Currently, the FBI and law-enforcement agencies define white-collar criminals as “nonviolent” offenders whose primary motive is money. But experts have identified another subset of criminals who commit financial crime, and then resort to extreme violence when their fraud is exposed.
Just in time for tax season, CrimeFeed lifts the lid on the so-called “red-collar criminals.”
Like their white-collar counterparts, these real-life “American Psychos” are highly educated, wear the same suits and attend the same social clubs as their victims, and construct elaborate cons.
Indeed, these offenders are becoming more common in the workplace: According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), homicide is the fourth most common cause of injury at work. Often, red-collar criminals are driven to commit fraud because of a desire for a bigger house or car, or because they are stealing for the company or committing income-tax evasion. But unlike, for example, Ponzi scheme offenders like Bernie Madoff, when red-collar criminals are confronted by coworkers, friends, or family about their deeds, they are much more likely to react with violence.Related: “Barbara Walters Presents”: “Queen Of Mean” Leona Helmsley
Former FBI profiler Frank Perri, who has written extensively about his research on red-collar criminals, has proposed that this offender category be added to the FBI Crime Classification manual. “In fraud-detection homicide, the material gain pre-dates the murder — it is the threat of detection that motivates the kill,” Perri wrote in The International Journal of Psychological Studies.
Perri studied the case of Christopher Porco, who murdered his father and severely injured his mother with an ax after they discovered that Christopher took out $31,000 worth of loans, using his father as a cosignatory, to pay for his tuition at the University of Rochester and finance a new Jeep Wrangler. Christopher struck his father 16 times in the head with the ax.
Following the Fall 2003 semester, University of Rochester officials forced Porco to withdraw from the school because of poor grades, and he lied to his parents Peter and Joan Porco, telling them that he had been readmitted. Less than two weeks before his murder, Peter confronted his son about his dishonesty and threatened to call Citibank to expose his son’s fraud.Related: Bateman Skincare Line, Inspired By American Psycho, Is, Uh, Cruelty-Free
Perri explained that he studied 27 homicides, and was able to identify characteristics shared by red-collar criminals. Prior to committing violence, Perri says, a red-collar criminal starts out like any other white-collar criminal: The primary motivation is money. He writes, “As white-collar criminals, they wished to divert attention from their fraudulent schemes.”
But unlike cases involving inheritance fraud or robbery, the red-collar criminal does not need to kill in order to get the money — often, as in Porco’s case, the financial gain has already been achieved. When their fraud is in danger of being detected, red-collar criminals “demonstrated the capability of unleashing heinous and brutal violence toward individuals they believed had detected, or were in a position to detect, their fraud schemes and potentially reveal such information to third parties.”
When their victims, who can include colleagues, friends, and even family members, hold a mirror up to expose the con, the red-collar criminal will often not hesitate to kill.
Perri says that these cases also present unique challenges when it comes to prosecution: He says that red-collar criminals do not normally respond to therapy. Instead, they just become better at learning how to fool people.
Main photo: Bloody axe/hatchet [ThinkStock]