International Fraud Prevention Month and White Collar Crime

The brain of the criminal is different from the noncriminal; a complex cocktail of biology, neuro-anatomy, environmental and social influences. According to Dr. Stanton Samenow, criminal behaviorist, a sense of ownership often pervades a criminal’s thinking typically accompanied by a sense of entitlement.

“I have spent the best years of my life giving people the lighter pleasures, helping them have a good time, and all I get is abuse, the existence of a hunted man.” (Al Capone)

Harvard Business School Professor Eugene Soltes’ findings mirror those of Samenow. Soltes interviewed about fifty prominent white-collar criminals including Madoff, Kozlowski, and Fastow in order to understand their mental processes and then wrote a book about it. In an interview with Fortune’s Roger Parloff, he comments, “So I could sit in a room all day with these executives and never be worried about them going into my back pocket and taking $5 out of my wallet. They’re socialized. They wouldn’t do that. Yet many of these individuals—I’ve held stock in some of their firms—they’ve taken actually far more than that out of my retirement account, or my stock account. But they don’t feel any kind of deep harm in doing so. That’s a discrepancy.”

“There are people who look at the rules and find ways to structure around them. The more complex the rules, the more opportunities…The question I should have asked is not what is the rule, but what is the principle.” (Andrew Fastow)

Today’s criminal activities play out against an increasingly global and technologically sophisticated society. “There’s a global conversation about the right way to approach corporate crime,” says Garrett, the Too Big to Jail author, pointing to increased legislative activity in Canada, France, Ireland, and the U.K. around corporate crime, and emerging interest in the same by Taiwan, Spain, and Brazil.

“What I did in my youth is hundreds of times easier today. Technology breeds crime.” (Frank Abagnale)

This month, our neighbors to the north are in full swing with their annual campaign to recognize, reject and report fraud. You can download their Little Black Book of Scams online here:

In the U.S., corporate fraud remains one of the FBI’s highest criminal priorities. The FBI’s corporate fraud investigations focus mainly on these three areas: falsification of financial information, self-dealing by corporate insiders and hedge fund fraud.

Two of recent entries on the FBI’s most wanted list hail from Scotland: a Scottish securities broker and a luxury car dealership operator. For a full list of the FBI’s most wanted white collar criminals, click here:

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