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Weasels at Work: What Do They Look Like?

By Chrissie A. Powers, CPA/CFF, CFE, CVA

A fraudster (aka a Weasel) uses their occupation for unjust personal enrichment through the deliberate misuse or misapplication of the employing organization's resources or assets. I am often asked about the typical fraudster's demographics and characteristics. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners ("ACFE") has been collecting this data over the last ten years.1

Gender and Position

In the most recent study, 2/3rd of all fraud cases reported that the fraudster's gender was male. The male fraudster generally causes losses that are more than twice as high as the losses caused by female fraudsters. This disparity between the genders isn't based on the males occupying higher levels of authority than females. The male fraudster caused higher losses at every position level. A male Owner/Executive had a median loss of $699,000. See graph below.

chart: Median Loss Based on Gender & Position

12012 Global Fraud Study – Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse.


The average age of a fraudster is between 36 to 45 years old. The fraud loss tends to increase with the age of the fraudster. The average loss of $600,000 is for fraudsters between the ages of 51 to 55. A lose of this magnitude for a small business could be devastating.

chart: Age of Fraudster - Median Loss


The fraudster's tenure has a direct relation with the loss as well. The longer a fraudster has worked for the organization, the greater the trust, which means less scrutiny over their actions and position. The fraudster has gained a better understanding of the internal controls, allowing them greater success in committing their fraudulent scheme. Therefore, the fraudster is able to execute their scheme causing a greater loss.

Tenure of Fraudster Median Loss
Less than one year $25,000
One to five years $100,000
Six to ten years $200,00
More than ten years $229,000

Behavioral Traits

The average fraud scheme lasts 24 months before being discovered. Often times, the fraudster displays behavioral traits connected with the stress of being discovered that are red flags. Here are just a few of the top behavioral red flags of fraudsters:

  • Living Beyond Their Means
  • Financial Difficulties
  • Unusually Close Relationship with Vendors/Customers
  • Control Issues, Unwillingness to Share Duties
  • Drugs, Gambling, Mistress
  • Refuses to Take Vacation

The clever weasel is a long, slender animal with beady eyes that is known for being sly and deceptively misleading. Consider these characteristics to evaluate your office colleagues. Do you believe you have a weasel at your office? If you suspect a weasel or would like to discuss your fraud concerns, don't hesitate to contact us at 614-745-5192.

Chrissie A. Powers, CPA/CFF, CFE, CVA

Chrissie A. Powers, CPA/CFF, CFE, CVA

Powers Forensic Accounting, LLC

421 West State Street, Suite 216
Columbus, OH 43215


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