When I was researching my book about con artists, I encountered the chief financial officer of a large company who’d been arrested for fixing the books after a series of losses. He seemed like a nice, down-to-earth guy, like someone who was just caught in a bad situation. Yes, he fudged a few numbers to stay afloat—a bad choice, but not con artist-level bad.
Only the longer the case went on, the more that story changed. Once upon a time, this CFO had fudged the books, sure. But then he kept doing it. And the longer no one noticed, the more brazen the behavior became. He used the company plane for his family, the company accounts for personal expenses. And when he was caught, he lied about it all, trying to present it as something far more minor, more innocuous, more forgivable.