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Edwin Sutherland originated the phrase "white-collar crime" in his presidential address to the American Sociological Society in December 1939, but scholarly consideration of the subject precedes that date considerably. In 1907, while the muckrakers were publicizing corporate misbehavior for the masses, Edward Alsworth Ross published academic sociology's first treatment of what we today label white-collar crime. His Sin and Society argued that a new criminal was at large, one "who picks pockets with a railway rebate, murders with an adulterant instead of a bludgeon, burglarizes with a 'rake-off' instead of a jimmy, cheats with a company prospectus instead of a deck of cards, or scuttles his town instead of his ship–in short, one whose crimes were committed on behalf, or with the assistance, of a business corporation.

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