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Motives for committing fraud
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Motives for committing fraud

In this step, we outline fraud factors and the different motivators driving fraud criminals.
© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0

Why do criminals commit fraud and what factors make it possible for them to do so? This section focuses on the psychology of fraud criminals.

What are fraud factors?

A fraud factor is an enabler to the risk of fraud. Fraud could be committed if all or some of the factors below exist.

  • The criminal’s motive(s)
  • Opportunities to commit fraud
  • Fraud criminals’ capabilities
  • Rationalisations for committing fraud

First, we’ll look at motives.


Motives are key antecedents to (causes of) fraud and can be seen as:

..the source of heat for the fire (Lister 2007)

"" © Georgeclerk / Getty Images

Fraud criminals could be motivated by:

  • Greed​
  • Financial need ​
  • The pathological desire for crime ​
  • The desire to beat the system – ‘catch me if you can’ attitude
  • Coercion (ie, people could be forced by their peers, family or superiors)​
  • Using funds to purchase criminal commodities ie, drugs or firearms
  • Ideology (ie, doing it for their idea of the ‘greater good’, such as the case of terrorist organisations)​


Lister, L.,M. (2007) ‘A Practical Approach to Fraud Risk: Comprehensive Risk Assessments Can Enable Auditors to Focus Antifraud Efforts on Areas Where Their Organization is Most Vulnerable’ Internal Auditor 64(6) 61-66

© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0
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