Tag Archives: honestly dishonest
As a wannabe academic I read as much as I can about women and crime. This week I came across the term “neutralization” by David Matza and Gresham Sykes (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Techniques_of_neutralization) 1957.
The definition from Wikipedia: Techniques of neutralization are a theoretical series of methods by which those who commit illegitimate acts temporarily neutralize certain values within themselves which would normally prohibit them from carrying out such acts, such as morality, obligation to abide by the law, and so on. In simpler terms, it is a psychological method for people to turn off “inner protests” when they do, or are about to do something they themselves perceive as wrong.
And in simplest terms:
- The Denial of Responsibility
- The Denial of Injury
- The Denial of the Victim
- The Condemnation of the Condemners
- The Appeal to Higher Loyalties
This technical term was new to me but in my career I have experienced it every time I have interviewed a suspect about their involvement in a crime. As many investigators know you understand neutralization in order to get the story or the confession.
What is even more fascinating is the difference between men and women and their use of neutralization. So off I went into the land of academia to research this more thoroughly. A very interesting paper with 40 subjects (20 males and 20 females) gave even more insight:
Gender, Identity, and Accounts: How White Collar Offenders Do Gender When Making Sense of Their Crimes
In these interviews it became clear that all male and female subjects used different neutralizations to justify their crimes. However, their justifications varied by gender in many cases. Men feel the need to be the breadwinner. It is part of their masculinity to provide for their families.
Women are the caregivers more generally even though being the primary breadwinner is increasing. From the study the women “claimed that the lack of capable males to support them necessitated that they assume the full responsibility as the family caregiver…For these women, the use of the defense of necessity was often coupled with the fulfilling of the caregiver role. They claimed that the necessity of their crimes was heightened because of their desire to protect or shield their family from harm… Women tended to emphasize their responsibilities as caregivers as the main driving force behind the necessity, coupled with the failures of others in their families (usually men).
Another part of the study I have seen up close and personal. Men often were “merely seeking a justifiable reprisal for the wrong that had been committed against him. Whereas the men who used this technique pointed to generalized victims (e.g., the government), the women more often pointed to specific individuals who wronged them (e.g., employers). For the business owners out there I think you will find this very fitting.
As I continue to work on pink collar crime and spread the word many of these issues come up in investigations. Knowing how men think and react in comparison to women is helpful when you are trying to put a case together. I would love to hear your experience with male and female subjects in investigations of white collar type crimes. Thank you in advance.
I was interviewed this last week by Kyle Iboshi, investigative reporter, for KGW News. Here is the link:
The word is getting out.
Bonnie Brannock Davis was a longtime volunteer for the Giles County Lifesaving and Rescue Squad. She also had a good paying, $120k per year, job at The Chemical Lime Company in Ripplemead until she was laid off.
She just was sentenced to two months in jail for a $65k theft from the Giles County Lifesaving and Rescue Squad. She was facing up to 100 years. She had no previous criminal history and had volunteered decades as a medic for Giles County Lifesaving and Rescue Squad.
She apologized over and over to the Giles County Lifesaving and Rescue Squad, which she called “the love of my life,” and to her family and the community at large.
Davis repaid the $65k to the non-profit. She stated that she made “anonymous” donations to repay over time. Davis told investigators that she had tried to repay the rescue squad by making anonymous donations. That is what many embezzlers do not understand. It is easier to steal money but much harder to replace the stolen funds. They may have intentions to repay but the mechanics of it are much more difficult to do. However, she did make 2 payments before sentencing to cover the $65k theft.
There was no “extravagant” spending on Davis’ part according to her attorney. I’ve seen this before. They start stealing because of a pressure and it snowballs. In this case Davis was a lifetime member of the non-profit.
People like Davis don’t wake up in the morning and say they are going to steal but at some point something triggers it. In Davis’ case the loss of a good paying job was most likely the trigger.
Davis is on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/bonnie-davis-7b57b76 and from her information was a Deputy a long time ago. After she was let go it appears she started her own business which it seems did not replace her salary.
You just never know. Pay attention to your volunteers and their situations.
What is a get out of jail free card? Unfortunately for some, it’s the card your employee has when you catch them stealing from you. The panic from the moment you find out you have been stolen from can become even greater. This is when you confront your employee (remember you need legal and HR help for that) and they turn the whole debacle around to possibly get out of jail and threaten you with disclosure of your dirty little secrets.
What are those dirty little secrets? Do you have two sets of books? Do you write off inappropriate expenses? Do you hire and fire illegally? This is just the start of what the desperate thief will try.
What do you do when this happens? Again, (insert legal advice here from a good attorney who has worked these cases before-not your golfing buddy) you need to process your own personal situation. I never tell someone directly not to file with law enforcement. But as your “fraud coach” I will tell you to take a step back and analyze all the angles.
I had a client once who, as so many do, wanted the perp hung in the town square. The client generally needs to be talked off the ledge. You need to prepare for the process. The process is long and hard and not cheap. You need to think about the potential PR crisis. You need to be ready to take responsibility for your business and other employees.
Tone at the top of course is part of the equation. While there is NEVER a reason for stealing you need to understand the rationalization part of the fraud triangle. When you give your assistant your credit card bill or expense report that is filled with personal expenses realize what you are doing. You are possibly chipping away at their own set of values. When they see you expense a family vacation to ski while attending a work conference they see you cheating and stealing. This can start a slippery slope (pun intended) for them to start stealing.
Most people, in my opinion, do not wake up and say I am going to steal from my boss or my employer. What does happen is they go to work and get a call from a bill collector stating they are late and their car is going to be repossessed, their husband or partner leaves them with a mortgage, their kid texts them about the school ski team they can’t afford and then they start down that path.
So when they get caught they are desperate to not go to jail and break up a family. Everything they have seen taking place at work becomes fair game for them to defend themselves. You need to be prepared for this. How do you prepare for this? Tone at the top. I can’t say that enough. What your employees see in your behavior is incredibly important.
I can’t tell you how hard it is for an employer to go through this. They want to do the right thing but they also feel the need to protect themselves and their business. So what happens is that sweet, conniving little Mary gets off and then goes to the next business. Eventually she will get caught but sometimes it takes awhile.
You set the example for your employees. Be the best example you can be. Set the right tone at the top and maybe she won’t have the get out of jail free card.
If this has happened to you I would love to hear from you. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is a quote from a business owner at the sentencing of his “trusted” bookkeeper for the theft of over $700k. In this specific case, http://bit.ly/KJQnlJ, the trusted bookkeeper had a drug addicted son she thought she could help stay out of jail by giving him money.
Unfortunately I can understand this devastation. I see it with all of my clients. They come to me at probably one of the most difficult times in their lives. All of what they thought they knew about a person is gone. And most of the time the person who stole was like a member of their family. One woman I know whose husband was a medical professional referred to the office manager as the “second wife.” This person is like the second wife. The woman who ends up stealing from you knows you inside and out. Several of the cases I have worked this trusted employee has isolated the business owner from others who may have seen signs of distrust.
This is also a familiar story for many of the formerly trusted female employees who steal. Many of them, excluding the sociopaths, steal for a “relationship.” Men steal for the 3 W’s-wine, women and wager. But according to Dorothy Zietz, http://amzn.to/1iE4Ewa, women steal for more of a Joan of Arc reason. They steal because they think it will help them deal with personal or relationship issues. I often wonder if the people they think they are stealing for are around for them when they get caught???