Today’s General Counsel: White Collar Crooks Share Certain Characteristics

October 17, 2018, Today’s General Counsel

It’s a mistake to ignore the human element when fighting fraud within a corporation. There are behavioral and environmental factors that are common among white-collar crooks, and watching for them increases the odds of deterring fraud or detecting it a timely manner. Blogging at boardandfraud.com, Jonathan T. Marks notes that no single quirk or characteristic is enough to indicate fraud, but the combination of certain ones increases the risk. Lack of a moral compass, of course, is a dead giveaway, but Marks spent time with Sam Antar, the Crazy Eddie’s fraudster, who told him that criminals typically compensate in their outward personality for a lack of morals, a pattern of duplicity that can make detection difficult unless it is accompanied by questionable personal behavior. Salacious conduct and odd spending habits are obvious red flags. More troubling, so is creativity. A working paper by Harvard Business School found that creativity might be a predictor of dishonest behavior.  As much as corporations would like to maintain a separation between the personal and professional lives of their employees, the two are linked when it comes to unethical actions on the business front.

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