Ben Franklin – founding father, inventor, commercial fraud visionary?

Published: February 10, 2014 by Guest Contributor

By: Matt Sifferlen

On January 17th, we celebrated the 308th birthday of one of America’s most famous founding fathers, Ben Franklin. I’ve been a lifelong fan of his after reading his biography while in middle school, and each year when his birthday rolls around I’m inspired to research him a bit more since there is always something new to learn about his many meaningful contributions to this great nation.

I find Ben a true inspiration for his capacity for knowledge, investigation, innovation, and of course for his many witty and memorable quotes.  I think Ben would have been an exceptional blogger back in his day, raising the bar even higher for Seth Godin (one of my personal favorites) and other uber bloggers of today.  And as a product manager, I highly respect Ben’s lifelong devotion to improving society by finding practical solutions to complex problems.  Upon a closer examination of many of Ben’s quotes, I now feel that Ben was also a pioneer in providing useful lessons in commercial fraud prevention. Below is just a small sampling of what I mean.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” – Preventing commercial fraud before it happens is the key to saving your organization’s profits and reputation from harmful damage. If you’re focused on detecting fraud after the fact, you’ve already lost.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Despite the high costs associated with commercial fraud losses, many organizations don’t have a process in place to prevent it.  This is primarily due to the fact that commercial fraud happens at a much lower frequency than consumer fraud.  Are you one of those businesses that thinks “it’ll never happen to me?”

“When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.” – So you didn’t follow the advice of the first two quotes, and now you’re feeling the pain and embarrassment that accompanies commercial fraud.  Have you learned your lesson yet?

“After crosses and losses, men grow humbler and wiser.” Ah, no lender likes losses. Nothing like a little scar tissue from “bad deals” related to fraud to remind you of decisions and processes that need to be improved in order to avoid history repeating itself.

“Honesty is the best policy.” – Lots of businesses stumble on this part, failing to communicate when they’ve been compromised by fraud or failing to describe the true scope of the damage.  Be honest (quickly!) and set expectations about what you’re doing to limit the damage and prevent similar instances in the future.

“Life’s tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late.” – Being too late is a big concern when it comes to fraud prevention. It’s impossible to prevent 100% of all fraud, but that shouldn’t stop you from making sure that you have adequate preventive processes in place at your organization.

“Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today.” Get a plan together now to deal with fraud scenarios that your business might be exposed to.  Data breaches, online fraud and identity theft rates are higher than they’ve ever been.  Shame on those businesses that aren’t getting prepared now.

“Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” – I highly doubt Ben actually said this, but some Internet sites attribute it to him.  If you already follow all of his advice above, then maybe you can reward yourself with a nice pale ale of your choice!

So Ben can not only be considered the “First American,” but he can also be considered one of the first fraud prevention visionaries.  Guess we’ll need to add one more thing to his long list of accomplishments!