Fraud Talk: The Oxfraud- What a Pseudo-Academic Conspiracy Theory Tells Us About Financial Fraud

William Shakespeare is widely considered to be one of the most prolific and influential writers of all time. But one group of individuals, who call themselves “Oxfordians” and their theory the “Shakespeare Authorship Question,” falsely claim that what we know to be Shakespeare’s plays and poetry were actually penned by someone else. In this episode, ACFE Chief Training Officer John Gill, J.D., CFE, joins Michael Pocalyko, CFE, the CEO of SI, as they look at how the qualities of those claiming to disprove Shakespeare’s authorship parallel the character of financial and investment fraudsters.

In the excerpt below from episode 120, Michael talks about confirmation bias and how it can be shown through the “Oxfordians”. Download the full transcript in PDF form or listen to the episode at the bottom of this post.

John: I think that also plays into one of your points that I maybe taking out of order, and that is confirmation bias. If I want to believe what you’re saying, I could look at this like, “Michael is recommending investment. He has an MBA from Wharton. He knows what he’s talking about. I’m all in.” If you’re doing proper unbiased due diligence, it’s like, “Yes, that’s a well-respected institution, well-respected degree, but does he have any experience in this particular field?”

Michael: Sure. It’s like if your child needs brain surgery, the guy is an MD, obviously he’ll be able to do a simple trephination and subdural hematoma. No, he’s not, he’s not qualified for that. He is an MD, and so is the brain surgeon, but they– It’s easy to illustrate with medicine. Confirmation bias works importantly here. Our colleague, Bret Hood, recently did a piece for a ACFE about another piece that is related to confirmation bias, which is illusory superiority. In illusory superiority, confirmation bias is what the Oxfraudians do. They drive you down one path, and everything on that path only points to one possible conclusion, and that is that de Vere wrote these plays.

It is heavy-duty confirmation bias along with illusory superiority. Like confirmation bias, and again, this is Bret Hood’s theory and proof, illusory superiority is where you overestimate your own abilities. That’s key to all of these Oxfraudians. When you read their stuff, it’s the most pedantic garbage writing. They don’t know how to construct a simple sentence. Maybe that’s the legacy of Edward de Vere, who was also an awful writer. The heavy-duty confirmation bias is what says, “Listen to me, just believe me. Your eyes will be opened.”

In their formulation, any regulated authority is scorned, because in their world, regulated authority is self-interested. By that I mean, “Those Stratfordians,” which is the derisive term that the Oxfraudians use for real Shakespeareans, “They only have their own club, and you people at the Red Roof Inn get ready to invest with me. You’ve been left out of all of these clubs. We’re going to start our own club.” In this case, the people in the club only listen to themselves. If you actually look at some of their so-called academic writing, it is not double-blind reviewed.

It is not subject to peer review by credentialed real university persons. Yes, some of them have actual university appointments, but when they publish they are self-publishing. It is no small coincidence that the rise of self-publishing and the diminishment of cost of self-publishing has resulted in an explosion of these kinds of books. They also constantly, and this is again what financial fraudsters will do, they will selectively apply partial truth. They will use unverified assertion that certainly sounds true to construct a false narrative that also includes partial verified third-party verifiable fact.

Download the transcript SOURCE: ACFE Insights – A Publication of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners