Risky Behaviour Of An Insider Threat — The Cheating Employee

In 2015, Volkswagen admitted to creating a device that allowed the company’s vehicles to cheat emissions tests in the United States and had a $5.7 billion settlement.

The following year, Wells Fargo revealed that 5,300 employees had secretly opened millions of phony accounts in an attempt to hit sales targets and receive bonuses.

Close to home, a report from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) found that clients were being charged fees without providing advice by banks and major financial institutions.

What Is Cheating?

Cheating can be defined as behaving dishonestly or unfairly to gain an advantage or achieve a desired outcome.

In many cases, cheating involves breaking the rules, regulations, or social norms to obtain an unfair advantage or benefit.

Cheating in the workplace refers to the act of intentionally misrepresenting information, data, or behaviour for personal gain or advantage.

Employees may cheat by engaging in fraudulent or unethical behaviour, such as misrepresenting their qualifications or experience, falsifying records, or stealing company resources.

In the workplace, cheating can have severe consequences for the individual and the organisation.

When employees cheat, they can undermine the organisation’s trust and credibility and harm the company’s reputation.

In addition, cheating can lead to financial losses, legal consequences, and a loss of trust among customers and other stakeholders.

Example: Australia’s Biggest Insider Trading Heist

What happened?

It is alleged that an employee at the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) who had access to unreleased jobs, retail and trade data could provide this information to his friend working at the Australian National Bank.

They used the yet-to-be-released government data to place bets in the foreign exchange market. The former National Australia Bank trader turned $10,000 of seed money into $7.8 million before both men were arrested in May 2014.

Fictitious Scenario:

John is a mid-level manager at a manufacturing company. He has been with the company for several years and is well-respected by his colleagues and superiors.

However, John has recently fallen on hard times financially and has started to feel pressure to maintain his lavish lifestyle.

To maintain his lifestyle, John manipulates the company’s inventory records. For example, he starts to record that certain high-value items have been sold when in reality, they are still in stock. He then takes the items and sells them on the black market for a significant profit.

John’s fraudulent behaviour goes undetected for several months, during which time the company starts to experience a significant loss in revenue.

As the company’s profits continue to decline, the CEO launches an investigation into the company’s finances.

Through the investigation, it is discovered that John has been manipulating inventory records and stealing high-value items for his own personal gain.

The company is forced to take legal action against John and terminates his employment.

The damage to the company is significant, not only in terms of the financial losses incurred but also in terms of the loss of trust and reputation in the marketplace.

What Causes Employees To Cheat At Work?

There are many reasons why individuals may engage in cheating in the workplace.

One reason is that they may face life pressure or must meet unrealistic targets or deadlines. This can create a sense of desperation and lead them to engage in unethical behaviour to meet their goals.

Another thought, employees may cheat in the workplace if they feel undervalued or under-compensated for their work. This can lead to a sense of entitlement and a belief that they are justified in cheating to make up for what they perceive as a lack of recognition or compensation.

Another reason, employees may perceive their behaviour as acceptable or even encouraged by their superiors. If management turns a blind eye to cheating or fails to punish those who engage in it, employees may believe that cheating is an acceptable means of achieving success in the workplace.

Additionally, some employees may cheat simply because they do not see it as wrong or unethical. This may be due to a lack of moral education or a belief that the ends justify the means.

Warning Indicators

Something To Think About

Overall, cheating is a negative behaviour that undermines fairness, trust, and integrity.

It can occur in many different contexts and seriously affect individuals and the organisation.

Questions For You

  1. What policies and procedures are in place to prevent and detect fraudulent behaviour in the workplace?
  2. How do you encourage employees to report suspicious behaviour or fraudulent activity?
  3. Do you monitor employee behaviour and detect potential red flags indicating fraudulent activity?
  4. How do you ensure that employees are aware of the consequences of engaging in fraudulent behaviour, both for themselves and the organisation?