Ordinary people can do extraordinary things, including committing fraud. The question is, what motivates an ordinary person to morph into a fraudster?
“Pressure,” or motivation, is one of the three causal factors of Donald Cressey’s Fraud Triangle, along with opportunity and rationalization. A quick summary of the theory is that a person commits fraud when under difficult or threatening personal circumstances (pressure) and he or she has access to a valuable target for personal gain (opportunity) that they can justify internally (rationalization).
The pressure factor in fraud risk is idiosyncratic and dynamic. Individuals’ circumstances are as highly varied as their perceptions and reactions are to them. The main thing is that the propensity for fraud emerges when a person’s circumstances create perceived pressure that leads him or her to exploit an opportunity when it appears. In other words, every person in every organization has the potential to commit fraud under the right combination of circumstances. … Continue reading
As part of the annual fraud awareness week, we wanted to bring you a quick summary of the principles of fraud risk management. These points are based on an extensive review titled Managing the Business Risk of Fraud: A Practical Guide.
As the Practical Guide emphasizes, “An organization should strive for a structured as opposed to a haphazard approach.” The Guide is a good place to start developing a fraud prevention and detection program as part of your overall risk management efforts (or structuring a review of an existing program). But as always, diving into the details of organizing and implementing a program like this requires significant effort. Skipping steps or making assumptions about risks and mitigation practices without systematic assessment will often lead to gaps or weaknesses in the plan. … Continue reading
We recently received a call from a small business owner who had just discovered that a long time employee had been stealing from his business. The crafty scheme involved fictitious vendors and false invoices that resulted in checks being written to accounts belonging to the employee and his girlfriend. The thief (or thieves, as it turned out) was a trusted employee, of course, but rationalized taking the money so he could “support his family.” That is, support the family with luxury items, vacations, gadgets, and goodies.
This kind of fraud is distressingly common, despite that it is so hard to understand in the context of mature, cooperative behavior. We are simply programmed to learn to trust people that we share experiences and challenges with over a long period of time. We form teams.
The Rationale Does Not Have to be Rational
Donald Cressey’s well-known “Fraud Triangle” identifies three elements needed to trigger a fraud: opportunity, motivation or pressure, or rationalization. It’s the rationalization that most often strikes us as removed from reality in some way, or transparently false. We feel a shock when someone trusted betrays us, and our first reaction is that they must feel the same way—how could they do this? … Continue reading
This week is International Fraud Awareness Week, a global effort led by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) to minimize the impact of fraud by promoting anti-fraud awareness and education.
We are proud to be among almost 1,000 organizations supporting this effort through the publication and distribution of educational materials that can help managers identify fraud risks and develop mitigation programs. This week we will feature fraud prevention-related content on our blog and we have issued a special edition of The Risk Mitigator. We are also proud to announce the release of our visual guide, 10 Fraud Facts. The guide highlights 10 facts about fraud from the ACFE’s 2014 report and offer tips to help your organization develop an effective fraud prevention program. Get your copy here.
Awareness of the potential for organizational fraud is the first step toward prevention. Yet a surprising number of organizations have no systematic fraud detection and prevention policies in place, leaving them more vulnerable to this hidden crime than they need to be. … Continue reading
Lowers Risk Group Joins Ranks of Supporters for Nov. 3-9 Awareness Campaign
Organizations lose an estimated 5 percent of their annual revenues to fraud, according to a 2012 study by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE). To help shine a spotlight on this global problem, we are participating in International Fraud Awareness Week, Nov. 3-9, 2013, as an official supporter to promote anti-fraud awareness and prevention.
During Fraud Week, we will share articles and resources designed to help you understand best practices of fraud prevention and fraud risk management. Check back here often and be sure to follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.
In its 2012 Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse, the ACFE found that:
- Fraud schemes are extremely costly. The median loss caused by the occupational fraud cases in the ACFE study was $140,000. More than one-fifth of the frauds involved losses of at least $1 million.
- Schemes can continue for months or even years before they are detected. The frauds in the study lasted a median of 18 months before being caught.
- Occupational fraud is a global problem. Though some findings differ slightly from region to region, most of the trends in fraud schemes, perpetrator characteristics, and anti-fraud controls are similar regardless of where the fraud occurred.
- Small businesses are especially vulnerable to occupational fraud. These organizations are typically lacking in anti-fraud controls compared to their larger counterparts, which makes them particularly vulnerable to fraud.
- Tips are key in detecting fraud. Occupational frauds are much more likely to be detected by tip than by any other means. This finding reinforces the need for promoting awareness to foster an informed workforce.
For more information about increasing awareness and reducing the risk of fraud during International Fraud Awareness Week, visit FraudWeek.com.
About the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners
Founded in 1988, the ACFE is celebrating its 25th anniversary as the world’s largest anti-fraud organization and premier provider of anti-fraud training and education. Together with more than 65,000 members, the ACFE is reducing business fraud worldwide and inspiring public confidence in the integrity and objectivity within the profession. For more information, visit ACFE.com.