Diamond is the New Triangle

More money has been stolen at the tip of a pen than at point of a gun. It is the people behind the pen who committed the fraud than the pen itself. Hence for those who are fighting fraud, it is worth spending time in understanding why people are committing it.

Everyone who has exposure to fraud is very well aware of the Cressey’s hypothesis on why people commit fraud – Perceived opportunity, Pressure and Rationalization. These three attributes over the years make up what is widely known as Fraud Triangle.

However; critics have often cited that fraud triangle, being from fraudster’s perspective, has defined two attributes (pressure and rationalization) that are generally non observable. Thus it fails to explain why fraud was committed when perpetrator have traits of pathological fraudsters. This shortcoming can be overcome by taking fraudsters assessment of capability in to account. Not only does the fraudster have environmental or situational factors for committing fraud but also they must have the necessary abilities and traits to recognize and make it a reality. Everyone may not have this capability in a given situation. Many of the traits that make an individual capable of committing fraud can be derived from the individual’s personality itself.

The personality traits that makes a personal capable of committing fraud can be attributed to his position or function in the organization, his level of intelligence, his arrogance, persuasive & deceptive nature, and Immunity to stress.  The fraudster’s specific position or function within the organization along with his ability to recognize and exploit the weakness of internal controls allows him to visualize opportunities that are otherwise unnoticed. The fraudster’s egoistic nature often makes him believe that he is beyond the surveillance of checks and balances. The fraudster often will be able to persuade others to commit fraud or at bare minimum to turn a blind-eye. The fraudster will be good in concealing his inner stress and often lie convincingly in order to maintain a consistent story.

Thus capability provides with more measurable traits for detecting possible frauds. Therefore it is important that assessing capability and addressing them at early stage are made as part of the fraud fighting charter for organizations.

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