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If Fraud Was A Thing, What Would It Look Like?

If fraud were a thingIf fraud were a thing, would it be round, or square? Liquid or solid?

We always talk about "the face of fraud".

Then we insert an image of a person who has committed fraud.

Then we caption that image with something like 'this is what fraud looks like', or 'this is the face of fraud'.

But because my mind works in strange ways, I don't consider people who commit fraud, 'the face of fraud'.

I consider these people participators of making a conscious effort to 'pick up', 'participate in', 'act out', 'snuggle up with', 'get close to' a thing called fraud.

Someone who smokes is not 'the face of a cigarette'.

They are a person who made a conscious effort to pick up and inhale a thing called a cigarette.

A cigarette is a tangible object you can hold. It has a shape and colour.

People have a choice - pick up the cigarette and smoke it, or don't.

So what would fraud look like if it was an actual thing?

Something that could be seen, or felt?

Because it has to be a thing. People are attracted to things. Some are more able to keep a safer distance from things and others aren't.

That's because we humans are a curious bunch.

So fraud. What would it look like?

I think it would look like a very inviting box of chocolates.

Maybe like a Pandora's Box of Chocolates.

Who doesn't want to a yummy piece of chocolate?

Some people would see a red flag from miles away and not go near the box of chocolates. Others are more curious and would probably pick the box up, give it a shake, see how empty or full it is (see if anyone is looking).

Then there are those who would tear the thing apart and devour all the chocolate. (I would do this but in the context of fraud bare with me here...)

Every piece of chocolate that enters a person's mouth tastes better and better than the previous. Each piece of chocolate provides instant gratification, but the devourer isn't thinking about the negative longer-term consequences hidden inside each piece.

And now the process of opening the box and eating all the chocolate will generate many complicated problems for the company they work for and themselves.

These are people you work with. These are your siblings. These are your friends. These are your neighbours.

These are the people who can't resist a yummy box of chocolates.

These are the people who can't leave well enough alone and walk away from the box.

They aren't the face of fraud. They are the poor people who were easily taken in, who happened to be in the right frame of mind, at the right time, with the right opportunities that enabled them to make a conscious choice to open the box.

Man's curiosity will never wane. There will always be a Pandora's Box ready for someone to open it up. If that box contains opportunities for fraud, then companies need to be ready.

Fraud will always be ready for someone curious enough to see how far they can journey with it.

For the record, my love of chocolate will never wane. But you get the picture! (Sorry if I offended your afternoon chocolate snack)

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photo Amanda Nieweler
About the Author
Amanda writes for WhistleBlower Security about ethics, compliance, workplace culture, and whistleblower hotlines. Amanda brings her nearly two decades of risk and compliance experience to the WBS blog where she is dedicated to helping people and companies promote speak-up cultures.