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In a stressed economy, three triggers of fraud emerge. What creates the pressure? How do fraudsters rationalise their actions? And at a time when employers should be most vigilant, how do opportunities open for fraudsters?

Described as the Fraud Triangle by Donald Cressy, three factors can be present in fraudulent situations.

1. Pressure.

Pressure deals with the need. Simplistically, a need for money. This however can go beyond money itself and stretch to:

  • Pressure to meet objectives.
  • Demand for increased productivity.
  • Fear of being retrenched.
  • A reduction in salary.

All these pressures are symptomatic of a stressed economy. Each or a combination of these factors can lead to an employee turning rogue.

2. Rationalisation.

Rationalisation deals with mindset shifts which ‘justify’ fraud, leading to attitudes such as:

  • My company can afford it.
  • Times are tough.
  • Expectations of me are unattainable.
  • Revenge, the age-old reaction when there’s a perception or reality of unfairness.

In a downturn, it’s easy enough for a dishonest person to justify fraud.

3. Opportunity.

A stressed economy provides the perfect storm as:

  • With resources stretched, less people do more work which leads to reduced oversight.
  • Supervisors spend more time ‘doing’ than managing.
  • Middle or senior managers are cut, losing a layer of oversight.
  • Inexperienced managers fill the gap left by retrenched managers, creating gaps in oversight.

Talk to Mubesko Africa about a preventative forensic fraud audit to assist management in recognising areas most at risk and allow an already stretched team to understand and focus on key vulnerabilities.


Smartryk Calitz
Head of Forensics
Mubesko Africa

Smartryk Calitz was acknowledged by ACFESA (Association of Certified Fraud Examiners South Africa) as South Africa’s number one Certified Fraud Examiner 2023.