OUR THOUGHTS ON:

Sharpen Your Listening Skills to Detect Fraud

Business Advisors

By Frank Wisehart MBA

We frequently forget the lessons learned as a child. If we want a cookie from the counter, sliding a chair across the kitchen floor is not the best method for concealing our actions. The noise a chair makes resonates throughout the house, alerting parents of our activity. And the stupidity defense of, “I was getting a cookie for you,” relies on how you deliver the message, not on the facts. A simple probing of the motive crumbles most cookie conspiracies.

Yet, as we become older, the same flimsy technique works! We ignore the telltale noise of chairs scraping across the floor in everyday speak. We listen but we do not hear the deception.

When confronted with evidence that might indicate guilt, truthful people respond directly and believe the evidence will prove their innocence. They reply to questioning in the following manner: “I did not do that.” Deceptive people respond indirectly: “That is not something I would do,” “What makes you think I did it?” Notice in the first truthful response how the individual responds directly to the question. Truthful people believe the evidence will ultimately prove their innocence.

Deceptive people want to know upon what evidence you are relying so that they can defeat or deflect its trajectory. Notice in the two deceptive responses, “That is not something I would do,” “What makes you think I did it?” that neither response constitutes a lie. Similarly, both replies are unresponsive to the initial question of “Did you do it?”

Fraudsters prefer to be deceptive rather than lie. This way they maintain a fallback position of “I never lied to you” when pressed for answers in the face of additional evidence. By tuning your ears to listen to this type of misplaced response to direct questions, you can sharpen your investigative skills. When you hear this type of response, ask more detailed questions and listen for the responses. Do the responses produce anxiety in the individual? If so, ask more questions.

Remember, no matter how flatteringly delivered, the chair scraping slowly across the floor is not someone getting you a cookie! 

Schneider Downs can assist with detecting fraud in your business. Contact Joel Rosenthal, Shareholder, or Frank Wisehart, Director of Schneider Downs Business Advisors, for a private consultation.

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 This advice is not intended or written to be used for, and it cannot be used for, the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties that may be imposed, or for promoting, marketing or recommending to another person, any tax related matter.

Material discussed is meant for informational purposes only, and it is not to be construed as investment, tax, or legal advice. Please note that individual situations can vary. Therefore, this information should be relied upon when coordinated with individual professional advice.

© 2018 Schneider Downs. All rights-reserved. All content on this site is property of Schneider Downs unless otherwise noted and should not be used without written permission.

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