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Rewards of Dishonesty

NCJ Number
White Paper Volume: 17 Issue: 2 Dated: March/April 2003 Pages: 26-29
Joseph T. Wells CPA
Date Published
March 2003
4 pages
This article describes case studies on how an instance of dishonesty can lead to a pattern of fraud.
There is no such thing as a person that is completely honest or dishonest in all situations. Honesty is situational; it depends on what is at stake. In the business world, dishonesty normally concerns gaining an unfair advantage. Some people are willing to sell their honor very cheaply. High-ranking officials of business and government can fall for seemingly minor indiscretions. Logic is clouded by perceived consequences of certain deeds. People that find themselves in these situations do not start out that way. It occurs one lie at a time; each falsehood designed to conceal the previous one. This is the slippery slope of dishonesty. Each person has a moral code. It becomes the foundation for the ethical decisions made on a daily basis. Certain aspects of this moral code are universal, such as honesty, fairness, kindness, courtesy, and respect. What makes it difficult is sacrificing short-term rewards for longer-term goals. The greater the anticipated immediate benefit, the more likely the person is to compromise a sense of morality. Abiding by one’s own code of honor is a powerful reward.


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