By Charles Hall | Accounting and Auditing , Fraud , Local Governments
Can you steal like a boss? White collar crime takes special skills and thoughts. Do you have what it takes? Here’s my tongue-in-cheek look at how I would steal.
Picture Courtesy of iStockphoto.com
To steal, I need to:
- Be Believable
- Have a Cause
- Calm My Conscience
- Develop My Plan
- Execute My Plan
- If Caught, Settle Out of Court
1. Be Believable
I must be seen as trustworthy. The more age, experience, and education I have, the better. The longer I work for the organization, the more I will be trusted.
And while I’m at it, I’ll do what I can to move to positions of higher authority which will provide me with greater opportunities. Being the boss will enable me to steal like a boss.
If possible, I will gain the ability to authorize or initiate purchases. Kickbacks (paid to those who authorize payments) are difficult to detect, even by professional fraud examiners, and the dollars can be significant. Like stealing candy from a baby.
2. Have a Cause
Any financial pressure will do–a gambling or drug habit, an affair, medical bills, or maybe I just want to appear more successful than I am. If I don’t have a need, I will create one. I am my own cause.
My unshareable need (cause) must not be known by others lest they suspect my need for cash.
3. Calm My Conscience
I hate when that little voice starts talking: “Charles, you can’t do this. Your grandmother would be so ashamed.” It takes skill and fortitude, but I must calm my conscience. All the more reason to have a cause (see point 2.). The more noble I can make my cause, the better. Something like, “I’ve earned this. The company should realize my greatness and provide me with appropriate compensation. I have three kids in college, and they need this. You know I really want to be good provider for my family.” I may need to start
stealing borrowing or compensating myself in small amounts and then build up. This will make it easier for my conscience to adjust.
I need to think correctly. When that little voice speaks, I will reword those thoughts. I know I am right.
4. Develop My Plan
I will pay attention to control weaknesses.
Our auditors have told us for years that we lack appropriate segregation of duties. Opportunity awaits.
If I am going to
steal be compensated appropriately, I need to make it worth my while. Be bold. Think big. I have noticed that one of our key vendors has been very kind to me, a free week-long trip to Vegas for the last three years. And a key contract renewal is coming up. I think cash would be better this year. Besides, I know the CFO received an even sweeter trip than I did last year. And bribes gifts don’t hurt anyone; the vendor pays for them (though I have noticed the vendor’s pricing seems to be increasing…actually, exploding).
5. Execute My Plan
Take Compensate myself in a steady under-the-radar kind of way. Most folks get greedy. I must be diligent to work in a measured way, not taking receiving more than would be noticed. Greed is my enemy, the element that lands good guys like me in the newspapers.
Also, I think I can consistently
steal borrow money from the receipts cycle since I am in charge of daily deposits and all related accounting duties. This might cost me my vacation though. I need to be on the job to continue to hide perform my duties. But if the funds taken compensation is enough, I can forgo the Vegas trip.
6. If I Get Caught, Settle Out of Court
I am discovered someone notices that I have borrowed funds, then I may have to beg for forgiveness and promise to pay it back. And, of course, I need to make sure the company understands my concern for its reputation; news like this does not coalesce well with the company’s mission statement: Honesty and Compassion for Those We Serve.
I don’t need a criminal record, especially if I need to
steal borrow funds from my next employer.
More Fraud Information
You’ll find more information about fraud prevention in my book: The Little Book of Local Government Fraud Prevention.