Texas Tech University

Finance and Accounting Students Learn "What Makes a Criminal...A Criminal"

Darla Vasquez

April 20, 2016

Landon Holly Rawls

Landon Holly, a Rawls College alumnus, recently visited with finance and accounting students to present his lecture "What Makes a Criminal...A Criminal." During his presentation, Holly detailed the reasons that internal financial crimes are often committed.

Holly believes that many "criminals" who commit fraud are often average people who experience one of three stimulants: perceived pressure, rationalization or opportunity. This notion is supported by Dr. Donald Cressey's fraud triangle theory, which lists these three factors as a main contributor to the high number of fraudulent crimes.

  1. Perceived pressure – Holly claims that many employees in the financial industry commit fraud because they are pressured by those around them. Often people feel like they will be punished or reprimanded if they do not do what is asked of them, even if it is an illegal act.
  2. Rationalization – many times employees commit a crime, not because they intend to, but because they have justified why it should be done in their minds. It is easier to believe you are doing the right thing, if you tell yourself it is for the benefit of the company.
  3. Opportunity – some people commit fraud because they see an easy opportunity, and they do not think they will be caught. Often times the crime does not seem as severe if you believe no one will notice it.

Ultimately, Holly says that many people who commit fraud are not criminals, just people who make poor decisions. His advice for those in the financial industry is to stay aware of your actions, do not give in to pressure if you feel something is not right and stay proactive. The goal of Holly's presentation was to make finance and accounting students aware of the potential hazards of the workplace and minimize the effects of perceived pressure, rationalization and opportunity.

To view more photos from Landon Holly's presentation, please visit the Rawls College's Flickr account.

This supports the efforts outlined in the Rawls College of Business Strategic Plan. Learn more about the LEADER 2020 Strategic Plan and follow our progress on Twitter at #RawlsLeads.