Pink Collar Crime

What is Pink Collar Crime?

Everyone knows the saying White Collar Criminal (think Bernie Madoff or a young, male hedge fund trader in Showtime's Billions), but when I say Pink Collar Criminal they have a puzzled look. Most people don’t realize it but they probably are neighbors, co-workers, friends or acquaintances with either a Pink Collar Criminal or someone who has been embezzled by a Pink Collar Criminal. A Pink Collar Criminal can be a PTA mom, your dentist’s office manager, and yes even someone’s grandma. The statistics on Pink Collar Criminals are alarming. According to the FBI, male embezzlers have increased only 4% since 1990 while Pink Collar Criminals have increased over 40% during that time period.

The term pink-collar crime was popularized by Dr. Kathleen Daly during the 1980s to describe embezzlement type crimes that typically were committed by females based on limited opportunity. In this context, women were more likely to have committed low level crimes such as check kiting and book-keeping fraud from positions of less power compared to men who had engaged in acts of white-collar crime. Can a man be a pink collar criminal?  The simple answer is yes.  It's the position not the gender but in these "pink" positions there are just more women than men.  

In 2018 the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse found that men were responsible for stealing larger amounts of money (median = $156,000) compared to women (median = $89,000). A handful of embezzlement studies, though dated, have focused on female offenders and have confirmed trends that women tend to commit embezzlement at a higher rate, steal less money. Women also invoke different rationalizations for their actions compared to men. The glass ceiling as we know it today represents women making about .81 on the dollar compared to men. However, when they steal they only steal about .43-.50 on the dollar.

Why did I become interested in Pink Collar Crime? When I started working at the Sheriff’s Office I became intimately involved in seeing the devastation caused by small business embezzlements. What I did not know was the perp committing these crimes. When I was a federal agent most of my targets were typical White Collar Criminals—in other words men. Now I was seeing women who had violated the trust of their employers. Out of all the cases I worked at the Sheriff’s Office there was only one male embezzler we came across. The rest were women. And all kinds of women: old, young and middle aged. Some gambled and some just wanted to keep up with the Jones’. Whatever their motivation, however, they did have two things in common—trust and opportunity.

If you come across a pink collar criminal there are things you should know that will help your situation. Stay tuned.