Plutonium and internet start-up company which was founded at the beginning of the technology boom was developing the technological systems necessary to support the rapidly expanding user base. Plutonium purchased an expensive and complex billing system to automate the billing of internet accounts using a credit card to integrate its system. Jonathan, the manager of operations department, was given the phony credit card to help fix corrupted accounts created by the launch and integration.
Chris an employee of Plutonium, who very knowledgeable and trusted was given the phony credit card number.
Chris was using the credit card to access websites that have pirated software and music. After an FBI investigation, Chris was warned and put into probation. Jonathan was asked to write a warning letter to Chris. Few months later, Jonathan noticed a change in Chris’s behavior. He was making unusual purchases, such as Palm Pilots, MP3 Players. The first element of the fraud triangle is pressure. Every fraud perpetrator faces some kind of perceived pressure.
Most pressures involve a financial need, although nonfinancial pressures, such as the need to report financial results better than actual performance, frustration with work, or even a challenge to beat the system, can also motivate fraud. Financial pressures often motivate misappropriation frauds by employees. Common pressures such as living beyond one’s means, greed, high debt, unrecognized performance and inadequate pay could lead employees to fraud. Chris had several perceived pressures to commit fraud.
He has a family to support and he earned minimal wages compared to other who has his skills. Chris could have a student loan and other debts he has to pay in addition to taking care of his family. That could have caused him a lot of pressure. The second element of the fraud triangle is perceived opportunity. “The opportunity to commit and conceal fraud when a company has unclear policies and procedures, fails to teach and stress corporate honesty, and fails to prosecute those who perpetrate fraud. ” (Romney 129).
The opportunity for fraud is created when employees are given access to records and valuable information. In the case of Chris, he had the opportunity to commit fraud because he has the expertise in technology. He has the phony credit card given to him by his manager and he was able to use that without the knowledge of his manager or co-workers. The third element of fraud triangle is rationalization. Rationalization allows perpetrators to justify their illegal behavior. For example, a fraudster can rationalize by saying, “I only took what they owed me. Or the rules do not apply to me”.
Perpetrators rationalize that they are not being dishonest, that honesty is not required of them, or that they value what they take more than honesty and integrity. “Some perpetrators rationalize that they are not hurting a real person, but a faceless and nameless computer system or an impersonal company that will not miss the money. ” (Romney 130). Christ could have thought that he was underpaid and by using these credit cards he was not hurting anyone. He might have also used the lack of underpayment as justification for the use of the company’s credit cards for personal gain.