(By Dr. Joseph W. Koletar) While there are hundreds of dishonest ways one person can take money from another person they fall into three basic categories. In reverse order of frequency they are:

• Force, or Threat of Force (We call these Armed Robbery, Extortion, and Kidnapping);

• Stealth (We call these Auto Theft, Burglary, and Shoplifting);

• Trust.

Although there are hundreds of variations, all frauds are a violation of trust. There is a term in our lexicon called “Con Man.” “Con” stands for “Confidence.” If I can gain your trust, you have confidence in me. That is when you become vulnerable.

How do we protect ourselves against such risks?

• With regard to Force, we avoid risky areas and dicey people.

• With regard to Stealth, we lock our doors, use alarms, and keep an eye on shady customers.

• With regard to Trust, we must learn to be discerning, because trust is ubiquitous. We can not function as individuals or societies without relying on a high degree of trust. We must assume teachers have the best interests of our children at heart; we must assume medical personnel are competent; we must assume engineers have designed our homes, cars, bridges, and airplanes correctly; and we must assume our police are honest and our elected officials are prudent.

This is fine, but common sense and experience tell us that such trust is often violated in ways great and small. Some teachers are pedophiles; some medical personnel are incompetent or dishonest; some contractors cut corners and some car maker’s fake emission standards; some police are brutal or corrupt; and some elected officials leave a lot to be desired.

Do we hide under our beds, and trust no one? Impossible. Poor construction could still cause the house to fall in on you.

These are issues both complex and vexing.

Such issues are the reason the Behavioral Forensics Group (BFG) was created. It is a group of five well-educated, experienced professionals who approach such issues from a variety of perspectives. Each perspective is valuable, but combined they bring a more comprehensive approach to complex issues, such as our need and tendency to “trust.” Their expertise ranges from psychiatry to psychology, from law to executive management, to law enforcement, accounting, auditing, and corporate governance.

A compendium of our approach to issues of trust (human behavior) can be found in our book, The A.B.C.’s of Behavioral Forensics (John Wiley & Sons, 2013.) You can learn more about our thoughts on current events involving violations of trust by visiting our blog site, “Bringing Freud to Fraud.”

We are available for consultation on a select basis. Our contact information appears on here on this blog site.

© 2016
Joseph W. Koletar



The Behavioral Forensics Group is a team of professionals with vast experience in detecting fraud, understanding why it occurs, and in recommending steps to mitigate fraud incidence within the corporate workplace, particularly within higher-level (and therefore more costly to the enterprise) executives.  The fields of investigation, organizational psychiatry, accounting and behavioral forensics, and law enforcement are represented within the Behavioral Forensics Group.  Acting in synergy to help organizations prevent, find, and/or reduce fraud, BFG is a premier, pioneering practice in this field.

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