CORPORATE FRAUD HANDBOOK
employees who were generating his sales. Mr. Zac was especially suspicious of the help stealing. He always eyed the employees warily when they left in the evening, I assume because he thought their clothing and bags were stuffed with his merchandise. So his employees figured out novel ways to steal for no other reason than to get back at Mr. Zac. I was above all that, or so I thought. But then Mr. Zac did something to me person- ally, and my attitude changed completely.
One day I was upstairs in the storeroom getting merchandise off the top shelf. Since the high reach had pulled my shirttail out, I was standing there tucking it in when Mr. Zac walked by. He didn’t say a word. I went back downstairs to work and thought no more of it. But 10 minutes later Mr. Zac called me into his small, cubbyhole office, closed the door, and asked, “What were you tucking in your pants upstairs?” Just my shirt, I replied. “I don’t believe you,” Mr. Zac said. “Unless you unzip your pants right now and show me, you’re fired.” At first, of course, it didn’t register that he was serious. When it finally did, I was faced with a dilemma: Unzip my pants for the boss, or be late on the rent and face eviction. I chose the former, but as I stood there letting my pants fall down around my knees, my face burned with anger and embarrassment. Never before had I been placed in a position like this—having to undress to prove my innocence.
After seeing for himself that I didn’t have any of his precious merchandise on my person, Mr. Zac sent me back to the sales floor. I was a different person, though. No longer was I in- terested in selling merchandise and being a good employee. I was interested in getting even, and that’s what I did. Over the next few months I tried my best to steal him blind—clothing, underwear, outerwear, neckties—you name it. With the help of some of the other employ- ees, we even stole a large display case. He never caught on, and eventually I quit the job. Was I justified in stealing from Mr. Zac? Absolutely not. At this age, given the same cir- cumstances, would I do it again? No. But at that particular time, I was young, idealistic, very headstrong, and totally fearless. Criminologists have documented that the reason so many young people lack fear is because they do not yet realize actions can have serious con- sequences; it never occurred to me that I could have gone to jail for stealing from Mr. Zac.
The impact of job loyalty—or, like Mr. Zac’s employees, the lack of it—is an impor- tant consideration in the occupational fraud and abuse formula. With changes in the American workforce, we may or may not experience more fraud-related problems. Much has been written recently concerning the downsizing, outsourcing, and increased employee turnover in business. If the employee of the future is largely a contract worker, much of the incentive of loyalty toward organizations could be lost. Such a trend seems to be under way, but its real fraud impact has not been determined. However, fraud is only one cost of doing business. If the outsourcing of corporate America does indeed cause more occupational fraud and abuse, the benefits of restructuring may be seen as outweighing the cost of more crime, at least in the short term. In the long run, it is diffi- cult to justify how employees stealing from organizations can be beneficial to anyone. That was Cressey’s theory, too.
Since Cressey’s study was done in the early 1950s, the workforce was obviously differ- ent from today’s. But the employee faced with an immediate, nonsharable financial need