I say this in every presentation, so often I’m not sure why people ask me to come and say it in person. But here it is: I can’t steal from you, until you trust me.
We’d like to think we can see it coming, and we’d like to think we can tell which job applicant out of 20 or 50 or 100 will be the one to watch out for. But we won’t. After all, if we could tell in advance who was more likely to steal from us, then we wouldn’t hire them! In fact, the one thing my victims said most frequently after my crimes were discovered was, “But he was such a nice guy.” Nice indeed.
We can’t control the darkness in someone’s heart, or their greed, or their financial pressures. We can’t control the mental gymnastics they use to justify what they do. All we can do is limit the opportunity for someone to take advantage. If our controls are strong and our culture is one of accountability, then one of two things will happen: either the thief will think twice about stealing, or the first instance of theft will be revealed immediately. In either case the potential loss will be limited, perhaps even to zero.