Insights: Article

Preventing Fraud: White-Collar Crime Offender Registry

By Jason Olson

October 09, 2018

The State of Utah established a first-of-its-kind White Collar Crime Offender Registry in 2016. According to the State of Utah’s Attorney General Sean D. Reyes, “[t]his registry has been a goal of mine for years and will further equip citizens to protect themselves from financial fraud by making information much more accessible in this digital age. A simple search could curtail a fraudulent investment and save an entire nest egg.” This searchable database contains full names of white-collar criminals, dates of birth, type of conviction/fraud and additional conviction details. For example, the following are conviction details for an individual convicted of theft by deception in 2012.

Conviction Details

Conviction #:1
Conviction Date: 7/10/2012
Court of Conviction:  4th District – Provo
Targets: Employer
Conviction Details: As Director of Technology, requested and received reimbursements for purchases that were never made, were cancelled or returned. Applied for a mortgage loan, exaggerating income and forging the signature of the company’s Director of Finance to support figures. 

The information contained within this registry would be useful when considering a potential hire that would be entrusted with your organization’s assets, researching a potential investment advisor and performing due diligence before you do business with an unfamiliar individual.

With that said, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners’ 2018 Report to the Nations indicates the “[t]he vast majority of occupational fraudsters have no prior history of criminal convictions”.1 In fact, only 4 percent of the fraudsters in this most recent study had prior convictions. The study further reveals that “between 58 percent and 69 percent of occupational fraud cases in [their] past studies were never referred to law enforcement, which indicates that the actual number of repeat offenders is probably higher than what can be identified through conviction records.” What does this study mean in relation to a potential nationwide registry? Well, it means that a registry is only as good as white-collar criminals being held accountable in the court of law through criminal prosecution. In other words, if a fraudster is not held accountable, they will not show up in a registry based on criminal convictions. The more fraudsters who are prosecuted and found guilty, the better the registry would be to combat future fraud.

Although a nationwide white-collar crime registry would most likely be only based on criminal convictions, it would be another useful background check/due diligence tool for individuals and businesses to check an individual’s history for potential fraud-related criminal convictions. A nationwide white-collar crime registry, similar to the State of Utah’s registry, would assist in preventing financial crimes across the United States. Hopefully other states, or our federal government, follow the State of Utah’s lead by developing a searchable white-collar crime registry for the general public to further prevent fraud.

 

[1] Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, Report to the Nations, 2018 Global Study on Occupational Fraud and Abuse.

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