Every state in the United States has a sex offender registry that is publicly available for everyone to see in order to identify people who have been convicted of a sex crime in the past. Could such an approach also prove effective at lowering financial crime rates? A recent article in The Wall Street Journal discusses the creation of a White Collar Crime Offender Registry in Utah. Utah is the first state to implement such a registry, making them, according to the article, the “most aggressive jurisdiction in the country when it comes to publicly shaming financial criminals.” The registry will list first time offenders of financial crime for five years, second time offenders for ten years, and third time offenders will never have the option of being removed. In addition, convicts who fully comply with court orders and pay their restitutions in full will not be added to the list.
While there is some debate about whether or not the financial crime registry is an invasion of privacy, it does appear to be a good solution to help potential future victims of fraud avoid getting involved with a fraudster in the first place. In addition, due to a low payment rate of financial crime restitutions, the new registry could substantially improve the amount of restitutions that get paid in full (because convicts can keep their names off the registry if they pay their restitutions). Utah is hopeful that other states across the country will adopt similar registries to help protect people from financial crime. Michael McKell, a member of Utah’s House of Representatives, said, “I know we're the first in the nation for doing it… I certainly don't think we will be the last.” While it remains to be seen how effective the new financial crime registry will be, hopefully it does prove to deter fraudsters, decrease financial crime rates, and improve restitution payment rates.