A Parallel to Fraud?

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Testing of airport screeners, using images of guns and banned objects during the airport X-ray of bags, had some interesting results. When using a library of 250 images, the performance of the screeners (how often they detected the items) went up over time. When the image library was changed, performance dropped dramatically.

The new images were all still the same types of banned items, but they looked different. They were different types of guns, or knives pointing in different directions.

Experts in “visual search” explain that people are less likely to recognize an object when there are lots of distractors. They also say that we are less likely to recognize an item if it looks different than we’re expecting.

Take for example, looking for a can of beer in the refrigerator. You may miss the item, even though it is in front of your face, if it looks different than you’re expecting.

Could this be why auditors miss fraud? If the fraud doesn’t look like something they’ve seen before (in training or the real world), maybe they’re going to have trouble spotting it.

Article in the Wall Street Journal

Thanks, Gary Zeune for sending this on. Gary runs the world’s only speakers bureau for white collar criminals, The Pros and The Cons.

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