Before you get nervous over the title of this post, you need to know that I’m not really advocating fraud. I investigate fraud for a living and I see how it destroys businesses and lives. I’m in favor of eliminating fraud all together, although that may be a bit too lofty of a goal. A simple reduction in fraud in the workplace would be nice.
When discussing fraud, it can be helpful to change the perspective from which you view the problem. It’s fine to discuss how owners and executives can reduce and eliminate fraud in the workplace. We can talk about all the ways they might identify a fraud-in-progress.
What if we switched the perspective on fraud? What if we looked at it from the viewpoint of the employee committing the crime? In my opinion, this provides a valuable new perspective on the issue of corporate fraud and can trigger a greater awareness on the part of owners and management.
So what does an employee committing a corporate fraud need to do in order to avoid getting caught in the act? Well there are many, many warning signs (otherwise known as red flags) that may give hints that a fraud is being committed.
There are many suspicious behaviors at work that can tip off management to fraud. If you are committing fraud, do not complain about your job or your supervisor. Don’t be a rebel when it comes to the rules. Appear compliant with the company’s policies and procedures, and don’t cause trouble. These types of things only draw negative attention to you. An employee who seems intent on fighting the system can be regarded as a higher fraud risk.
Dishonesty in your personal life can be an indicator of a willingness to be dishonest at work, so don’t brag about how you cheated a neighbor out of money or how you filed a false insurance claim. You want to appear completely honest at all times. Don’t even hint that fraud is an option in your mind. Don’t dream out loud about stealing something of value from someone. If you show management that you have a desire and a willingness to steal, they may keep closer tabs on you at work, and your fraud may be quickly discovered.
Do not discuss any financial problems publicly, and do not even hint that you might have financial troubles. This could be a huge warning sign to management. They will be aware that you have an immediate need for money, and may scrutinize you to make sure you’re not stealing.
Don’t complain about your salary level. Don’t complain that you didn’t get a proper raise or bonus. Don’t complain that you do far more work than for which you’re paid. Don’t complain in general. You don’t want management to be aware that you’re dissatisfied with your job or your pay. Those types of things indicate an employee who might be able to easily justify fraud in her or his mind. If you’re unhappy, you might not have qualms about stealing to “get back at” the company for treating you poorly.