Crossing the Ethical Boundary 3:Insights from a fraud investigator.

Crossing the Ethical Boundary 3:Insights from a fraud investigator.

Why people cross the ethical line?

Read: Crossing the Ethical boundary Part 2

People cross the ethical line due to four things summarized in the fraud diamond

Everyone works in order to earn a salary to pay for their needs and wants. You want to drive a good car, live in a good apartment or house. Get successful partners. You are motivated to make money and it is your DNA! You’re motivated to earn more and live a good life.

The problem is that human condition of greed makes us want more. Because there will always be someone better than us. So when you see that person, all of sudden, whatever you own, becomes bad. You become motivated to earn more. The higher the salary, the more the needs and the cycle continues.

Many of you, while at school your prayer was “Lord God, help me qualify” God listened and you qualified then your prayer became. “Lord God, help me get a job.”

This too, God listened and you got a job paying Ugx 1million.” Then you went back to prayer and said “Lord God, what I did to deserve just Ugx 1M? Help me remove the Headmaster and I replace him.”

This time God decided to stop there and so back to your colleagues still in school praying for your job!

Now you are impatient that your salary is not increasing; as fast as you want.
What you decide to do is get a small salary advance to move into a better apartment at the request of your new girlfriend. With an apartment in a good neighborhood comes the need to upgrade your means of transport. And now you need a small car.
The next thing, you look for a salary loan. Now remember your income is lower than your new expenses. Your salary can afford a taxi, but you have a Toyota Kikumi!

High rent, coupled with high fuel and a high car loan repayment not withstanding yawning kids at home, give you headache.

All of a sudden a man who was walking straight is now bending. That is the pressure! Are you putting yourself into financial pressures?
As the pressure becomes overbearing, your Head teacher announces that whoever produces a distinction at UNEB in any subject gets a salary Bonus. That incentive comes timely. Its music to your ears. You decide to cheat the exams for your students so that they can pass obvious of the fact that you are killing their future completely.

•That is how people cross their ethical boundary. They have motive, we all do. Have self-imposed pressures and find ways of taking advantage of performance incentives set up in a good faith at reward star employees.

The finance pressure test

a)I want you to list down the top five things you spend your monthly salary on?
b)Write down the top 5 things you wish you had.

If the above are different, you have motive.
Is your salary enough to cover both (a) and (b) – if no, you have pressure.

Are their incentives to tap into at the work place? Can everyone get the incentives? If no, then you are likely to cross the ethical line and grab them. With the right motive and financial pressures, anyone can rationalize or find quick reasons to justify their actions and decisions.

[The prison study]

It is in the mind that fraud starts. Are you on the lookout for reasons to justify your actions?
Do you say or hear someone say, “I have been here for a very long period of time, so I deserve a better salary?”

“The new staff is earning a lot than me who is older”

“This company makes a lot of money, so just 2 million won’t make it collapse.”

“My kid is sick; let me take this to treat him. I will refund from my salary after all, this is not stealing”

And many more such reasons to justify your frauds.

Have you ever applied for and denied a promotion, salary increase or transfer or any other favour? That is a possible justification…….

With justification comes ability. Can I do it? Here you get deep into your abilities. You challenge yourself. You get a new drive to try proving that you are not a failure.
You ask
“I am capable?”
Can I really commit a fraud without being caught?
“I am capable?”

Can I beat the system, and make everyone look a fool?
“I am capable?”

Of course your inner self will be saying “you cannot.” And because the conscious part of the brain controls all your senses like sight which see the physical and your subconscious mind controls the heart which sees the invisible – you easily follow your senses.

You plot a scheme to prove you are capable.

So, you go into action. It can even last you years until your ego is filled.
You start to say, even if they catch me I will have proved myself! You suddenly realize that strong controls won’t allow you. There are many checks and balances.
So, you start looking for any opportunity. Is there any lapse to explain and make my scheme through?

About M. B. Mugisa

Mustapha Barnabas Mugisa is one of those rare people who provides business consulting and advisory to professionals and corporate entities who demand the very best. He is a prolific speaker and governance (strategy and risk) expert. His speaking involves making key notes at major conferences and business events on both technical subjects and leadership skills. A change agent and motivational speaker. Mustapha provides tools and proven methodologies to remarkable results through making people appreciate change. Visit Mustapha's LinkedIn profile to know more. Mustapha is the architect of #WinningMindset Leadership and #WinningTheGame strategy approach that combines Harvard Business strategy Playing To Win, with the Blue Ocean Strategy and Balanced Score Card to deliver a strategy that is easy to execute and monitor. Visit for special insights to improve your condition. Are you too good to be great?

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