The world’s oldest profession? Fraudster.
I listened to a CPE class by Sam Antar last week (Crazy Eddie CFO and ex-CPA Sam Antar Shows You How He Cooked the Books). Great class, in case you are looking for 2 hours of CPE. (Cross posted from my other blog, Nonprofit Update.)
He suggested that unlike what has been said for a long time, prostitution is not the world’s oldest profession.
Instead, he suggested that committing fraud is the world’s oldest profession.
How can that be?
Go back to the garden of Eden. The serpent deceived Eve through a knowing misrepresentation of the truth in order to deceive her and take something from her. His intent was to harm her.
Definition of fraud
As I understand it, Black’s Law Dictionary defines fraud as a knowing misrepresentation of the truth or concealment.
The Free Dictionary gives the following explanation:
A false representation of a matter of fact—whether by words or by conduct, by false or misleading allegations, or by concealment of what should have been disclosed—that deceives and is intended to deceive another so that the individual will act upon it to her or his legal injury.
Fraud is commonly understood as dishonesty calculated for advantage. A person who is dishonest may be called a fraud.
The first fraud
From Genesis chapter 3, New International Version (used with permission):
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Without going into all the detail and implications, here are a few of the misrepresentations intended to deceive:
- God did not say don’t eat from any of the trees.
- Eating from the prohibited tree would in fact result in physical death. Spiritual death too.
- Eating from the tree would not make Eve “like God”, or somehow equal or comparable to Him.
- There is a partial truth in the comment that she would in fact know the difference between good and evil. Before eating the fruit she did not know anything about evil or sin. The partial truth is a deception.
The first fraudster and the world’s oldest profession
So, the serpent, who is Satan, also meets the definition of a fraudster. That’s in addition to being the Father of Lies, Prince of Darkness, and the deceiver of our souls. Since the story takes place in Genesis chapter 3, that means the only humans on the planet were Adam and Eve. That makes fraud the oldest profession.
Fine print to my explanation
I’m not going into all the other details of the Fall, such as, oh, the New Testament clearly blaming Adam for the fall. Or all the other implications of the fall. Or the ramifications of the well-earned follow-on curse. Or the widespread repercussions of their sin. Or the fabulous Solution to their and our sin problem.
So don’t get upset with me for what I didn’t explain.