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

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

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 some of the psychological traits that are common to fraudsters





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

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 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.