Several years ago, when interviewing a partner at one of the planet’s largest accounting firms, I was wowed by her hard-boiled take on human nature. Evoking shades of Brian Wansink’s Mindless Eating, my interviewee likened opportunities for embezzlement and other garden varieties of fraud to the temptation of having a candy dish constantly within arm’s reach. Just as it’s ultimately futile to resist those M&Ms on your office desk, trusted employees, she noted, may have opportunities to embezzle as a continuing temptation. “. . . even nice people have been known to take inappropriate advantage of opportunities and gaps in control systems,” she emphasized.
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