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Fraud Prevention Alert—Fraud Triangle Part 1: Opportunity


Throughout the last 25 years, our Office has issued numerous reports on fraud involving Arizona government employees from universities, community college districts, school districts, special taxing districts, counties, and state agencies. Understanding why and how employees commit fraud is crucial to preventing fraud from occurring. The fraud triangle summarizes three elements that are present when an individual commits fraud: opportunity, pressure, and rationalization. Public officials can help prevent fraud by diminishing any one of the triangle’s three elements and, ideally, taking steps to diminish all three elements. This alert, first in a three-part series, will focus on the opportunity element and outline how public officials can reduce dishonest employees’ opportunities to steal and increase their likelihood of getting caught by instituting appropriate internal controls and oversight and establishing a culture of accountability.