Career Opportunities

The High-Tech Career Handbook

A weekly ComputorEdge Column by Douglas E. Welch

Rise above it all

May 17, 2002

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Fraud is everywhere, from the city streets to the corporate boardroom. Lately we seem to be swimming in an ocean of fraud. Worse yet, some of us in the high-tech world are aiding and abetting it, if not committing fraud outright ourselves. Any career is built on developing a level of trust with your clients. Any connection to any business with even the appearance of being fraudulent will eventually bring your career to an end. Sure, it might have short term benefits; expensive houses, flashy cars, etc., but you will find it hard even remembering these items when the whole thing goes bust. Steer clear of participating in anything that smells of a scam, whether perpetrated by an individual or a large company. You owe it to yourself, your career and your family to stick to the straight and narrow.

What are you doing?

One type of fraud that effects high-tech careerists directly is unsolicited email or SPAM. As a user of the Internet you are deluged with ads to buy this miracle crème, invest in the latest multi-level marketing scheme or “make thousands of dollars from your home.” It amazes me that any high-tech careerist would have anything to do with creating and delivering spam. Don’t they know better? Aren’t they deluged with the same amount of email junk that all of us receive? You almost want to shake them by the shoulders and say, “you must use your powers for good, not evil.” It would probably have little effect, but it might make you feel better. These people are contributing to the demise of a useful Internet. They are taking this great tool we have been given and driving it into the ground. It is like using a fine silver butter knife to tighten a loose screw in your kitchen.

I make a call to all high-tech careerists; don’t work on technology that you wouldn’t want directed at yourself. Don’t build software that invades people’s privacy. Don’t create or use annoying “pop-up” advertising. Don’t use your technology in an attempt to defraud others, in any fashion. Just because we can do something, doesn’t mean we should. Let this become your watch phrase as you develop or build your high-tech career.

You are involved

At the moment, my biggest concern is high-tech workers who assist, directly or indirectly, in the stealing of hundreds of thousands of dollar through credit card fraud, abuse of Paypal-like payment systems and other outright, criminal frauds. Some might claim that they aren’t culpable because they were only providing technology services, not actually touching the money that resulted. This is bunk. If you continue to work for a company that is engaging in fraud, you are involved. If they are using technology you developed or equipment you operate, you are involved. If you find yourself in a situation such as this, there is only one thing for you do…get out…now! If you don’t, you could find yourself involved in civil litigation, criminal charges or even sent to prison.

Big or small

It should be clear that fraud can happen in any size company, from the smallest startup to the largest corporations. It seems very likely that when the Enron debacle is finally dissected we will find fraud on both a small and large scale. Worse yet, we will find scores of executives, managers and employees who decided to do nothing. For whatever reason, these people decided to do nothing, not even get a different job, when confronted with this fraud. They decided is wasn’t any of their business. These people collectively carry a small portion of responsibility for Enron’s failure. Worse yet, they also share responsibility for the loss of thousands of jobs, the decimation of the retirement plans and, very possibly, the end of their own careers.

As high-tech careerists all of you have the skills, desire and ability to live wonderful lives, filled with better than average luxuries for you and your families. Frauds will try and tempt you with visions of great wealth or greater power. They will play to the common human weaknesses of greed and fear. They will lie, cheat and steal, from their “customers” and probably even you. Don’t get involved. Don’t let it happen. You only need to look around you to see the results if you do.


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