All Investigations Lead to… Porn?

It all started with a joke…

All investigations seem to lead to pornography,” quipped Ryan Hubbs, a senior manager for Matson, Driscoll & Damico, Forensic Accountants, chatting with a group of colleagues at an ACFE conference a few years ago.

Hubbs had spotted an odd pattern. Time after time, as he investigated claims of contractor fraud or embezzlement, he’d uncover a little something on the side, such as additional accusations of bullying or harassment or, most frequently, pornography downloaded onto an accused employee’s computer.

His joke struck a nerve. “We started talking about it,” he recalls, “and everybody else said, ‘You know, I’ve had some cases where after we did the forensic analysis, we found the guy was also investigated for sexual harassment.’” That’s when Hubbs started to wonder whether what he was seeing was mere coincidence, or correlation.

“The correlation is somewhere between zero and a hundred percent,” Hubbs jokes, admitting that he’s no social scientist. Plenty of people, he contends, have glanced at a sexy photo or two online without ever going on to commit fraud. He’s reluctant to draw any absolute conclusions about correlation or causality.

But as a professional fraud examiner, he is a keen observer of human behavior. And in his fascinating lecture at the San Diego ACFE conference in June, he shared those observations and posed a question to fellow investigators: What if we could search out fraudsters by zeroing in on employees who download porn or have been reported for bullying or harassing co-workers? Is there a strong enough correlation between outright fraud and other “deviant” behaviors to use those behaviors as markers?

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