Donald R. Cressey (1919 – 1987) was an American penologist, sociologist, and criminologist who made innovative contributions to the study of organized crime, prisons, criminology, the sociology of criminal law, white-collar crime.
Born in 1919 in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, he obtained his bachelor’s degree from Iowa State College in 1943 and earned his Ph.D. from Indiana University in 1950. He taught sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Along with Edwin Sutherland, he co-authored Principles of Criminology, for 30 years the standard text in criminology. He also wrote Other People’s Money, a study of embezzlement, and co-authored the popular textbook Social Problems. After his retirement, he was president of the Institute for Financial Crime Prevention, a foundation for the research of white-collar crime.
Cressey is credited with the theory of the “fraud triangle,” three elements that must be present for occupational fraud.
The Donald Cressey Award is bestowed annually on an American academic by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency for outstanding academic contributions to criminology.
The Cressey Award is bestowed annually by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners on one of its members for lifetime achievement in the detection and deterrence of fraud.