ISSN 2389-8186
E-ISSN 2389-8194
Vol. 8, No. 2
Julio-diciembre de 2021
pp. 7-21
* PhD Entrepreneurial Sciences. Instituto Superior de Contabilidade e Administração, Porto, Portugal. E-mail:
ORCID: 0000-0003-0860-1102. Google Scholar:
Risks and fraud: A theoretical approach
ISSN 2389-8186
E-ISSN 2389-8194
Vol. 8, No. 2
Julio-diciembre de 2021
How to cite this article:
de Sena, A. (2021). Risks and
fraud: A theoretical approach.
Revista Perspectiva Empresarial,
8(2), 7-21.
Recibido: 29 de abril de 2021
Aceptado: 20 de agosto de 2021
ABSTRACT Objective. To explain fraud occurrence —under three theoretical models— and
apply it to the organization’s hierarchy. Methodology. Based on the IIA risk outlook for 2021,
an exploratory theoretical scope of analysis was constructed. Risks were considered under
the umbrella of three fraud theories: Triangle of Cressey; Diamond of Wolfe and Hermanson;
and Pentagon of Crowe. Results. Fraud occurrence may be explained by the perpetrator’s
position across the hierarchical organization chart: where it is stressed that arrogance from
the Pentagon ts the top management position; competence from the Diamond ts the middle
management; and need, opportunity and pressure from the Triangle t mainly the lower
management. Conclusions. Fraud was considered under three main models, concluding
that it may be explained through dierent worker motivations related to their management
position in the company.
KEY WORDS Risks, fraud triangle, fraud diamond, fraud pentagon, management level.
Riesgos y fraude: una aproximación teórica
RESUMEN Objetivo. Explicar la ocurrencia del fraude —bajo tres modelos teóricos— y
aplicarlo a la jerarquía de la organización. Metodología. A partir de la perspectiva de riesgos
de la IIA para 2021 se construyó un ámbito de análisis teórico exploratorio. Los riesgos se
consideraron bajo el paraguas de tres teorías del fraude: triángulo de Cressey; diamante
de Wolfe y Hermanson y pentágono de Crowe. Resultados. La ocurrencia del fraude puede
explicarse a través de la posición del perpetrador a lo largo del organigrama jerárquico:
destacando que la arrogancia del pentágono se ajusta a la posición de la alta dirección; la
competencia del diamante se ajusta a los mandos intermedios y la necesidad, la oportunidad
y la presión del triángulo se ajustan principalmente a los mandos bajos. Conclusiones. El
fraude fue considerado bajo tres modelos principales, concluyendo que puede ser explicado
a través de diferentes motivaciones de los trabajadores relacionadas con su posición de
gestión en la empresa.
PALABRAS CLAVE riesgos, triángulo del fraude, diamante del fraude, pentágono del fraude,
nivel directivo.
Revista Perspectiva Empresarial, Vol. 8, No. 2, julio-diciembre de 2021, 7-21
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Riscos e fraude: uma abordagem teórica
RESUMO Objetivo. Explicar a ocorrência de fraude —sob três modelos teóricos— e
aplicá-la à hierarquia da organização. Metodologia. Com base na perspectiva de
risco do AII de 2021, foi construído um âmbito teórico exploratório de análise. Os
riscos foram considerados sob o guarda-chuva de três teorias de fraude: o triângulo
de Cressey; o diamante de Wolfe e Hermanson; e o pentágono de Crowe. Resultados.
A ocorrência de fraude pode ser explicada através da posição do perpetrador ao
longo do organograma hierárquico: destacando que a arrogância do pentágono se
enquadra na posição de gestão de topo; a competência do diamante se enquadra na
gestão intermédia e a necessidade, oportunidade e pressão do triângulo se enquadra
principalmente na gestão inferior. Conclusões. A fraude foi considerada sob três
modelos principais, concluindo que ela pode ser explicada através de diferentes
motivações dos funcionários relacionadas à sua posição de gestão na empresa.
PALAVRAS CHAVE riscos, triângulo da fraude, diamante da fraude, pentágono da
fraude, nível de gestão.
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Considering the pandemic time, we are
living in (which started in March 2019) and on a
risk management perspective associated to the
theoretical scope of analysis of fraud, this study is
going to be based on the forecasts disseminated by
the Institute of Internal Auditors —IIA— through
the document OnRisk 2021, recently issued. This
document names the main risks the organizations
will be facing in the near future. As it is well known,
when risks are not duly and properly considered
frauds may emerge. It is an aim of this paper, under
a perspective of a theoretical review, to describe
and place these risks under the umbrella of the
respective studies: triangle of fraud (Cressey, 1953),
the diamond fraud (Wolfe and Hermanson, 2004)
or the pentagon fraud (Crowe, 2011).
To do so, this study will be organized as follows:
document published by IIA, OnRisk 2021. Secondly
the description of the abovementioned risk theories
will be considered and at last a match between
the possible frauds and the respective theoretical
approach will be done. To summarize it a brief
conclusion will be displayed.
Some expected Risks for 2021
The IIA, in 2020, published OnRisk 2021: A Guide to
Understanding, Aligning, and Optimizing Risk, which for
boards, management, and chief audit executives (CAEs)
—the three key players in risk management—. Through
a series of interviews with members of all three groups,
along with a survey of CAEs, OnRisk 2021 offered a unique
and insightful examination of the interactions and views
of those who most directly affect risk management.
OnRisk 2021 adds key players’ views on organizational
risk relevance as a factor in measuring alignment.
Observations of this year improved the alignment on
key risk knowledge and capability and some potential
misalignment on how relevant some risks are viewed.
  
factor for them. A response to the pandemic contributed
to an improved alignment among risk management
players on business continuity, risk management,
and communications. The pandemic also exposed
the strengths and weaknesses of how organizations
manage disruption. It was needed to change to adapt to
by the acceleration of technology’s positive and negative
effects on cybersecurity, talent management, economic
and political volatility and disruptive innovation.
The IIA list of major risks to be faced by
organizations in the near future (Table 1) does not
excluded from this analysis may have particular relevance
    
Table 1. Description of IIA risks
Risks This Risk Considers
1. Cybersecurity Whether organizations are suciently prepared to manage cyber threats
that could cause disruption and reputational harm
2. Third Party Organizations’ abilities to select and monitor third-party relationships
3. Board Information Whether boards feel condent that they are receiving complete, timely,
transparent, accurate, and relevant information
4. Sustainability Organizations’ abilities to establish strategies to address long-term
sustainability issues
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Risks This Risk Considers
5. Disruptive Innovation Whether organizations are prepared to adapt to and/or capitalize on
6. Economic and Political Volatility The challenges and uncertainties organizations face in a dynamic and
potentially volatile economic and political environment
7. Organizational Governance Whether organizations’ governance assists or hinders achievement of
8. Data Governance Organizations’ overall strategic management of data: its collection, use,
storage, security, and disposition
9. Talent Management Challenges organizations face in identifying, acquiring, upskilling, and
retaining the right talent to achieve their objectives
10. Culture Whether organizations understand, monitor, and manage the tone,
incentives, and actions that drive the desired behavior
11. Business Continuity and Crisis Management Organizations’ abilities to prepare, react, respond, and recover
Source: author own elaboration.
Consequent to the pandemic time we are living,
since March 2020, all the possible work has been
done from home. This leads us to think a little
about the security of the Internet use as to the
information received, produced and disseminated.
So in a comprehensive analysis we might associate
risks number (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) as to cybersecurity. With
this arrangement of issues one aims to get security
about the access used in communication, naming
cybersecurity (Risk 1) as a main issue.
Presently the organizations current life is
conducted through Internet applications like
Teams, Zoom, Mobile Apps among others. To control
third party services one must contact them using
these ways either for consulting, for transportation,
for accounting, or just for cleaning services (Risk
2). The information 
that is constructed within the companies depends
deeply on the data, got on line, from the different
and may enable an accurate information about
the company (Risk 3). It is important to utilize
the data analysis skills that are proper: the power
an analysis of journal entries for potential red
some other techniques (data mining) can be used
statements 
sustainability of the organization because it deals
investors but also in the worker motivation and
in the contribution to the objectives of the around
the day after of this pandemic but even in between,
companies must reinvent themselves and do a kind
of reengineering to face the future and this is being
disruptive — breaking some mores in order to reach
some solutions and being able to innovate (Risk 5).
All these risks to be minimized must be safeguarded
by cybersecurity.
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Table 2. Main risks associated to Cybersecurity
Main Risk Consequent Risks
1. Cybersecurity
Organizations should be prepared to manage cyber threats that can cause
disruption and reputational harm
2. Third Party
3. Boards Information
4. Sustainability
5. Disruptive Innovation
Source: author own elaboration.
Looking at Table 1 we can see that risk 6 is
related to the market so we could name it as an
external risk. The economic and political volatility
are dimensions that cannot be managed by the
organizations. Yet they must be duly considered
in their current operational work and it is looking
at them that the companies must reconsider the
the new and unexpected realities.
Table 3. External Risks
Kind of Risk Consequent Risks
External risks 6. Economic and political volatility
Source: author own elaboration.
All these dynamic and changing variables
affect the organization world and they must
be sure about the data they receive and the
information thereof processed (Risk 8). And in
the organizations management process in order
to get things right we need the right people in the
right place and the most talented ones represent
a risk for the companies once they can leave them
easily. So a different management of the talents is
needed (Risk 9). And this is related to the culture
of the organization which translates the mission,
values and beliefs of the company (Risk 10), and
it is in crisis time that these assumptions can be
tested. If the organizations do not pay attention
to all the above mentioned risks independently of
their origin they will have serious problems as to
the business continuity and some bankruptcies
may happen (Risk 11).
Table 4. Internal Risks
Kind of Risk Consequent Risks
Internal risks
7. Organizational governance
9. Talent management
10. Culture
11. Business continuity and crisis
Source: author own elaboration.
So, in brief, and from the analysis of Table 1 one
could get all the risks there explained in a simple
table like (Table 5).
Table 5. Cybersecurity as an umbrella risk
Main risk Other risks
Information, Third Party,
Management, Sustainability,
Economic and Political
Governance, Talent,
Culture, Going Concern
Source: author own elaboration.
At last we can say that Cybersecurity is a great
risk to the organizations all around the world.
One could say that this is a global issue. And this
issue is related and embedded in the internal
or external risks as to the organizations. These
risks are external because they are related to the
global economy and to the policy of each country
and are internal when they concern the life of the
organizations in terms of culture and governance,
talents in their management and continuity of the
business activity. Let us consider now the existence
of these risks and the possibility of becoming frauds.
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SAS 991 describes three conditions typically
present when fraud is committed: incentives/
pressures, opportunities, and attitudes/
rationalizations (these are reminiscent of the
      
under pressure or has an incentive to commit the
fraudulent act. Second, opportunities probably exist
the perpetrator is likely able to rationalize his or
her fraudulent act or possesses an attitude that the
act was acceptable. There is a direct relationship
between the existence of the three conditions and
the likelihood of the occurrence of fraud.
The great difference between a fraud and
an error is the predisposition for acting under a
suspicious way. We fail or we do mistakes or we
do errors because we are human and we can miss
some event without having this previous idea. Yet,
when we predict, when we estimate and design a
failure with a goal that usually becomes a value
elements: words, laws, best practice guides, risk
regulatory judgments and many more — have a
trajectory of formation. This trajectory begins
with auditing and expands into risk management,
management emerges as a highly articulated,
transnational web of ideas and procedures which
frame the future within present organizational
actions, and which intensify the responsibility of
when the internal control of the companies is
weak, for instance when the invoicing department
is leaded by someone that is responsible at the
same time for the cash/treasure department as
guaranteed dividends. These are events can occur
1 SAS 99, is an auditing statement issued by the Auditing Standards Board of the American Institute of Certied Public Accountants
—AICPA— in October 2002. The original exposure dra was distributed in February 2002. SAS 99, which supersedes SAS 82, was
issued partly in response to contemporary accounting scandals at Enron, WorldCom, Adelphia, and Tyco. SAS 99 became eective
for audits of nancial statements for periods beginning on or aer December 15, 2002.
in any company, for instance along the leaf time
when the personnel are on vacation leave and
the same time that can be matched together and
opportunities are present we just need a plan to
do it (pressure/motivation).
Hall (2011) defines fraud as anything that
denotes a false representation of a material
fact with the formal intention of deceiving and
inducing the other party to deeply rely on the fact.
According to general Common Law, a fraudulent
act must meet the following five conditions: (i)
— a fact must be a substantial factor in inducing
the intent to deceive or the knowledge that one
misrepresentation must have been a substantial
Injury loss — the deception must have caused
injury or loss to the victim of the fraud.
In the business environment, fraud is an
intentional deception, misappropriation of a
data in order to get advantage of the perpetrator
(Hall, 2011). Usually when speaking of accounting
collar crime, defalcation and irregularities dealing
As to some relevant economic sectors, besides
particularly in the food retail distribution, Spink
to implement an effective risk management plan
in order to prevent fraud. In this sense, Spink et al.
government statement focused on prevention (e.g.,
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 
prevention/detection in any kind of organization
the auditors along the development of their work
     
speaking about the auditor’s work in a company,
fraud may be found at two different levels: on behalf
of the employee or on the management (Hall, 2011).
when the internal control procedures inside in their
operation process are not quite well implemented
and workers know better than anyone how to take
advantage of it.
the effects of reducing opportunity and fraud risk
institutions. They referred that usually fraud occurs
on behalf of the people that work day by day on
deep knowledge of the connected whole process.
This is the ideal for committing a fraud — to know
the holes and limits of the process. When we speak
about the top management one must say that fraud
is usually related to the absence of ethics. Boyle,
impact of the fraud model used and its relation with
the auditor’s judgements. As we will see along this
article different fraud models can be considered
and their context is related to the structure and
environment of the organization.
In order to understand and explain fraud, in this
paper, the three most cited models from literature
are going to be considered — triangle, diamond,
Triangle Model
of explaining the elements that cause fraud. This
theory is presented by Cressey in 1953 but one
must stress that it still keeps applicable. The fraud
triangle elements consist of pressure, opportunity,
and rationalization.
Figure 1. Fraud Triangle Model. Source: https://commons.
All these elements combined try to explain
fraud occurrence. The pressure may mean the need
that someone has, or feels that has, or is obliged to
do something on a particular situation of life that
many times hides any common sense. This situation
is revealed as an opportunity to do an event that
arises when the author thinks realizes some good
advantages of it and thus, it will be worth doing and
this is the rationalization or the design of the fraud
to be committed.
Diamond Model
Yet in some situations the combination of these
factors may explain the fraud but other times some
capability to do it is important as well. If one looks at
21st century like Enron, Parmalat and WorldCom, it
is clear that people who created them, besides the
pressure, the opportunity and the rationalization
they had the capability to do it (Abdullahi and
Mansor, 2015). They understood the business
process quite well and knew easily what they could
do in deception. As to this interpretation we could
associate the diamond model presenting this new
characteristic — the capability.
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Figure 2. The diamond model. Source: https://chapters.
Yet, we must be very careful when making
generalizations because the frauds depend on
authors like Zaini, Carolina and Setiawan (2015)
found different results but as to the academic
environment: they showed that pressure, on a
effect on academic fraud behavior enabling the
triangle model.
   
rationalization, pressure or incentive and capability)
do not explain it. According to Wolfe and Hermanson
(2004), it is impossible for deception or fraud to
occur if no one has the right capability to perpetrate
the deception or fraud. The said capability is an
individual quality to commit deception, which
of it. Yet one must argue that it depends on the type
of activity we are considering the fraud: triangle
model may be adequate for the analysis of student’s
fraud but the administrative staff of a University
need already some capability or competence to do
a fraud — arising the diamond model.
Pentagon Model
(2011) who added the arrogance dimension to the
acts of cheating due to pressure, opportunity,
rationalization, competence and arrogance.
Arrogance is an attitude of superiority as to the
rights or pertained position from an individual
who feels that he/she is beyond any control or
institutional policy of the company. Arrogance is
of pride due to his/her position. If someone has a
high arrogance and a good company’s position, then
he will be more likely to commit fraud.
Figure 3. Fraud pentagon theory. Source: https://www.gure/Fraud-pentagon-theory_
the arrogance factor. It seems that to do a fraud
some competence and arrogance associated are
needed. Competence because it is necessary to
understand quite well and know the process of
the business where the fraud is going to occur
in order to determine the weakest points of its
controls. The arrogance usually can be found in
the high level of hierarchy —top management
people— that pretend to be unquestionable and
this way feel at ease to perpetrate the fraud. Crowe
attributes (opportunity, pressure, rationalization,
arrogance and competence) that may frame a fraud
event. Taking again the above mentioned example
of the Big American frauds, for instance we might
still argue that perhaps these elements were
present — the arrogance of the top management
and the competence of the auditors both very much
associated with a big lack of ethics. They were
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simulation but moreover they may be explained by
the arrogance and competence associated which
imply the Pentagon Model.
So as far as literature goes we cannot say for
are too many variables that together can explain
a fraud according to its type and nature and to a
particular theoretical approach.
The goal addressed at the beginning of this
paper was to match these fraud theories to some of
the risks that the organizations may face in the near
future. Perhaps according to some authors some
use of data mining techniques could help to prevent
into account the big data fraud risk management
process that some group companies like Alibaba
have pursued as to fraud (Chen et al., 2015). It is
quite interesting to see what the companies use
in order to face fraud with the aim of avoiding or
minimizing it. The next issue will consider fraud
and associate it to the before named risks.
Expected Risks and Fraud
Computers have done incredible things for
our lives and will increasingly continue to do so,
however we must also learn to protect ourselves.
We need not guard against the technology itself,
but rather those who wish to pervert it for personal
gain or others’ pain. Under the threat of global
terrorism and organized crime we must come
to understand that cyberspace is truly a digital
    
when critical infrastructure is directly affected.
We must not forget to stay vigilant and we must
major challenges associated with cyberspace is
the lack of national boundaries, enforceable rules/
treaties, and internationally recognized regulatory
committees (Chayes, 2015).
Criminals and adversaries are able to cross
space and time anonymously and with complete
disregard for geopolitical boundaries, making
active cyber defense problematic. International
      
an acceptable use of force, however it becomes
tricky when attacking an enemy’s system which
technically violates another nation’s sovereignty
To add another layer of complexity, attackers
through thousands of nodes, making it virtually
impossible to identify the originating system
with absolute certainty and requiring defenders
Subsequently, to deter an attacker a government
entity may need to relay malicious network activity
across uninvolved nations’ telecommunications
networks and noncombatant systems, creating a
legal quagmire (Hathaway et al., 2012).
The security on the information produced and
got/sent/in stock through Internet is something
crucial at present. If the organizations/institutions
are named, we are just referring all the types
of information given and received to all the
stakeholders — internal and external. The risks
associated have already been before mentioned
and frauds may occur due to — opportunity,
pressure, rationalization, arrogance, easy access
and competence and many other variables like
the ethics (or its absence). At this point we could
create a fraud model heptagon that follows the
pentagon created by Crowe (2011) and just adds
the attribute “easy access” or “absence of ethics”
because computers are a kind of asset that is quite
easy to get and presently is something basic for
committing a fraud and if ethics is not embedded
in the agent, if it does not make part of the behavior
Citing Gengler (1999), and as to frauds related to
recent cyber issues we can name some from the end
of 20th
reported that corporations, banks and government
agencies all face a growing threat from computer
crime committed both inside and outside the
losses due to computer security breaches mounted
to more than $ 100 million. And for the third year in
a row, system penetration by outsiders increased
and 30 % of respondents reported intrusion. Those
reporting their Internet connection as a frequent
1999. This was around the end of last century!
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it is said: the current consensus is that there is a
worldwide gap in skills needed for a competent
cybersecurity workforce. This skills gap has
implications in the national security sector, both
public and private. Although the view is that
this will take a concerted effort to recover it, it
presents an opportunity for IT professionals,
university students, and aspirants to take jobs in
national security — national intelligence as well
as military and law enforcement intelligence. As
to the emerging employment trends, some of the
employment challenges and what these might
mean in practice, these are good issues to be
considered. In order to close the cyber skill gap
by taking advantage of this window of opportunity,
one must allow individuals interested in moving
and training.
   
immersive environments where participants
interact with others while engaging in social,
entertainment, and economic endeavors. To
illustrate how virtual worlds can be used to study
virtual world fraud cases using the “fraud diamond”
model (Wolfe and Hermanson, 2004) and their
causes and prevention of fraud. They include: (i)
perpetrator motivations often lead to nonmonetary
and overestimate the capability of fraud prevention
as a laboratory for evaluating risk management
strategies. This research illustrates how parallels
between fraudulent behaviors in virtual and real
worlds can advance our understanding of fraud
Cyber fraud must be executed by people with
very special technical informatics skills. Thus, in
order to explain them it seems adequate to place
this issue under the diamond fraud model once
the main attributes associated are: the pressure/
motivation, the opportunity, the rationalization
and mainly the competence or technical skills —
capability— needed to do it. This is a situation that
may happen in the external and internal market, in
other words, this is a global phenomenon that can
affect any type of business, either public or private,
in any country.
According to the document of IIA (OnRisk 2021)
we can register risks as to the board information
and sustainability. As to reasons that can explain
their occurrence one might argue that either the
theoretical approach of the diamond or pentagon
fraud might explain it. This is so because both
theories state that the pressure/motivation, the
opportunity, the rationalization and the capability
or the competence can explain fraud event. Yet
sometimes the arrogance (in the pentagon theory)
is used by people to achieve the frauds with some
property as if they could be assigned to do so and no
one could question them for doing it. We can give as
examples the situation when the top management
is involved in the fraud engineering and its safe
and “clean” power position is openly assumed and
exhibited towards the hierarchy.
be prepared to face: it seems that due to market
conditions or to some restraints of different nature
like the pandemic ones we are suffering presently
many organizations must have the capability
to change their mission and start again with a
new product or service, or else they will go in a
Other Risks
The economic situation of the country is a
consequence of the global political and economic
status either imported from EU, Asia or USA.
Countries that are rich and have money can get
resources in a better quality and price, in better
conditions, and can face risks in a different way. We
might consider all these risks as having an external
environment of the country and particularly in the
life of the organizations. This way, internally in
the organization, issues like the governance, the
talent safeguard, the culture and the continuity of
the company or the “going concern” idea, will be
the issues to be considered as risks. Any of these
risks can be inserted under the theoretical frame
of a triangle, a diamond or a pentagon fraud. Their
happening and positioning will have to do with the
step where they stand within the organization.
Revista Perspectiva Empresarial, Vol. 8, No. 2, julio-diciembre de 2021, 7-21
ISSN 2389-8186, E-ISSN 2389-8194
Triangle frauds will happen most probably at
they depend on the opportunity, the rationalization
and the pressure/motivation. We mention the
      
something valuable — it is like getting basic Internet
Figure 4. Maslow’s Hierarchy for internet and the era of IoT. Source:
But when we can get this Internet around the
world when we know how to use it —Internet
throughout the home— it seems that we have
some capability to do it so the diamond fraud can be
applied — we have the motivation, the opportunity,
the rationalization of the event and the capability.
If we climb up one or two levels more in the
       
management area that should inspire transparency
of connectivity.
At both points of the hierarchy we may explain
the occurrence of fraud under a pentagon model.
This model accrues the attribute arrogance as a kind
of defense of the perpetrator because he/she is a
kind of people who have power and are arrogant
enough in order to disguise the fraud they know
they have done or are to be doing. At this time the
capability element of the diamond model is replaced
by the competence one.
At last and coming back to OnRisk 2021, risks
as to governance, as to talent safeguard or as to
of the fraud perpetrators: these can be explained
through the pentagon, the diamond or the triangle
fraud models.
Besides and when frauds happen in the
organizations they can compromise their “going
concern” principle.
In this study after considering the different risks,
named by IIA forecasts for 2021, their possibility
of becoming or enabling frauds were considered.
The situations related to these risks may be
explain the existence of fraud we tried to identify the
place where it can happen across any organization