Publication Date



This Essay applies a distinctively sociological multilevel analysis to fraud to provide novel insights and recommendations on an old problem. Rather than treating fraud as a problem of “criminogenic environments” or of individual psychologies and motivations, this multilevel analysis investigates the ways in which individuals (the micro level) interact with organizations (the meso level) and institutional systems (the macro level) to produce fraud. We illustrate these interactions and the insight that an interactive analysis can provide by using ethnographic data from an in-depth case study of the R. Allen Stanford offshore financial fraud. The case, which occurred in the Caribbean island nation of Antigua and Barbuda in the 1990s and early 2000s, is not just the story of a bad actor. It is one that illustrates the ways that regulatory agencies, legislatures, and the offshore system can facilitate—or impede—fraud at various levels of analysis. We conclude with the practical insights that can be derived from this multilevel perspective.