White-collar Crime Demographics

Employee Thieves: Who Commits The Most Fraud?

By Suzanne Mahadeo

Criminologists look at demographics to determine who commits more fraud and why - younger employees versus older employees? Managers versus top-level execs? Learn how frauds and losses vary by age groups and other characteristics and what employers can do to prevent their companies from becoming victims of employee theft.  

Sam was with some friends at a party and told a story from his early college days when he worked as a sales clerk for a women's jewelry store. His boss was a mistrustful curmudgeon who constantly suspected that Sam and all the other employees pilfered merchandise and never worked hard enough. Sam was a model salesperson and often worked overtime but still his boss was suspicious.

One day, the boss found Sam sitting in the break room instead of standing at the counter waiting on customers. Sam's feet were hurting and there were other employees up front so he thought he could take a five-minute break. The boss yelled at him and accused him of not working hard enough even though Sam had already worked 45 hours that week (on top of attending school full-time). Before Sam could explain that his feet were hurting, the boss called all the employees to the break room and lectured them about not taking long breaks. The disturbing confrontation left Sam humiliated and angry and he no longer desired to be a model salesperson. 

Young employees who are chastised by their supervisors may embark on a mission "to get back at the boss" by stealing from their companies. ACFE Chairman Joseph T. Wells, CFE, CPA, points out in the Association publication, "The Corporate Fraud Handbook: Prevention and Detection," that criminologists have discovered that many young people fearlessly commit crimes because they're incapable of realizing that their actions can have serious consequences such as ending up in jail. Here we'll discuss other reasons why both young and old employees commit financial crimes and how employers can protect themselves from becoming victims of employee theft.

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