Here is a very interesting site both for analysis and facts.
Sociology of crime. This is my field of study.
Department of Sociology, Ithaca College
From the Forensic Examiner, Examination of Red Collar Criminals
By Frank S. Perri, JD, MBA, CPA, and Terrance G. Lichtenwald, PhD
This study is the second in a series devoted to understanding red-collar criminals. The first study, “Fraud Detection Homicide: A Proposed FBI Criminal Classification” (Perri & Lichtenwald, 2007) advanced the proposition that there is a sub-group of white-collar criminals who are capable of vicious and brutal violence against individuals whom they believe have detected their white-collar crimes. The sub-group is referred to as red-collar criminals.
This study examines why red-collar criminals are not capable of committing violence against their victims without exposing both their white-collar crime and the violent crime. The descriptive data suggests that the evidence trail left by the red-collar criminal both illustrates the red-collar criminal’s failure in avoiding detection and reveals his or her motive for the murder. Further, the findings related to red-collar criminals correlate with the behavioral traits of psychopathy.
The authors analyze the law enforcement interrogation of Christopher Porco and offer suggestions as to how investigators should approach interviews with psychopathic defendants. The transcript is a critical tableau demonstrating that traditional methods of interrogation may not suffice when it comes to the interrogatation of red collar criminals and that an alternative approach may be required.
The story of Timothy Wicks is a story of friendship, betrayal, and murder. His friend, Dennis Gaede, worked various jobs—including tax preparer. While preparing Timothy Wicks’ taxes, using information Wicks had disclosed for his return, Gaede fraudulently obtained Wicks’ identity. With this information, Gaede left his home in Milwaukee and moved to North Dakota with his wife, Diana Fruge, and his new identity—representing himself as Timothy Wicks in the hopes of avoiding a felony sentencing in Wisconsin.
Gaede stayed in contact with the real Timothy Wicks, and shortly after moving to North Dakota, Wicks contacted Gaede and confided in him that someone was fraudulently using his identity and committing credit card fraud. As fraud detection closed in, threatening to expose Gaede’s new identify, Gaede lured Wicks to North Dakota from Wisconsin with the promise that they could play together in a band. While Wicks was staying with Gaede and Fruge, in their home, Gaede shot Wicks.
Fruge later testified that after Gaede shot Wicks, he suffocated Wicks, who was still breathing, by putting a garbage bag over his head (Barton, 2006). Subsequently they decapitated Wicks and cut off his hands to prevent identification of the body. Then Gaede and his wife dumped the naked body over the side of a bridge in Michigan, and they dumped the victim’s head, which was later discovered, in a river in Wisconsin. After the murder, they emptied out Wicks’s bank account and used the $17,000 to buy a vehicle. However, Wicks was eventually identified through dental records.
Shortly after the murder, Gaede stopped showing up for work and his employer discovered money missing from the business where Gaede worked as bookkeeper and office manager.
When the employer confronted him about the fraud, Gaede failed to give an explanation for the financial anomalies. The employer contacted the authorities about his bookkeeper, referring to him as Timothy Wicks, and was informed by police that the real Timothy Wicks was dead. Eventually, Gaede was found guilty of murder and the prosecution argued that the fraud detection initiated by Wicks himself had been the motive for Gaede to kill him (Barton, 2007).
A unique aspect of this study is that it builds upon findings drawn from homicide cases where white-collar criminals became violent and turned into red-collar criminals when their victims detected their fraudulent behavior. In a previous study of fraud-detection homicide, Perri and Lichtenwald (2007) examined the available data from 27 criminal cases, organizing the data into a matrix referred to as Perri’s Red-Collar Matrix (the Perri-RCM). Here, the authors analyze case-specific murder evidence derived from the previous study for identifiable psychological traits or behavioral tendencies typical of identified red-collar criminals. The hypothesis is that identification of psychological traits and/or tendencies of red-collar criminals might be beneficial in proposing an explanation of how red-collar criminals, who have engaged primarily in white-collar crime, come to believe they are able to successfully engage in murder and escape detection.
Further, if there is a set of behavioral tendencies, then awareness of that set might be of benefit to forensic examiners during their interviews and investigations of future red-collar crimes.
The Arrogant Chameleon Syndrome: A Behavioral Profile
A chameleon is a reptile that has the ability to change color to match its surroundings in order to avoid detection. White-collar criminals thrive on being able to avoid detection in order to carry out their fraud schemes; they have the ability, like a chameleon, to adapt to a given environment. What happens, then, when white-collar criminals attempt to become violent criminals? Do they have the ability, like the chameleon, to change their complexion to avoid detection? Or do they fail—exposing their true colors because their white-collar criminal skill set is inadequate when applied to violent criminal acts?
The murder case data reveals certain behavioral traits that explain why red-collar criminals think their white-collar crime skill set can be duplicated as violent criminals. The behavioral traits are the effect of their psychopathic characteristics (Perri & Lichtenwald, 2007). Although psychopaths try to “blend in,” the deficits in their psychopathic natures, i.e., grandiosity, poor impulsive controls, etc., hinder their ability to accurately foresee the consequences of their behavior. Psychopaths have difficulty projecting into the future, which is to say they have trouble understanding how their actions play out in (real) life, and they also have deficits in reflecting upon their past; “[t]hey are prisoners of the present” (Meloy, 2000). The red-collar criminal’s inability to think through a plan that would take into account the potential risks of being caught, and the evidence trail left behind, is another hallmark of their behavior (Meloy, 2000).
The descriptive data is consistent with Dr. Hare’s conclusion that because of these deficits, the red-collar criminal’s self-perceived reality is distorted (Hare, 1993). Put another way, as Edelgard Wulfert, forensic psychologist and professor at the University of New York at Albany, stated, “A psychopath invents reality to conform to his needs” (Grondahl, 2006). The red-collar criminal’s grandiose belief that having committed murder, he or she will somehow avoid detection is proven false. In fact, the data reflects the exact opposite. The egocentrism characteristic of these chameleons produces an overconfident view of their ability to avoid detection, thus they do not bother to conceal incriminating evidence.
To read more, including the NC story of Robert Petrick and Janine Sutphen, click here