On Being a Fraud

By | November 29, 2021

[November 29, 2021]  No one likes a fraud; a person who pretends to be someone or something they are not.  Perhaps this dislike is innate to humans, or maybe learned, but being a fraud means breaking the most critical element of humanness; trust.

A Canadian medical researcher who rose to become the nation’s top voice on indigenous health has been ousted from her government job and her university professorship — after suspicious colleagues investigated her increasingly fanciful claims of Native American heritage and learned she was a fraud.1

Many years ago, when I was a Major and part of a training unit, a Colonel turned out to be a fraud.  How, we asked, could someone pull off such a high-level deception and get away with it for years?  But, the man was a fraud.  He was good at coordinating many different military elements, bringing them together to conduct an extensive, complex military training exercise.  Someone decided one day to look into the man’s past.  He was arrested for impersonating a U.S. Army officer and sent to prison.

We can all be fooled by almost anyone who poses as something they are not.  All human relationships involved, at their core, an element of trust.  When trust is missing, bad things happen. I’ve written on the importance of trust on many occasions (see link here, here, and here).  Trust is not easy to build and yet easily lost.

Being a fraud is not something new in the human experience.  We see it written about in early philosophical discussions, in the Bible, and other ancient texts.  Some compare fraud to the early practices of propaganda, purposeful deception, trickery, deceit, hoaxes, scams, and even protection rackets.

Leaders build their place on being trusted to do what is right (morally and efficiently).  The greatest frauds of all time are those who were in leadership positions and were discovered.

There are many infamous frauds; Charles Ponzi, Victor Lustig (who “sold” the Eiffel Tower), Kenneth Lay (Enron), and Bernie Madoff.  And, it does not have to involve money.  In 1908, there were false claims that Frederick Cook reached the north pole before Robert Peary.  Today, there is doubt whether either man did so.

And, like the claims of American Indian ancestry, as we see in the Canadian medical researcher or Elizabeth Warren (U.S. presidential candidate), can lead to fraud.  Being a fraud is as old a story as human existence.  Our lesson, beware!!


  1. https://nypost.com/2021/11/27/canadian-indigenous-health-expert-carrie-bourassa-fired-for-faking-heritage/


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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I provide one article every day. My writings are influenced by great thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Jung, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Jean Piaget, Erich Neumann, and Jordan Peterson, whose insight and brilliance have gotten millions worldwide to think about improving ourselves. Thank you for reading my blog.

26 thoughts on “On Being a Fraud

  1. Mr. Savage

    Hi everyone, I’m new to this senior leadership site. I hope to add to the discussions of all. I work where there are team leaders in business who are frauds; faked education from college, faked experience, and faked other qualifications. It shows when they fail but my boss is unwilling to do anything about it. Why? Enter race and gender as THE factor.

    1. Frank Graham

      Welcome Mr. Savage. I’m sure you will appreciate this site and grow as a leader. We are very open and often politely critique one another.

  2. Janna Faulkner

    This is one of the better articles in a long time. I know that “real men” and I mean REAL MEN are never frauds. They are what they are, the good and the bad. None of us are perfect but you have to be comfortable in your own skin before you can be a real leader. Go REAL MEN. The sissy men we see in politics can go to HECK for my concerns.

    1. Joe Omerrod

      Those guys and gals are everywhere. I’ve been watching old westerns on tv lately and it seems on nearly every episode there is a “snake oil salesman” trying to pawn off some new “medical cure” upon the unsuspecting people out West. Great entertainment but I wouldn’t want to part with my hard earned money.

    2. KenFBrown

      Hahaha, good one Mark. I haven’t heard that in a long time but that is exactly what Gen. Satterfield is writing about. It pays to be strong and resilient (mentally and physically). Stay on your game and beware of fraudsters out there.

  3. Lady Hawk

    Nothing like a great article to start my day. This one I’ll be sharing with my co-workers. We work in the finance sector and it is always an appropriate time to remind us of the major failings of humans and how we can get trapped into trusting too much of strangers.

  4. Shawn C. Stolarz

    Good article, Gen. S. I’ve been scammed out of my money in the past couple of years. Happens a lot around major holidays like this Christmas season, so beware and be sure to know who you are dealing with.

    1. rjsmithers

      Yes, be careful. Gen. Satterfield alerts us to frauds but if you are not fully aware of what is happening when dealing with people, you can easily be tricked. Use cash only this holiday season. Oh, and an early Merry Christmas to all.

  5. Boy Sue

    Good article, this morning, Gen. Satterfield. I always love it when I log on and get another surprise. This one on Fraud was esp. a good one. Thanks.

  6. Max Foster

    Fraud, embezzlement, con-artists, there is nothing new about any of them. In 193 AD, the Roman Empire was sold to the highest bidder by the Praetorian Guard, and the ill-fated Emperor Didius Julianus enjoyed its ownership for a blissful nine weeks, before the fraud fell apart and he went the way of a great many Roman emperors.

    1. Pooch T.

      Ancient but still works. I knew people who claimed to have a certain college diploma when they didn’t even go to college. Another claimed to be an airline pilot but never did take the required training. The list goes on and on. Nothing new in human deception and the breaking of trust.

  7. Army Captain

    Gen. Satterfield, the story of a man caught impersonating a full Colonel in the US Army flabbergasted me. I agree with your question, how could this be and last so long. This means many things at many levels. One, it means that people weren’t doing their job vetting the people on the exercise team. Two, it means that we have holes in our security system, And, three, it means that “hope” and “trust” sometimes can lead us to the wrong conclusions and accept help that is not real help. We all need to be aware of the ancient frauds that have been a boil on the butt of society since the beginning of mankind.

    1. Lynn Pitts

      Army Capt, you’re right, of course, and I think much of this was overcome by the Dept of Defense’s new ID card system. You can’t fake those cards.

    2. Army Vet

      Excellent point Army Captain. Let’s not get caught again that way. The military now invites frauds with their terrible senior leadership. I’ve lost all respect for the US military given their WOKE generals; a bunch of pussy, sissy men are now in charge.

    1. Valkerie

      But…but…..Lizzie Warren had seen a photograph of her “Maw-Maw with the High Cheekbones.” What more evidence would an elite Libbie graduate of the Finest Schools in the World require? “Fraud” is an undeservedly kind word to describe Lizzie Warren.

      1. Nick Lighthouse

        They don’t care what we think or say or write. They get their power and their money. Just look at how Hunter Biden is openly accepting money for his first-grade level “artwork” when everyone knows that it is a bribe to get into the circle of “president” Biden his dad.

        1. Guns are Us

          Shameful and I guess that is the point. We don’t like frauds. Period. 😉

  8. Rev. Michael Cain

    Joe Biden is a fraud and the world now knows it. People did vote for him but he deceived them too. Some of us were not fooled. Biden is a fraud thru and thru.

    1. Dead Pool Guy

      I agree, but there is little we can do about it other than keep this tragedy out in the open. Our news media is doing everything they can to cover it up (they got caught with their pants down around their collective ankles and sucking someone in the a$$). Our media is a scandal in and of themselves.


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