Friday, February 10, 2012

Cheating and Character

The most interesting thing about talking with Sam Antar isn't his story of committing fraud, or the way he evaded jail by helping catch other criminals, or the fact that he now spends his time teaching others about white-collar crime.  No, the most interesting thing is his belief that we can't stop people from committing these crimes by promoting better business ethics or even by a lot more regulation.  According to Antar, people like him will always find a way to cheat, and they do it because they can and in a way, almost because they have to.  He compares cheating in business to alcoholism and gambling addictions.  Business people don't cheat because they didn't have sufficient training in professional ethics.  They cheat because they're the kind of people who want to get away with something.

The key, Antar suggests, is training the rest of us to be more cautious in dealing with those who manage our money and in helping law enforcement agencies develop a better understanding of how people commit fraud so that they can get better at catching white-collar criminals.  I find that kind of discouraging.  And it's even more discouraging to hear Sam Antar suggest that the desire many of us feel to always expect the best out of other people and to prefer to assume that others mean well not harm is exactly what could make us good targets for the next cheater. 

No comments: