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As accountants how do we teach the young/new learners coming into our field the evils of unethical behavior? You would believe that the recent examples of Bernie Madoff and the Enron executives are the best cautionary tales to someone making the choice between fraud and honesty, but the reality is different. Most swindlers never consider themselves criminals and many perpetrators of fraudulent acts start small, as did Madoff, and justify their actions through rationalizations. Over time the deceit grows to a size that the criminal can no longer hide. Enron did not start out with the hundreds of Special Purpose Entities (SPE’s) they collapsed under; they began with one and grew. Scholars have dedicated vast amounts of time trying to answer my initial question. Colleges offer courses in business and accounting ethics in an attempt to keep new entrants into the white collar world ethical, yet the problem of business fraud continues to grow. Perhaps it is not the education that is failing,... read more

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