The President’s Golf Game…and other deceptive behavior

Everyone knows that fraud is rampant in major verticals (E.g. Banking, Financial Services, Healthcare, Insurance, Telecom, Transportation, Utilities, etc.). However, while stories from these industries dominate news cycles, the reality is that one would be hard pressed to name an industry, sport or hobby where people aren’t engaging in some type of fraudulent or deceptive behavior every day. In other words, liars, cheaters, connivers, and counterfeiters are everywhere one turns. Even in Sunday sanctuaries, where fraudsters routinely “fleece the flock” (God Fraud). This article features a few of the bad behaviors and often overlooked “one-offs.” Traditionally, these deceptive behaviors get less ink but contribute to trillion dollar, global losses annually.

Animals

No alt text provided for this image
Dog owners are abusing others service dog privilege

Purebred fraud: Money and value are key themes in fraud schemes. Purebred animals fall into both categories because pedigrees add value which fetches big bucks. As a result, Fido fraud is prevalent.

Daily Irony: a woman in a big box Home Store carrying a little, white, pocket pooch, seen standing next to a “No Pets Allowed – Service Dogs Only” sign. Cute dog, but your precious little Fluffy clearly isn’t a “service dog.” 

Are customers and store employees the only ones bothered by this? Apparently, not. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, signed a bill into law on May 2nd, penalizing those falsely claiming that Fluffy’s a “service animal” when she isn’t.

If you’re in Iowa and feel compelled to lie about Fluffy’s true purpose, now there are consequences for deceptive behavior. For instance, the 2nd offense might net you an all-expense paid vacation at the luxurious Graybar Hotel.

Then, there’s United Airline’s new policy clarifying that peacocks ARE NOT “emotional support” animals.

Art

Art is heavily counterfeited
Deceptive Behavior: Famous art works are being counterfeited

The original works of Old Masters like Van Gogh, Picasso, Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Cezanne, Michelangelo, and Monet cost millions at Sotheby’s and Christie’s. However, spending “full boat” doesn’t ensure paintings are original. Case in point, fakes, forgeries, and knockoffs are prevalent.

A report by the Fine Art Expert Institute places the amount of bogus art at 50% of the total annual sales market. With absurd amounts of money changing hands, art experts are currently fighting the scourge of deceptive behavior. Their tools? Currently, they’re assessing authenticity with high tech equipment and forensic analysis. 

Carpeting

Fake fibers are prevalent
The fraud under your feet

The fibers you’re walking on may not be what you purchased or paid for. How would anyone ever figure it out? Unless the brand new, recently installed carpeting is ripped up and sent to a lab for analysis, most won’t. That’s the beauty of rug rip-offs, most people will never know they’ve been duped.

Charity

Scammers are trying to take advantage of your charitable nature
Beware of fraud in non-profits

Highly rated charities use donor dollars in the manner represented to the public but unethical ones don’t. That said, if 50%, or less, of dollars raised, are going directly to the charities mission, (i.e. what they market they’re raising money for) then it’s widely believed that entity’s operating fraudulently.

By comparison, excellent charities are up in the high 80 – low 90% range. Which means that 8.5 – 9 of 10 dollars raised are going to the stated purpose and not to administrative costs or expenses. Similarly, low mission statement utilization percentages (50% or less) are serious indicators of mismanagement, deceptive behavior, fraud, waste, and abuse. So, do your due diligence before giving your hard-earned money to charity scammers.

College Cheaters & Deceptive Behavior

Cheating is prevalent in colleges
Varsity Blues: Won’t Win an Oscar

Admissions: Singin the Varsity Blues.

Papers: Studied too little? Procrastinated a lot? Drank in excess while partying at the Delta House? Dean Wormer to Flounder “0.2… fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son! Mr. Blutarsky (two pencils in nose)… 0.0. Daniel Simpson Day has no grade point average. All courses incomplete.”

Need a paper? No problem. Simply go online and buy one.

Degrees: That hot new job you’re seeking requires a college degree, but you don’t have one and there’s no time to get it. Diploma Mill. Need I say more?

Research: The prestigious Dr. Tweed Elbowpatch would never fudge study results to obtain grants, fame, and fortune. Or would he? Dirty little academic scandals involving this type of deceptive behavior are out of the lab at institutions like Duke University now. Word to the wise: it’s a federal offense.

Deceptive Documents

Anything can be forged these days...
Deceptive documents

Recently sent to my e-mail (really). “Our array of fake diplomas, college degrees and passport are created by our expert team of printers… to the highest level of quality.” Found the exact same language and variations of it, on a web of different sites (at least 15) online.

“We offer the following products and services: Training Certificates, High School Diplomas, LSAT, GMAT, MCAT Certificates, Marriage, Birth, and Death Certificates, Passports, Drivers Licenses, etc.”

Speaking of fake documents…Want to impress your friends and followers on social media that you’re livin large? You can always fake your vacation. The question is, why wouldn’t you just take the trip and have fun?

For the cheaters: Companies create fake travel documents, bogus hotel information, and fake conference itineraries to help cover up your infidelity and deceptive behavior. Likewise, for the cheated on: technology and due diligence are your friends! Kim Komando’s got your back with these suggestions. In other words, where there’s a need – there’s an illicit service. Capitalism at its finest.

Fishing (Not Phishing)

Big money brings out the worst in some folks
Even cheaters want to win fishing tournaments

Fishing is relaxing – my “mental mush time.” While on the water, I often experience the most incredible things that one won’t see sitting at their desk.

But if you’re playing word association and someone says “fishing,” your response isn’t likely going to be “fraud.” But big money and prizes in national/regional/local fishing tournaments, along with bragging rights and name recognition, lure cheaters.

Food

Most people cant' tell the difference between organic and non organic food
Big dollars in organic food

Annual sales of organic foods hovered around 50 billion dollars in 2017. The demand for organic foods and the inability for consumers to determine food’s provenance creates a niche for organic food fraudsters (OFF’s) and unethical distributors, wholesalers, and merchants.

In other words, slap an organic label on non-organic food, or fudge the percentages, and instantly charge more for the product. The beauty is that very few foodies can actually tell the difference between organic and non-organic foods as Penn and Teller hilariously proved in this clip.

Similarly, the average consumer has difficulty determining the difference between one type of fish and another. Take a cheap piece of fish, throw some seasoning on it, call it something trendy like “Chilean Sea Bass” and watch profits soar.

Additionally, there’s the always popular food stamp fraud.

Gift Cards

Shakin fraud up in Shakopee
Shakin fraud up in Shakopee

Gift cards, the convenient present to give someone when you can’t figure out what they really want. In other words, you buy the card and the recipient picks out the perfect gift themselves. Easy.

However, what’s easy for consumers is easy for criminals as well. Fraud is being committed against these products in record numbers. But wait there’s more. Let’s not forget about their role in money laundering, terrorism, and human trafficking, etc.

How’s it done you ask? Let me count the ways. Shouldn’t big players in the card industry have figured out a solution to this problem already? Perhaps, but in Shakopee, a small town Southwest of Minneapolis, David just took on Goliath. In what may be the first U.S. gift card fraud prevention initiative of its kind, the city of Shakopee took matters into their own hands. Additionally, they created gift card buying regulations, designed to curtail the deceptive behavior and fraud epidemic through the illegal purchase of these cards. In other words, their actions are a step in the right direction.

Golf

Cheating at golf is commonplace... even for the President
Bad behavior: Golfers Gone Wild!

If you’re a golfer and someone asks, “what’s your handicap,” you have reason to fib. Why? Simply put, the lower your handicap, the better golfer you are. Handicapping fraud is a real thing. So much so that National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame author, Rick Reilly’s new book, Commander in Cheat, focuses on the Presidents self-reported golf exploits.

The President claims to have a 2.8 handicap. However, by comparison, Golf Digest has the Golden Bear (Jack Nicklaus’) handicap at 3.4. Nicklaus, one of the greatest golfers of all time, won 18 majors and had 63 tour victories.

Still, think the Prez is a 2.8? Reilly, people he interviewed and other news outlets suggest there’s outright fibbery going on here. Ironically, a Golf Week advertiser’s words were “Honor, Integrity, Trust… principles we believe hold true both on and off the course.” A veiled reference to a 2.8 handicap? 

Horse Racing

Big money + sports = big time fraud
Cheaters make big bucks at track

“And down the stretch, they come!” Money, sports, rich people and high stakes wagering (exactas, trifectas, superfectas) with a pinch of organized crime tossed in for taste. Why wouldn’t there be fraud in that? Cheaters, bribers, scammers and fixers looking to win, place and show, oh my!

Music

Singer Songwriter Van Morrison
Van the Man – No music fraud here

Singer-songwriters like Paul Simon, Stevie Nicks, James Taylor and “Van the Man” Morrison are a rare breed. However, these days, everyone’s a specialist. Behind every successful artist like the Rocketman (Elton – Not KJU) is a talented lyricist who writes the songs.

Elton’s success is undeniably tied to the “long, long time” (Honky Chateau) collaboration with the uber-talented Bernie Taupin. But what’s a prose challenged artist, without a Taupin-esque lyricist in his closet, do to get a #1 hit? Appropriate – borrow – lift – steal, then claim it as your own inspiration. Nary a day goes without some artist being sued for song fraud.

Reviews – Ratings

5 Star Mania
Fraudulent business approval

I’ve written about bogus reviews in the past and it’s still an epidemic. Likewise, the FTC recently charged a company criminally who paid a 3rd party to write and post a fake consumer review. Everyone wants that “5 Star” seal of approval. Here’s a twist. Someone suggested that people steal reviews from other sites, putting them up on their own. Who knew that was a thing?

Small Biz

Small businesses - big frauds
Fraud in the contracting process

The contractual benefits of being a woman-owned, minority-owned or small business are an incentive to misrepresent business structure or status. Absent the fib, businesses wouldn’t have a competitive advantage in the government bidding process. What’s a little “white lie” amongst friends?

Wine

Collectors are paying for bogus bottles of the grape
Counterfeit grape juice

Global collectors are willing to pay top dollar for a Chateau Snobby Acres 1937 vintage bottle of burgundy. So, why not just buy property, grow grapes and become a vintner the old-fashioned way? Because THAT takes years, hard work and serious capital. Skip all that.

Getting in the game is too easy. Use your basement chemistry skills, get some bottles, print a few labels, do a little online marketing, schmooze in the right circles and voila! You have a counterfeit 1937 Chateau Snobby Acres to pawn off on some unsuspecting, arrogant soul with money to burn.

Is your Compliance program a Champion or Carnival Chump? See our last article here.

ABOUT DAN DRAZ

Dan Draz is a fraud risk management consultant, keynote speaker, industry trainer and published author. Draz is an often-quoted fraud and investigations expert in industry, trade, online and news publications. Draz is the principal of Chicago-based Fraud Solutions, and consults with clients across industry verticals, providing enterprise fraud risk management consulting, GRC strategies and ethics assessments and training. He has a Masters in Economic Crime Management, is a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), a Fellow at the Governance and Accountability Institute and a 2018 “Top Thought Leader in Trust” recipient. He writes and records unique business and consumer multimedia public awareness material under the name of “Detective Dan.” For more information: info@fraudsolutions.com