ACCTG505 San Diego State American Hustle 2013 Film Fraud Examination Analysis

At the Movies – Fraud and White-Collar Crime

ACCTG 505 – Fraud Examination

Popular culture and media is often an effective way to study certain phenomena and fraud and white-collar crime is no different. There are many good examples in which white-collar crime is presented in film, some of them dramatizations of actual events and others that are purely fictional. In either case, many of these films can be an effective way to consider concepts such as moral ambiguity, immoral and illegal conduct, victimization, enforcement, policy, and jurisprudence.

For the purpose of this class, each student will select a film from a list provided, watch the film (you can rent it or stream it as a group),and write a research paper exploring the film and the portrayal of fraud and/or white-collar crime. Your paper should be 3 to 5 pages, 12-point font, 1.5 spacing, and use headers, etc. for organization. As appropriate, your paper should address:

  • Synopsis of the film; describe and analyze the fraud/crime committed in the movie
  • Overall white collar-theme of the film
  • Description of the protagonist(s) and the dilemma he/she/they faced
  • Personality, conduct, and motivations of the perpetrator(s)
  • Components of the Fraud Triangle that may be present.
  • Application of other fraud theories, as appropriate
  • What harm resulted and who were the victims?
  • The specific offense at issue, including applicable laws
  • How was the offense prosecuted, defended, or adjudicated or how might it have been?
  • Also consider:
    • Victimization and victim psychology
    • Moral ambiguity and societal response
    • Immoral and/or illegal conduct
    • Enforcement/Punishment
    • Other observations or responses

Your paper will be graded based upon your summary of the applicable components and concepts of the film, the application of course content, and your ability to communicate them in a clear and concise manner.


Fraud & White-Collar Crime

Movie List

This list, while not necessarily comprehensive, provides a starting point for films that have portrayed white-collar crime and/or fraud. Many of these films provide a virtual experience through which we often relate to characters and are absorbed by the dilemma(s) they face. Whether the film is based upon actual events or is purely a work of fiction, films such as these can bring us to a deeper understanding of white-collar crime, the conduct and character of the perpetrators, and the harm done to the victims.

The Ascent of Money (documentary) (2008)

All the President’s Men (1976)

American Hustle (2013)

Arbitrage (2012)

Barbarians at the Gate (1993)

The Big Short (2015)

Boiler Room (2000)

Casino Jack (2010)

Casino Jack and the United States of Money (documentary) (2010)

Catch Me if You Can (2002)

Chasing Madoff (2010)

Chinatown (1974)

Duplicity (2009)

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (documentary) (2005)

Firewall (2006)

Fun with Dick and Jane (1976)

Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

The Informant! (2009)

Inside Job (documentary) (2010)

The Insider (1999)

Lord of War (2005)

Margin Call (2011)

Michael Clayton (2007)

Office Space (1999)

Owning Mahowny (2003)

Quiz Show (1994)

Rogue Trader (1999)

The Social Network (2010)

Too Big to Fail (dramatized documentary) (2011)

Wall Street (1987)

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010)

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

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