Criminology and the Psychology of Fraud (Online Self-Study)


Criminology and Psychology of Fraud

CPE Credit: 4
Course Level: Overview
Prerequisite: None


To effectively combat fraud, it’s important to understand the context in which it occurs and the environmental and personal factors that can contribute to its prevalence. Criminology theories offer crucial lessons on the factors that can lead to fraud and related crimes. Additionally, it’s important for fraud examiners to understand what might motivate perpetrators and how they might rationalize their behaviors.

This course will introduce you to the basics of criminology theories and examine how they relate to white-collar crime. Additionally, this course will discuss many of the psychological and environmental factors that can lead to fraud. A foundational knowledge of why and how fraud might occur is critical to both the detection and prevention of white-collar crime.

Key Takeaways:

Historical background of criminology

Psychological traits common to fraudsters

How workplace culture affects the occurrence of fraud

Why individuals choose to commit fraud

An understanding of the Fraud Triangle

This course fulfills the annual ethics CPE requirement for CFEs. To learn more about the ethics CPE requirement for CFEs, please visit

Preview Course

ACFE Ordering and Return Policy

Table of Contents:

Part I: Introduction to Criminology

Lesson 1: The Classical School

Lesson 2: Positivism

Lesson 3: Sociological Criminology

Part II: White-Collar Crime and Criminology

Lesson 4: Other Aspects of Criminology

Lesson 5: White-Collar Crime Versus Street Crime

Lesson 6: The Costs of White-Collar Crime

Lesson 7: The Fraud Triangle

Lesson 8: Other Theories of Causation

Part III: Organizational Structure and Fraud

Lesson 9: Organizational Climate

Lesson 10: The Normalization of Corruption

Lesson 11: Obedience to Authority

Part IV: Individuals and Fraud

Lesson 12: Motivation

Lesson 12: Testimony

Lesson 13: Strain Theory and Pressure

Lesson 14: Rationalization and Neutralization

Lesson 15: Weak Restraints and Opportunity

Lesson 16: Deception

Lesson 17: Psychopathy and Sociopathy

Lesson 18: Conclusion

CPE Information:

You Will Learn How To:

Compare various criminological theories and their varying explanations of crime causation

Identify how criminological theories explain and predict white-collar crime

Recognize how organizational structure and climate can contribute to fraudulent behavior

Identify the unique aspects that distinguish fraud from other types of crime

Identify the weak psychological, organizational and societal restraints that make fraud more likely to occur

Recognize common psychological traits of fraudsters

Field of Study: Specialized Knowledge

Last updated: April 2017

ACFE online self-study courses feature:

24/7 access to courses through your Internet browser
Save time and quickly earn CPE credits with instant access, grading and printable certificate
The flexibility to start or stop a course and pick-up right where you left off
No additional shipping fees

Learn more about accessing your online self-study course.

Learn more about online self-study courses and their features.

System requirements:

Internet access: High-speed connection recommended

Free Adobe Flash Player

Speakers required for video sound

Online Self-Study Troubleshooting Guide:

Problem: When I attempt to access my courses from “My Online Learning,” the course never launches, or I receive an error message saying my pop-up blocker needs to be turned off.

Solution: Your web browser must be configured to allow pop-ups in order to access ACFE Self-Study courses. Your browser may prompt you to allow pop-ups, or you may have to allow them manually. You may either allow them for all sites, or allow them just for the current site.

For information on how to manage your pop-up blocker settings in a specific browser, click the link below that corresponds to the browser you are using:

Internet Explorer
Google Chrome

Also note that many toolbars, such as the Google Toolbar and Yahoo! include pop-up blockers as well. If you have one or more toolbars installed on your browser with built-in pop-up blockers, you must configure them to allow pop-ups.

Problem: When I click on a course from “My Online Learning,” I am presented with a login page, but my username and password won’t allow me to log in.

Solution: You do not have to log in a second time to access your online self-study. You most likely reached the login page because you clicked the link labeled “Click Here” as shown below:

Online SS Image Absorb Error

Do not click that link; instead, allow your browser to automatically open the eLearning window on its own, which should happen after a few seconds. This will log you in automatically so that you can access your online courses.

Problem: I receive the following error when I try to load a different lesson with a course:

SS Online API Error

Solution: This occurs in Internet Explorer when trying to load a different lesson without closing the current lesson. This error can be avoided two different ways:

Always close the current lesson before going to another one. Always click the Close Window button (usually the red “X” in the upper right corner) of the current lesson before clicking on another lesson.

Use a different browser. This error seems to only occur in Internet Explorer, so using Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome should resolve the issue (see below for links to download either of these browsers).

Other Troubleshooting Tips: If you encounter other errors, such as courses freezing or crashing, we recommend taking the following action:

Try a different browser. ACFE online self-study courses are designed to run on all modern web browsers, but if you encounter a problem that is not solved using one of the suggestions above, you can try using a different web browser to see if it eliminates the problem. We have most frequently seen where using Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome has resolved an issue that was seen in Internet Explorer.

Mozilla Firefox can be downloaded here
Google Chrome can be downloaded here

Make sure you are running the latest version of Flash. Go to to see what version of Flash you are running, and then compare that to the table on that page to see what the latest version is for your operating system/browser combination. If you are not running the newest version, you should upgrade and see if that resolves the problem.