In the wake of the Equifax data breach, a growing number of people are asking for guidance on how to determine if they are a fraudster.
The new advice comes from a recent paper by a team of researchers at the University of Washington and MIT, and is intended to provide a clearer understanding of how people in a wide range of industries can be identified as fraudsters.
For example, in the paper, researchers use data from a study by Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that examined the behavior of individuals in the IT industry and found that more than half of the participants in the study had made a “fraudulent purchase” and had “made fraudulent payments.”
The researchers then compared those people with a control group of “normal” people who did not have those fraudulent behavior.
The researchers found that people in the “fonz” group were more likely to be dishonest and “disappear” in a survey and to take “other actions to conceal their fraud,” such as hiding the identity of their employers or changing their online identities.
“In other words, we are seeing a very real correlation between fraud and identity theft,” wrote researchers in the latest issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The paper found that, on average, the “toxic” individuals in a sample of over 1,200 individuals were more than three times as likely to commit fraud than the “clean” group.
And the “sustainable” group was more likely than the other two groups to commit a variety of frauds, including “theft of services, identity theft, and credit card fraud.”
The study, titled “Identifying Fraudsters: A Critical Review,” concludes that it’s important to be careful about how we define fraud and to be aware of the behaviors that indicate fraud, especially among individuals in industries that are more likely for fraud to take place.
The report, which is written by the team led by Elizabeth C. Siegel, the Elizabeth Siegel Professor of Economics at the UW, notes that a “consensus” on how fraud should be defined and how it should be dealt with is “a valuable resource.”
She told The Verge that it is important to keep in mind that “there are many individuals who are engaging in fraud, whether they’re just acting on their own or using a third party service.”
But the authors of the paper suggest that we should focus on “identifying the people and the industries that most often involve fraud.”
“While the data we collected is limited, we found that a consistent pattern emerged,” they wrote.
“The individuals who were most likely to engage in fraudulent activities were those who were also the least likely to take responsibility for their actions, the least able to provide clear information about the actions they were taking, and were also least likely on average to be able to distinguish between honest and fraudulent behavior.”
The authors also suggest that “the public and regulators should be vigilant when it comes to identifying the fraudulent activity of their peers,” because it is a “particularly significant vulnerability to fraud and can make a significant difference in the economic, financial, and social impacts of fraud.”