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4.0 out of 5 stars TRUST NO ONE! Lose your faith in humanity but keep your retirement!, May 4, 2010
This review is from: The Complete Guide to Spotting Accounting Fraud & Cover-Ups: Everything You Need to Know Explained Simply (Paperback)
For those of us still walking the tightrope between optimism and pessimism, the verdict is in . . . . the glass is half empty when it comes to human nature and if you don't want your nest egg empty as well, it is critical that you read The Complete Guide to Spotting Accounting Fraud and Cover-ups by Martha Maeda now.

This is a must-read for anyone involved in any capacity of a business. Vigilant owners and would-be owners should consider it their new bible and make it mandatory reading for any employee involved in their finances, since, as Maeda points out, there are many levels where fraudulent actions could be caught, but because of oversight, are not. One word of warning before taking the aforementioned advice: One man's science kit is another's Anarchist Cookbook and this book could do as much harm as help should it fall into the wrong hands . . . but perhaps that is just the pessimist talking. That being said, Maeda walks the reader through every aspect of fraud from the various types (financial statement, corruption, asset misappropriation, etc.) to detection of each in great detail. However, what many readers might find just as useful are the segments that profile the would-be embezzler; surprisingly, it's not what one would think.

Punctuating a highly readable and educational text are segments from newspaper headlines about costly fraud cases. This adds emphasis to the importance of the information presented and serves as a warning for the "it could never happen to me types." Case in point, even the coffers aren't safe from embezzlement. If your faith in the priesthood wasn't shaken by molestation allegations, reading the news story "Priest Calls Theft from Collection Basket his 401 K," should do it. Maeda uses this story to emphasize the point made by her research in Chapter 3, "Who Commits Fraud?" According to Cressey's Triangle, or the fraud triangle, any ordinary person can and just might commit fraud if three factors unite: personal motivation, the opportunity to do so, and means of justifying the criminal behavior. While the eternal optimists would like to think an employee would never betray them, Maeda's research clearly illustrates that under the right (or wrong) set of circumstances, almost any employee has the potential to commit fraud.

At this point the optimist might be questioning their employees, their religion, even the fidelity of their spouses. Is nothing sacred? Sadly, the answer is no when it comes to money. The Complete Guide to Spotting Accounting Fraud and Cover-ups addresses the realists by acknowledging that while there is no way to stop fraud entirely, there is still hope. Implementing the proactive approaches provided in the book may curb workplace dishonesty without going all 1984. By creating and maintaining an ethical environment, an employer may be able to minimize fraud without turning to the services of the Thought Police. However, just as your mother nagged you to be a good example for your little brother, Maeda points out that the attitude of senior management has a trickle-down effect on all the employees of the organization. So be prepared to set the example because no one likes a hypocrite, and it's a lot easier to justify stealing from one.
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