The key to a successful financial fraud: Believability


Ask any white collar criminal (past or present) and they will likely tell you that one of the main factors in getting away with their crimes (at least for a while) was the believability factor. Above all else, those in the position to be ripped off had to believe in the white collar criminal.

So it goes without saying that Charles Ray Fuller may not have much of a future in white collar crime. This 21-year-old went into a Texas bank a couple of weeks ago and tried to cash a fraudulent check. He was doing well. He walked into the bank. He smiled. He presented the check.

And the bank teller immediately doubted his honesty. The reason? A little detail such as the fact that the check was made out for $360 billion dollars. Yes, with a "b." You see, banks don't typically have people waltz in off the street and try to cash checks for hundreds of billions of dollars. Sure enough, the check was made out to someone other than Mr. Fuller, and was not authorized by the holder of the checking account.

So Mr. Fuller failed White Collar Crime 101 by not being even a little bit close to believable. Even better? At the time he was committing this little crime, he was (allegedly) carrying both a gun and marijuana. I think even the street crimes experts would be ashamed of him for this one.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.