Attestation Update – A&A for CPAs

Technical stuff for CPAs providing attestation services

Cheating on your Fitbit? After you stop laughing, think about this from the fraud perspective.

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One option to get superb results on your exercise tracker. Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock.

One option to create superb results on your exercise tracker. Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Sometimes you just have to laugh.

On June 9, The Wall Street Journal asked Want to Cheat Your Fitbit? Try a Puppy or a Power Drill.

Those informal office challenges to get people to exercise often involve using a Fitbit device to track how far participants walk or run.

Apparently a few folks have decided to take some shortcuts.

One fellow attached his tracker to the blade of an electric saw. After leaving it run overnight he had recorded 57,000 steps the next morning.

A 5’ 10” person takes a step of about 2’ 11”. That mean he ‘walked’ 166,250 feet, or 31.5 miles overnight.

Another fellow attached his tracker to a hamster wheel while another guy used a ceiling fan.

Another scheme, apparently used frequently, is to clip your tracking device to your dog and let Fido run around all day. I am guessing a puppy would get you lots more miles than a mature dog.

Hint to wannabe cheaters: don’t clip your tracking device to an indoor cat.

After you finish laughing…

Done with the chuckles? Okay. Now put on your accountant hat.

Consider this in terms of the fraud triangle. Then shudder.

The motivation to cheat is to win an award.

Not a bunch of money. Not a promotion. Not good financial results for the quarter. Not keep your job. Not gambling another weekend.

An award.

Bragging rights are apparently sufficient to get some people to cheat. That is a really low threshold.

Think of the motivational power of booze, drugs, gambling, medical bills, fear of loosing your job, or a boy toy.

Now consider opportunity.

Some competition systems allow you to write in your own results. Ponder the opportunity that creates. Article says one person wrote in 31 miles of walking each day for 42 consecutive days.

Even a competition based on the recorded results on a tracking device provides massive opportunity to cheat. Merely attaching it to a rotary saw, ceiling fan, hamster wheel, or young puppy creates big results that will catapult you to first place.

I would not have thought about those techniques. A few moments of pondering gives a few more which will give believable results: loan the tracker to your significant other or child who is a long-distance runner. Attach it to your ankle when you go for a short bike ride and claim it was running. Code a walk as if it was a run. If you wanted a mile with a minute of effort, consider a power drill.

You have to admire the creativity of the human mind in developing clever new ways to cheat. That is called opportunity.

Article does not discuss the rationalization side of the fraud triangle but you can almost hear the comments.

It’s not a big deal.

Isn’t hurting anyone.

Didn’t have any idea you’d have a problem with it.

I didn’t want to be embarrassed by showing no effort. The boss thinks this is important.

It is just a bit unsettling to think through cheating on an office exercise challenge in terms of fraud triangle, but still helpful to understand human attitudes.

Written by Jim Ulvog

June 15, 2016, 8:07 am at 8:07 am

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