Fraud is a common occurrence within the workplace. Right
now, any of your colleagues could be plotting to commit a fraudulent act; they
could have means, motive and a sense of justification for committing workplace
What makes people commit workplace fraud though? There must
be an underlying reason why they believe they have the right to steal from
their employer, and feel justified with their actions at the same time.
Leading criminologists explain the reasons behind this particular
act of crime. They classify it as the ‘fraud triangle’ and they believe there
are three elements which motivate workers to commit work based crime.
We explore this in greater detail here, and make you aware
of the motivational reasons behind white collar criminal activity.
elements of the Fraud Triangle
Could you commit a fraudulent act? For most honest people
this thought would never cross their minds. Say your circumstances changed
though? What if you suddenly found yourself in debt and you were inexplicably placed
in control of the company’s accounts, could this tempt you into acting with
Three factors contribute to people committing acts of fraud.
They include opportunity, motivation and rationalisation. In virtually all fraud
cases these elements are present so let’s look at each one in closer
Give a person the opportunity to commit a fraudulent act and
how do you think they will react? This depends on the individual and their
personal circumstances. Opportunity
arises when a person has access to a company’s finances or assets. If they also
have the means at their disposal to cover traces of criminal behaviour this
puts them in a powerful position and makes it easier for them to commit
They might have the opportunity but what motivates a person
to commit acts of fraud within the work setting? This could be due to a number
of reasons. Debt and the inability to pay bills is a classic example. Gamblers and workers with drug or drink
dependency issues could be motivated to act fraudulently and steal money from
Money isn’t always the main motivator though. Workers under
pressure might be tempted to commit fraudulent behaviour to hit targets or they
could try to cover up a lack of performance at work by acting fraudulently.
The third element of the fraud triangle is rationalisation. This
is the part where people justify their actions. They convince themselves it’s perfectly
fine and okay to commit acts of fraud, even if deep down they know this is
How do fraudsters rationalise such acts?
This could be something as simple as a worker thinking
they’re not being paid fairly or the fact they missed their bonus for the
quarter. They might think their boss
doesn’t treat them fairly or the amount they take is minimal compared to the
overall profits of the business. People
rationalise fraud for differing reasons and there’s usually a sense of self
One very effective way of combating fraud at work is to tackle
the first element of the fraud triangle. Control the opportunity for workers to
commit acts of fraud in the first place and the chances of this type of crime
taking place is greatly reduced.
Other ways to combat fraud include introducing a risk
management programme and adopting loss control measures that might include
awareness, deterrent and reporting processes designed to minimise and eliminate
acts of fraud.
And you could train in fraud prevention and obtain skills
and knowledge that help you tackle this problem in the future. For more advice contact us at Focus
Training, we’re expert providers of investigation and fraud training courses