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
Most managers, and in fact employees at all levels, assume their co-workers are honest and working to do their best for the organization. Unless they are the one who is perpetrating a fraud.
Unfortunately, occupational fraud is a lot more common than most people think. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) has published a series of reports based on fraud examiners’ actual cases that document the pervasiveness of these hidden crimes. The 2014 edition of the Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse confirms that fraudsters steal 5% of top line revenue every year, which amounts to over $650 billion per year in the U.S. alone, and an astonishing $3.7 trillion worldwide. … 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