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Occupational Crime: Joel Barlow (“The Tahitian Prince”)

Overview of the Case

On 13 February 1975, Barlow was born in New Zealand. Barlow's C.V. presented to Q-Health revealed that between 1995 and 1999 he obtained a variety of tertiary degrees and educational prizes in New Zealand. Investigations carried out by the QPS, though, suggested that Barlow doesn't actually hold any degrees at the tertiary level. A copy of the Victoria University Academic Record reveals that Barlow pursued, but failed to finish, a Bachelor in Commerce and Administration and a Diploma in Professional Accounting in 1996. There was no confirmation that he has won any scholarly honors (CCC, 2013). On 4 August 1999, Barlow was found guilty of "theft as a servant" and "using a file" in Wellington District Court. In July and August 2003, Barlow was reported as being sought for interrogation in New Zealand in connexion with a fraud perpetrated while working as a contractor in a steering committee sponsored by a government department of New Zealand, and in connexion with yet another fraud perpetrated after he was dismissed from his private company job due to theft (CCC, 2013). Barlow departed New Zealand on 31 March 2003 and shifted to Australia. He was working as an AO3 contractor by Q-Health in 2004 in a role secured via a recruitment service. In 2004, Barlow began working for Q-Health, at that time his lifestyle was far beyond the means of his Q-Health income. He told the staff of Q-Health that he was Tahitian royalty and made it clear that he had a trust fund and was working to get access to that fund (CCC, 2013).

Barlow was engaged in numerous dishonest dealings and finally, on 16 November, Barlow sent an "emergency" GPV to the SSP official for payment from the MGIA to the HIC of $11 million linked to the creation of a university dental school. He agreed to amend the dental school-related legal Investment Funding Contract. The transaction of $11 million was the last dishonest payment rendered to HIC. He had swindled Q-Health of $12,320,739.20 during the 12 months of 2011, for a sum of $16,690,037.58 acquired since his scam started in October 2007. When Barlow was asked if he kept count about how much amount he took from Q-Health, He said "I didn't, I would send another bill if I ran out of cash" (CCC, 2013).

He perpetrated the fraud from October 2007 to December 2011 while serving as a middle manager for Q-Health and was elevated to the company on the grounds of credentials from a bogus law qualification (ABC, 2020). Before transferring funds into his bank account, he transferred public funds budgeted for charities or charitable organizations to a third-party account. He even wrote vouchers that he submitted to a fake company. The sum of money that he robbed grew dramatically over time and was used to send lavish presents to relatives, families, and colleagues (ABC, 2020). Barlow was involved in the single biggest scam in Queensland, robbing A$ 16.69 million in 4 years, leading a lavish life, and convincing associates and mates that he was a Polynesian Prince. He was convicted for 14 years in Jail for fraud and possession of drugs in 2013. (Stuff, 2017). "A 2013 Queensland's CMC report said:" Barlow's scam could be the biggest scam ever perpetrated in the public sector in Queensland (CCC, 2013).

Routines Activity Theory

The theory of routine activity identifies the criminal case by means of 3 basic elements that intersect in time and space during everyday activities: (a) a possible suspect capable of committing a crime; (b) an effective target or victim; and (c) the lack of guardians capable of defending targets and victims (Miller, 2014). These 3 essential conditions must coincide in space and time for a crime to be committed. Anybody with a motivation to perpetrate a crime and with the potential to do so maybe the potential suspect, an entity or assets that may be harmed by a criminal is the reasonable target, and the third and final factor mentioned in the principle is the lack of a competent guardian, someone who would act to deter or avoid a crime (Cohen & Felson, 1979). One in whose presence the offense is not perpetrated is a guardian strong enough to stop the offense, or whose unavailability makes it more likely. This term encompasses anybody who travels via a region or who acts as an individual or asset guardian, while policemen or security officers must not be reduced to or mistaken with the notion of the guardian. Certainly, they remain competent guardians, and they are generally unavailable when a crime takes place (Felson & Boba, 2010), as shown in the classic Kansas City Preventive Patrol Test, which evaluated the efficacy of randomized patrolling and showed that there was no substantial impact on illegal crime in the region from a rise in regular patrol levels in a particular region. Somebody else who should be deemed competent guardians and who may be more essential for preventing crime is the owner of a home, a sibling, a mate, or a passer-by-in particular, any individual who can defend him or herself, defend others, or defend his or her own or the assets of others in the conduct of his or her every day activities by involvement or action. In criminology, this theory remains one of the biggest theoretical methods and has gained considerable research backing (Miller, 2014). The theory of routine activity is, in brief, an effort to recognize illegal crimes and their trends at a macro level by describing shifts in crime rates pattern (Miller, 2014).

Applicability of Routines Activity Theory on the WCC Case

While originally intended to describe physical contact, researchers of predatory crimes (Cohen and Felson 1979) have since started to apply the principle of routine activities to other modes of crime that frequently do not involve distal interaction among survivors and suspects, such as online fraud and white-collar crime. The theory of routine activities often applies to white-collar offenses, usually conceptualized as cyber-crime (Gibbs, Cassidy & Rivers, 2013). The application of routine activities to white-collar crime by speculating how characteristics of legal business processes can "build or obstruct opportunities of crime" has been further expanded by the latest lines of inquiry. In particular, survivors can be reached by criminals via business systems, procedures, or platforms that promote contact with them. Instead of "integration of space and time," in a given virtual world or in connections linked to it that bypass guardianship, market systems build "commonplaces" for such offenses (Gibbs, Cassidy & Rivers, 2013). These philosophical constructs motivate researchers to describe occupational or organizational attributes that promote white-collar crimes perpetrated in the course of one's occupation through deceit and secrecy. Market systems, though, vary from the closed market systems that are found in several organizations. Markets are accessible to clients operating inside and outside of legal, controlled companies to facilitate a large number of sales. Future suspects are not restricted to people who have daily access to the network at work (Gibbs, Cassidy & Rivers, 2013).

The routine activity theory applies to the Barlow case as all the 3 key elements of the theory were also present in the Barlow case. As per the routine activity theory, the crime is committed if there is a potential offender who has the capacity to commit a crime. Secondly, there should be the presence of a suitable target for the offender and lastly, there should not be any presence of the offender’s guardian. In the Barlow case, all the three essential elements were present as Barlow was the potential offender whose suitable target was the Q health and the money, and as he left New Zealand and settled in Australia, he was living alone and had no presence of any guardian which encouraged him to commit the fraud.

General Strain Theory

The main definition of the theory of general strain (GST) is very easy: people who encounter stresses or strain sometimes get frustrated and often deal with crime. In order to remove or run away from their strains, such people can engage in fraud. A person with a dire need for money, for instance, may indulge in stealing, or a teenager who is assaulted by her parent may leave home. In order to pursue vengeance against the origins of their strains or associated targets, persons may participate in fraud. A child, for example, can attack classmates who bully him. And people will indulge in activities like the use of illegal drugs to find relief (Krohn, Lizotte & Hall, 2009).

GST argues that criminality is a result of "negative interactions with others," or stress. Strain entails not only adverse personal relations, but also environments, circumstances, and incidents that are critically predicted or abstractly considered to be pessimistic (e.g. parental violence, persistent unemployment, insecurity, bigotry, and the imminent need for a lot of money). In specific, Agnew suggests 3 forms of strain: strain as the real or expected inability to attain positive developmental targets, including the classical view of strain (i.e. the failure to attain the financial goal); strain as the real or expected elimination of positive affective stimulus ( e.g. the tragic demise of a long time friend); and pressure as the real or perceived introduction. Furthermore, GST indicates that strain causes consequently lower states, such as agitation and indignation, that produce stress for corrective action, like violence (Wright, 2015).

In the study on the strain and white-collar offenses, GST integrates the claims of classical strain theory and offers a framework for precisely explaining the core themes. Around the same time, in some major respects, GST makes it possible to expand on previous literature. In specific, the GST explains more thoroughly the essence of the financial burden and gives a great deal of advice on the proper calculation of that strain (Weisburd & Waring 2001).

Applicability of GST on the WCC Case

GST further includes other forms of strain, such as a variety of work-related strains, that may lead to white-collar crime. Eventually, GST refers to a number of variables that raise the risk that persons will respond to crime strains. The risk of both "street" and white-collar offenses is increased by some of these variables, whereas others raise the possibility of only white-collar crime. White-collar crime is the "financial offenses perpetrated by using a blend of theft, deceit, or conspiracy" (Weisburd & Waring 2001). These offenses involve bribery, stock theft, email and wire tampering, misleading claims and declarations, fraud of financial and banking institutions, money laundering of banks, fraud of income tax, and antitrust offenses. GST can expect that as they have difficulty pursuing their economic targets by legal means, individuals and companies (i.e. corporate managers) are more likely to succumb to white-collar crime (Simpson, 2009).

The motivations of white-collar criminals, usual specimens of sentenced criminals, have been investigated in many studies. These criminals claim that they were motivated by wanting for material gain, but they most frequently claimed that their crime was driven by a desire to escape economic loss and the suffering it could inflict. The risk of white-collar crime is boosted by many strains (Simpson, 2009). These strains include the failure across legitimate means to attain financial growth; the exposure of a multitude of financial difficulties, with these concerns causing real or possible damages and the presentation of painful emotions; the failure to obtain status objectives; and other strains relevant to employment. When they are high in severity and viewed as unfair, these strains are most probable to occur in white-collar crime. And these pressures can lead to a number of white-collar offenses, involving higher-class workplace offenses, financial market crimes such as theft and money laundering, often perpetrated by lower-class citizens, and corporate crimes (Simpson, 2009).

The general strain theory applies to the Barlow case as Barlow was previously convicted of theft in New Zealand, also his lifestyle when he started working in Q health was below average and that was the reason why he used to lie that he is the Tahitian royalty. As per the general strain theory, which states that there has to be strain or stress involved in the mind of the criminal, such strain and stress were involved in Barlow’s case as he was caught for theft in New Zealand. He was in need of money and therefore committed theft which resulted in his conviction. He wanted to live a high-status lifestyle which he knew he would not be able to live as he was not competent nor qualified enough to achieve heights in life so he took the route of crime to fulfill his desire of becoming a rich person. There was some kind of negative mindset developed in Barlow which created strain as he was convicted and also lost his job. The unfulfilled desire and mediocre lifestyle made Barlow strain due to which he committed fraud. So, the inability to achieve the monetary goals made him perform such criminal acts. That is why he committed the largest fraud in the history of the Queensland public sector.

Suggestions to Prevent Such Cases in Future

To prevent such cases in the future analyzing certain aspects is essential. Firstly, there has to be a proper security check of all the documents. Lack of security check results in huge damages. Say for example, if Q-Health had an effective security and document check system such fraud would have been avoided easily. Barlow's documents, degrees, and certificates were all fake, in addition to it, he was convicted for theft and was also removed from another company for again committing theft. Secondly, often Barlow used to be on leave for long periods and used to not reach the office on time and was casual about his working hours and schedule. Still, such an attitude of him was accepted by the Q-Health. Q-Health was very lenient on Barlow’s acts as even after working in such a manner he was frequently promoted and was given financial roles. Such lacuna needs to be addressed so that in the future such frauds can be deterred. In terms of the theory, as per the Routine activity theory, the three key elements due to which crime was committed shall be addressed. For that, there shall be an absence of all the elements or any one of the elements. If the guardian is present then the offender will not commit the crime as the guardian will keep reminding him about the repercussions of the offense. When the offender is left alone, he misuses the freedom and becomes motivated to commit the crime. Hence, the presence of a guardian is essential by which the first element of a motivated offender will also be reduced as the guardian will make him unmotivated to do criminal activity. In terms of general strain theory, the stress and strain level shall be reduced. When there are stress and strain involved then the offender’s inclination towards achieving goals in an easy and wrong manner increases. In light of the above, it can be concluded that the above suggestions shall be considered so that in future such frauds cannot occur. In addition to it, it is to be noted that until money remains the medium of defining a person’s success and people are only respected on the basis of money and not on the basis of values and virtues, frauds and crime will keep on increasing. To really deter the menace of fraud and such types of crimes the significance and respect shall be given to the people who have lived their life with values and righteousness. As soon as society starts giving more respect to the people who are honest, who live their life with integrity, values, and principles, compared to the people who possess money, the situation will change.

Reference for Social Change and Crime Rate Trends

ABC. (2020). Fake Tahitian prince deported to New Zealand after defrauding millions from Queensland Government. Retrieved from https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-02-27/fake-tahitian-prince-released-from-queensland-jail/12007470

CCC. (2013). An examination of how a $16.69 million fraud was committed on Queensland Health. Retrieved from https://www.ccc.qld.gov.au/sites/default/files/Docs/Publications/CMC/Fraud-financial-management-and-accountability-in-the-qld-public-sector-Report-2013.pdf

CCC. (2013). Year 13: 2013 - 14 – Two major reports and transitioning from the CMC to the CCC. Retrieved from https://www.ccc.qld.gov.au/about-us/our-history/year-13-2013-14-two-major-reports-and-transitioning-cmc-ccc

Cohen, L., & Felson, M. (1979). Social change and crime rate trends: A routine activity approach. American Sociological Review44, 588– 608.

Felson, M., & Boba, R. (2010). Crime and everyday life. CA: Sage.

Gibbs, C., Cassidy, M. B., & Rivers, L. (2013). A Routine Activities Analysis of White-Collar Crime in Carbon Markets. Law & Policy, 35(4), 341–374. 

Krohn M., Lizotte A., & Hall G. (2009). Handbook on Crime and Deviance. New York: Springer.

Miller, J.M. (2014). The encyclopedia of theoretical criminology. US: Wiley.

Simpson, S.S. (2009). The Criminology of White-Collar Crime. US: Springer

Stuff. (2017). NZ's fake Tahitian prince will be paying for his crimes until long after he's released for $16m fraud. Retrieved from https://www.stuff.co.nz/world/australia/88588639/the-fake-tahitian-prince-will-be-paying-for-his-crimes-until-long-after-hes-released-for-16m-fraud

Weisburd, D., and Waring, E. (2001). White-Collar Crime and Criminal Careers. England: Cambridge University Press

Wright, J.D. (2015). International encyclopedia of the social & behavioral sciences. Netherlands: Elsevier Science.

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