There are a few generally accepted types of employees when it comes to workplace fraud and embezzlement. Social science has done a great deal of research on who commits workplace fraud and why they decide to offend. The three most common types of employee, when it comes to likelihood of committing fraud, are: honest employees, generally honest employees, and professionally dishonest employees.
Professionally Dishonest Employees
Often referred to as “professional fraudsters”, these individuals are more uncommon than the other types, but are important to understand and make note of. They certainly do exist, and there may be more of them than you might think. These fraudsters seek companies with weak controls and the inability to detect workplace fraud. These employees move from company to company in order to defraud them. These individuals generally had no intention of working for said company; their only intention from their initial interview is to defraud an organization for personal gain. This type of planned, calculated, and premeditated workplace fraud is one of the most serious types of fraud, and often times they involve large dollar amounts.
Companies can combat these fraudsters by creating stronger controls and implementing a plan to discover workplace fraud. The mere existence of such of a plan to deter workplace fraud can be enough to denture these fraudsters from ever infiltrating the company to begin with—they are looking for any easy payday. Organizations with weak controls and highly autonomous workers should be particularly aware of this type of employee, and take steps in order to make sure they are never hired in the first place.
Generally Honest Employees
The second category of employees is generally honest ones. These employees took the job and, originally, never planned on stealing or defrauding the company. There are two main risk factors that are used to determine how likely a particular employee is to engage in fraud.
The first risk factor is opportunity. If a generally honest employee is given a large opportunity, or many smaller opportunities, to steal from the company they are more likely to commit workplace fraud than an employee with limited opportunity. Limiting the opportunity for workplace fraud to occur may be the single best preventative measure that can be taken to avoid the issue altogether.
The other determining factor is the employee’s perceived need for the money. Employees who are dependent on gambling, alcohol, or drugs are certainly at a higher risk to offend, but sometimes, all it takes for fraud to occur is any level of perceived need and a high level of opportunity.
They certainly exist, but far too often, employers estimate that they have more honest employees than they actually do. Often times, victims of workplace fraud become victims by believing that their employees are all honest. Other times, employers are concerned about low-level workers while the most likely individual to commit fraud is a long-term, trusted, knowledgeable, and important employee.
Employees that have been around for awhile have a working knowledge of the company, and in turn, understand the best ways that they could defraud the company without suspicion. Companies can help insulate themselves from fraud by understanding that their most likely offenders are also the employees they might least suspect.
Regardless of the character of the workers that a given company employs, it is impossible to completely avoid the possibility that workplace fraud could occur in the organization. Understanding these simple categories can help avoid hiring the wrong people, but because workplace fraud can happen anywhere, it is also important to know how hiring a Private Investigator can help you discover fraud, recover losses, and prosecute offending employees.
Aaron Snyder, Writer, Lauth Investigations Blog