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Book Review: Why They Do It

Why They Do It: Inside the Mind of a White-Collar Criminal. ​By Eugene Soltes. Public Affairs;; 464 pages; $18.99.

The criminal mind is a fascinating and popular topic of exploration and study, especially in “serious” cases such as homicide, sexual violence, and terrorism. Often overlooked are white-collar criminals and the questions of how and why they perpetrate corporate fraud and multimillion-dollar crime schemes.

In the book, Why They Do It: Inside the Mind of a White-Collar Criminal​, author Eugene Soltes does an excellent job giving the reader contextual knowledge of white-collar crime, including historical evolutions of the investigative and legal frameworks that surround it. The content applies to a wide variety of investigative professionals, students of criminal justice, and anyone operating a business. For those interested in learning about the progress of litigation and prosecution surrounding corporate fraud, this book provides specific examples and a chronological flow of the escalation of these crimes.  

As the author tells the story of how white-collar crimes became more prevalent and the shift in feeling protected as a wealthy business owner to becoming vulnerable, he provides historical examples of this progression. He leads the reader through multiple cases, going beyond just the case facts. Readers will come to understand how the crime was initiated, the rationalization process in the criminal mind, and the consequences of these actions.  

This knowledge can help in creating better business procedures to minimize the opportunities for crime, as well as in understanding red flags and indicators of fraud. The other perspective that is extremely helpful for practitioners is understanding the thought process and justification of a white-collar criminal. This provides an ideal roadmap for showing empathy and understanding when interviewing someone accused of these crimes. 

The book delivers on its promise, providing readers an inside look into “why they do it.” Practitioners, students, and instructors will find value in this book, especially in understanding the full scope of how these crimes develop from the offender’s perspective.  

Reviewer: Dave Thompson, CFI (Certified Forensic Interviewer), is vice president of operations for Wicklander-Zulawski & Associates. His responsibilities include the development of interview and interrogation content and instructing these methodologies globally to both the private and public sectors.