” That quote came from a victim of a pink collar criminal who stole over $200k+ from their medical practice. Getting to hear real stories from the victims is part of my job. It’s the part that is the hardest but also very rewarding. Listening to this doctor’s story is like a record with a scratch: she was my friend, we socialized together, she handled everything, she was a long time trusted employee. I hear these stories each time I go to investigate.
I am trying to get the word out about these long time trusted employees who steal victim’s innocence and joy from their work. This victim has been devastated by the theft. Paying back taxes, reconstructing the books, and of course trying to rebuild trust with your employees and clients. And it continues. It continues because many of these women live in the victim’s community. This victim sees their former employee at the grocery store. She is not in jail. She is actually working for a new medical practice. Justice is slow. But luckily this victim is also trying to get the word out about medical embezzlement. It can happen to you and then it won’t be “white noise.”
As a wannabe academic I read as much as I can about women and crime. This week I came across the term “neutralization” by David Matza and Gresham Sykes (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Techniques_of_neutralization) 1957.
The definition from Wikipedia: Techniques of neutralization are a theoretical series of methods by which those who commit illegitimate acts temporarily neutralize certain values within themselves which would normally prohibit them from carrying out such acts, such as morality, obligation to abide by the law, and so on. In simpler terms, it is a psychological method for people to turn off “inner protests” when they do, or are about to do something they themselves perceive as wrong.
And in simplest terms:
- The Denial of Responsibility
- The Denial of Injury
- The Denial of the Victim
- The Condemnation of the Condemners
- The Appeal to Higher Loyalties
This technical term was new to me but in my career I have experienced it every time I have interviewed a suspect about their involvement in a crime. As many investigators know you understand neutralization in order to get the story or the confession.
What is even more fascinating is the difference between men and women and their use of neutralization. So off I went into the land of academia to research this more thoroughly. A very interesting paper with 40 subjects (20 males and 20 females) gave even more insight:
Gender, Identity, and Accounts: How White Collar Offenders Do Gender When Making Sense of Their Crimes
In these interviews it became clear that all male and female subjects used different neutralizations to justify their crimes. However, their justifications varied by gender in many cases. Men feel the need to be the breadwinner. It is part of their masculinity to provide for their families.
Women are the caregivers more generally even though being the primary breadwinner is increasing. From the study the women “claimed that the lack of capable males to support them necessitated that they assume the full responsibility as the family caregiver…For these women, the use of the defense of necessity was often coupled with the fulfilling of the caregiver role. They claimed that the necessity of their crimes was heightened because of their desire to protect or shield their family from harm… Women tended to emphasize their responsibilities as caregivers as the main driving force behind the necessity, coupled with the failures of others in their families (usually men).
Another part of the study I have seen up close and personal. Men often were “merely seeking a justifiable reprisal for the wrong that had been committed against him. Whereas the men who used this technique pointed to generalized victims (e.g., the government), the women more often pointed to specific individuals who wronged them (e.g., employers). For the business owners out there I think you will find this very fitting.
As I continue to work on pink collar crime and spread the word many of these issues come up in investigations. Knowing how men think and react in comparison to women is helpful when you are trying to put a case together. I would love to hear your experience with male and female subjects in investigations of white collar type crimes. Thank you in advance.
I was interviewed this last week by Kyle Iboshi, investigative reporter, for KGW News. Here is the link:
The word is getting out.
Last week I posted about a mom who stole from a bank. I was even so bold to say that I thought due to the headline “Mom, daughter, sister, wife & grandma” it would get a lot of clicks. I was wrong. I have been thinking about why the story did not get as much attention as my other stories about pink collar crime. It may be déjà vu to the time that Dr. Freda Adler wrote Sisters in Crime. As you may remember, Dr. Adler wrote Sisters in Crime in 1975 during the time of women’s liberation. She had over 300 media events including the Tonight Show and being interviewed by Barbara Walters. But all she got was pushback from people stating she was taking away from women advancing in the workplace. She even told me on the phone that if she knew how much grief she got she may never have written the book. Her thesis was that women would be incarcerated in greater numbers due to more women being in the workplace.
I tweet regularly about #pinkcollarcrime. There are amazing news articles daily (thanks to Google alerts) about women stealing in the workplace. However, deep down I am starting to think that people don’t want to hear about nice women breaking rules and stealing.
Like Dr. Adler in no uncertain terms do I want to take away from women and their gains in the workplace. What I want to do is to educate business owners and managers about the potential of pink collar crime. With more and more women in the workplace and with an increasing number of women being the primary breadwinners pink collar crime will increase just due to the numbers.
Recently I was asked if I was “picking” on women. My answer was an unequivocal no. But if a man were doing “Catch Her If You Can-Today’s Pink Collar Criminal he may have a more difficult time than myself. I have touched the glass ceiling, my daughter is a staunch activist (even though she still is in high school) and my family has always supported my passion for work.
There is no honesty chromosome that women possess. That is what Dr. Adler brought up over 40 years ago. I will keep drawing attention to pink collar crime and as Dr. Adler told me someday there just might be a Bernice Madoff.
The USA Today recently had this headline “Mom sentenced to nearly 7 years” http://usat.ly/2eFKwAL
Why did they lead with this headline? Because it sells. No one wants to admit it but there is curiosity about a Mom who steals. My headline most likely will be clicked through many times this week due to that. But that is why I call Pink Collar Crime the relatable crime. Most everyone knows someone who either has been victimized by a pink collar criminal or they are aware of a pink collar criminal story in their community-think little league embezzlement or town clerk embezzlement . Most people don’t relate to a violent offender because hopefully you have not been a victim or know someone who has been a victim.
These women aren’t scary. They look like regular moms, sisters, wives or daughters. They are the ones who are working a job in a medical office, small business, municipal government or possibly volunteering at a nonprofit such as a sports club or school club.
As I have been tweeting and posting, this is a growing demographic. Women are in the workplace in record numbers and it looks to stay that way. The world has changed. These women are all in some form or another a mom, daughter, sister, wife or grandma. When you see a story like that what are your initial thoughts?
Just look at women incarceration rates provided by the Prison Policy Initiative from 1910-2014 https://www.prisonpolicy.org/global/women/ Dr. Freda Adler was spot on.