A little know fact about me is that my area of specialism is white collar crime, more specifically prevention and detection. According to wikipedia white collar crime is defined as “financially motivated, nonviolent crime committed by businesses and government professionals. It was first defined by the sociologist Edwin Sutherland in 1939 as “a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of their occupation”. Typical white-collar crimes could include wage theft, fraud, bribery, Ponzi schemes, insider trading, labor racketeering, embezzlement, cybercrime, copyright infringement, money laundering, identity theft, and forgery.”
Investopedia goes a little further with its explanation explaining that white-collar crime should not consider only offenses undertaken by an individual to benefit themselves but crimes including large-scale fraud perpetrated by many throughout a corporate or government institution
Prevention and detection of white collar crime is critical for any business and never more so in the current climate. Many of us have heard of the Enrons, Andersons and WorldCom, even Bernie Madoff. White collar crime grabs headlines. Its the scandal, the human interest, we want to know, we are curious to know more.
A couple of tips I have gleaned from my 20 years experience include:
- Training is critical – educating your staff on what to look out for is paramount. You need staff buy in.
- Whistle blowing hotline – facilitate staff who are willing to make protected disclosures
- Empower your staff in a compliance/ regulatory role. They need to know they can follow through on action points
- Goes with out saying get good legal advice such as a good Tampa criminal lawyer
- Be alert!!
- You need to monitor employees – look for red flags such as logs on outside of designated times, round sum payments, staff who wont take holidays etc
- Familiarise yourself with the Fraud Triangle – knowledge is power
- This sounds really simple but keep an inventory of equipment held on site and review it regularly. Especially for example if you keep expensive IT equipment on site. Don’t give the fraudster the opportunity.
- Consult the experts! This is a minefield, if its outside of your area of expertise there are many people in this are who are experts and as the old adage says “prevention is better than cure”
- Be aware of the growing area of cyber crime.
The psychology of a fraudster is baffling and perhaps I watch too much CSI and Law & Order but this area of the human brain fascinates me so much. The collective thinking about this is that the drive to commit white collar crime can be driven by greed and dishonestly. Some fraudsters even cite a jealousy of their boss for example if he/she is earning more as a motivation to commit crime. There is much research in this area and if its something that interests you, take my word for it you can get totally engrossed in this stuff. Rationalization forms a big part of the psyche of the typical white collar crime fraudster…such as “ah sure it was the companies money”, “nobody is getting hurt here”. I suppose being able to rationalize it in that way helps them sleep at night!!!