General Question

GloPro's avatar

If someone you knew was committing a pretty substantial white collar crime would you tell on them?

Asked by GloPro (8243 points ) March 22nd, 2014 from iPhone

Please consider the following conditions and combinations:

They are an acquaintance, a good friend, or an enemy.

You would receive a reward or you would not receive a reward.

The number of people being impacted negatively by the crime being greater or less than the number of people being impacted negatively by you telling.

EDITED You would remain anonymous as the whistleblower, or your participation would be known by the public and by the offender. [end edit]

This is in general. Please answer with consideration of the above factors or ask questions for clarification.

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21 Answers

johnpowell's avatar

I’m not a narc. But I would probably drop a steamer on their windshield.

whitenoise's avatar

In general, I would be very tempted to tell.

I hate it, how white collar crime is treated so much more gently than the old fashioned way of robbery and thievery.

raven860's avatar

I would tell yes. unless it is something important that takes little to no effect on someone. However something like stealing a penny from 100 millions people is something I would tell.

marinelife's avatar

If I knew someone was committing a crime, I would turn them in without regard for who they were or whether there was a reward. Telling would be the right thing to do; let the chips fall where they may.

Bluefreedom's avatar

I’ve been in a military law enforcement career field for almost 2 decades now so yeah, I would let the authorities know what is going on. Having integrity is part of my general makeup so I’m certainly not going to let my principles go by the wayside now. If you do something illegal, you need to own up to it and accept the consequences.

jca's avatar

I would either provide an anonymous tip or not tell at all. My reasoning for not telling at all would be that I would not want to worry about having to testify in court and dealing with repercussions or possible intimidation from the criminal.

GloPro's avatar

Ah, @jca, you bring up a point I forgot to add to my question.

Does it impact your decision if you are kept anonymous and protected as a whistleblower, or if the accused will know it was you? @marinelife @Bluefreedom

hearkat's avatar

There are too many variables. I’m imagining a white collar crime where someone is acting as a modern-day Robin Hood and ‘diverting’ resources from greedy corporations that have way more than enough to those in need – in which case I might remain mum.

If someone is scheming the system for their own greedy gain, I might try to tip someone off to allow he scam to be discovered.

GloPro's avatar

I agree I gave a lot of variables. I see it like this: if it was an acquaintance that had no direct impact on my life and there was nothing but stress in it for me (yep, I’m a greedy bastard), and everyone would know I was a whistleblower moving forward then I think I’d look the other way.

If it was an enemy, I would remain anonymous, and I got a reward… Am I doing it just for personal gain and to fuck them up a little? I’m not the one breaking the law, but isn’t that creating bad juju for yourself?

I also would worry about the number of people (spouses, kids, employees, employee families) that would be impacted if the company went down due to the owner’s deceit. Do you look the other way if a lot of innocent people would also go down?

jca's avatar

In thinking about this further, @GloPro, I realized I would totally prefer to remain anonymous, because testifying before court (even if the majority of cases never make it to court, which they don’t) is not something I would look forward to. As you all probably know, when you testify, you are ripped apart and your life becomes an open book. It can be like the person testifying is on trial themselves. So I would prefer to be anonymous.

Cruiser's avatar

I am curious as to why you singled out substantial white collar crime. You gave all these other variables that should apply equally to all kinds of crimes….why just the “substantial” white collar privileged people crime? Does that imply that most would let a minor white collar crime pass?

Just for the record substantial or menial white collar, blue collar or duchebag collar crime it would be a yes across the board.

marinelife's avatar

Still telling even if they know who did it. It is the right thing to do.

LornaLove's avatar

I have an erstwhile friend that is currently committing a crime and has been for a couple of years. I have opted to turn my back on the whole situation. I’m not saying it is right, but I do just feel as though somehow my life would be tainted by it, including the very large reward money. Also, I we had a huge fall-out. I just want that person out of my life. I wouldn’t do it either if I didn’t know the person. I seem to believe in karma, which is news to me. (Karma also means that it will come back to them too).

filmfann's avatar

Well, you qualify this as “pretty substantial”. That would require a response, so Yes, I probably would.

Coloma's avatar

Yes. Looking the other way makes one an accessory IMO.
I don’t keep unsavory secrets for anyone.
If you put me in this sort of position well….too bad for you, I like having a clean conscience and won’t compromise my own integrity for anyone.

hominid's avatar

I think there a lot less variables than some people might feel there are. We needn’t bring in the crime-as-income redistribution scenario. If we have decided that stealing is a crime, then..well…stealing is a crime. Once we start trying to figure out the end result of the crime, and whether the end justifies the end, we’ve already undermined the very whole concept of law. We don’t leave it to people’s interpretations of what is just. If we did, law would be redundant. Note: this doesn’t mean that there are unjust economic policies that result in obscene income disparities. But there are ways of ethically affecting change in this area. Stealing isn’t one of them.

If I knew that someone was committing this crime and was unwilling to stop and make amends, I would be ethically required to inform officials of this crime.

Bluefreedom's avatar

@GloPro. It doesn’t make a difference for me, really. I know it’s the right thing to do to bring the illegal activity to light and may the chips fall where they may as @marinelife stated. I’d rather sleep well at night knowing I did the sensible, honorable thing as opposed to being eaten up by feelings of doubt. That’s not healthy for anyone.

Seaofclouds's avatar

It would depend on how I “knew” they were doing it. Is this first hand information that I have or is it word of mouth? If it’s something I knew for sure, I’d report it. If it was just a rumor going around, I probably wouldn’t report it because I don’t want to ruin someone else’s life on a rumor.

zenvelo's avatar

I probably would, unless reporting had a negative effect on my kids.

I work for a self regulatory organization. We are charged with a positive obligation for self reporting any knowledge of securities law. And my experience has been that those who do not report are usually considered culpable for not reporting.

So if I knew it was occurring, I’d report it.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Like @Coloma I don’t compromise on that kind of thing, the only exception being that I may talk to the friend before doing it, to allow them to ‘fess up first.

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