The final component needed to complete the fraud triangle is rationalization. This is the ability to persuade yourself that something you otherwise know is wrong is really OK. A lot of mental gymnastics are obviously needed to do so, but that is the point. If a person goes through those gymnastics, than what was wrong before is now acceptable. How can that happen?
One easy way for this to happen is the “borrowing” approach. I have a serious problem so I will just borrow this money until next payday. Then I’ll pay it back. Then on the next payday, the problem has not gone away, so the thought is: I’ll borrow a little bit more and pay it back for sure next month. All internal restraint has been removed.
Another approach is the entitlement mentality. I’ve worked so hard for this organization that I deserve a raise. That’s all this is – just a raise. Or, I am making a big sacrifice working at this salary because I could get another job at a much higher rate so I deserve a big raise. Even after this small raise I am still a bargain.
The atmosphere created by senior management can lend itself to rationalization: I know what the top bosses get away with, so the company will never miss this little amount.
The scary part here is rationalization takes place in the mind and cannot be seen. The entire shift in mind set could take place invisibly. It is possible this shift could manifest itself in comments or a change in attitude but not likely. The rationalization most likely will never be visible.