Why is there more fraud during the holidays?

By Lindsay Gill, CFE

Fraud happens all the time, but the holiday season provides situations that people may try to take advantage of. The “fraud triangle” has three points to it:

  1. Need or Greed
  2. Opportunity
  3. Rationalization

During the holidays, we often see changes in two of these points: increased need or greed and increased opportunity. People want to be able to provide the coolest gifts for their kids, or they want to make sure they have the hottest item for the holiday party, so they feel more pressure to provide these things in whatever way they can.

The increased opportunity comes into play because there are so many people in and out of the office and on vacation. Some of the regular processes and procedures can be more relaxed during this time, so there’s more opportunity for employees to commit fraud.

As we continue through the holiday season, there are some behaviors to be on the lookout for in identifying potential “fraudsters.” Classic signs include living beyond ones means or  the employee who seems too good to be true:

  • Extravagant cars
  • Expensive designer fashion
  • Expensive jewelry
  • Gambling
  • Going on elaborate vacations
  • Not taking a time off to spend with family
  • Coming to work early and staying late
  • Refuses to relinquish control of company books and records

Any of these red flag behaviors deserve a second look.



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