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Naughty or Nice? 8 Traits of a Corporate Fraudster

Our first ever COVID Christmas is almost upon us and the question at the back of everyone’s mind is, “are you on Santa’s naughty or nice list?” To that end, the North Pole Government has released its annual list[i] of 23,981 names; 13,738 of them on the nice list and 10,243 on the naughty end.

In the spirit of the season, we thought we’d make our own list of 8 traits gleaned from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) Report to the Nations[ii] that will help you determine who makes it onto Santa’s naughty list, with a few #hashtags thrown in for good fun.

  1. Be a man - we mean this literally because 72%[iii] of frauds were committed by men and losses caused by men were twice as large as those caused by women fraudsters. As old blue eyes[iv] would say if you’re a man, #ivegotmyeyesonyou

  2. Be old(er) - the ACFE tracked losses caused by fraudsters by their age and found that the median losses caused by fraudsters above the age 55 were more than 5 times caused by those below the age 40. #betterwithage

  3. Climb that ladder – we don’t mean to curb your enthusiasm for the corporate climb, but while the percentage of fraud cases (41%) committed by employees was higher than that of managers (35%) or owners/executives (20%), the median loss of fraud perpetrated by those in a higher position completely eclipsed those of employees. #bigfisheatlittlefish

  4. “No Collusion” – this pithy saying by the 45th President of the United States[v] is ironically applicable as fraudsters who worked alone amounted to 49% of fraud cases and caused a median loss of $90,000. Those who colluded with others amounted to 51% of fraud cases, but median loss exponentially increased to $350,000. #donaldtrumped

  5. FILO - first in, last out might sound like an inventory term but it actually refers to those who have been with their company for a longer period, as fraudsters whose tenure with a company of 6 years or more, caused twice the median loss than those who’d been with their company for 5 years or less. #loyaltyisdead

  6. Wave the red flag - At least 85% of fraudsters displayed at least one of these red flags so if you notice your employees displaying any of these: living beyond their means, being unusually close to a vendor/customer, struggling with financial difficulties, problems with addiction, issues with control, unwilling to share duties, it’s time to #raisetheredlantern

  7. Past performance is no guarantee of future results - this well-known investment disclaimer applies as much to fraudsters as, according to the ACFE, only 6% of fraudsters had a prior conviction. #popyourcherry

  8. Jack (Torrance)[vi] of all trades - a few years ago, psychologist Kevin Dutton made a list of the top ten professions with the most psychopaths[vii] (hint: accountants are not on the list). However, ACFE’s report lists fraudsters coming from sales, operations, executive/upper management, accounting, purchasing. #theshining

So there’s our list of 8 traits of that will determine who might make it onto Santa’s naughty list of corporate fraudsters. If you’d like to find out more about how to make it onto Santa’s nice list, email us at And remember, being bad all year and trying to “nice up” just before Christmas does not work. Santa watches you ALL YEAR!



[ii] 2020 Report to the Nations: Asia-Pacific Edition. Copyright 2020 by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, Inc