White collar crime laws started because of theft and embezzlement. One of the first recorded cases happened when a person was hired to transport wool and he decided to skim some off of the top for his own gain. That happened in the late 1400s.
However, in the modern era, one big reason for the rise in white collar crime laws has been the actions of corporations. Essentially, people were fed up with monopolies, and the Sherman Antitrust Act was passed as a result.
The problem was that companies would sometimes come in and crush all of the competition in their way, while selling common, everyday products. When the competition was gone, the owners of those companies would then increase the prices massively, knowing they controlled the market and everyone would have to pay. People saw the rising prices for what they knew were cheap items and were not pleased.
At one time, doing this was fully legal. The companies had not acted outside of the law in beating the competition or raising prices — two things corporations are allowed to do. The public outrage at the way greed was causing prices to go up is what prompted the legislation.
It’s important to know how this works because, generations later, companies are still accused of trying to start unfair monopolies at times. There is a bit of room for interpretation with laws like this, so those who have been accused in Maryland need to know all of their legal options. If you’re facing allegations, you have the right to a fair trial.
Source: How Stuff Works, “How White-collar Crime Works,” Jane McGrath, accessed April 20, 2016