Channels ▼

Jocelyn Paine

Dr. Dobb's Bloggers

An Excel Bonus

February 15, 2009

More spreadsheet deceit and deception. Following on from my two Salami postings, here's a different variety of salami attack.

This one was posted to the European Spreadsheet Risks Interest Group mailing list by Ralph Baxter of ClusterSeven, who sell software for making spreadsheets easier to audit by monitoring and recording changes. Ralph does not say whether this particular fraud was one that his software detected...

A trader takes a large operational spreadsheet which will contribute to the pricing of his deals and hence his bonus. He finds a cell buried somewhere high up (or low down depending on your perspective) in the detail of the calculation process. He then adds a small amount each day for 60 days. Of course the changes to the bottom line are very small, so there is little requirement to follow up. Surprise, surprise, at the end of the period his profit is just sufficient to trigger his bonus. Then over the next 60 days, he takes the same small amount out of the cell every day. After 120 days, the current version of the spreadsheet shows no evidence of the fraudulent manipulation.

Related Reading

More Insights

Currently we allow the following HTML tags in comments:

Single tags

These tags can be used alone and don't need an ending tag.

<br> Defines a single line break

<hr> Defines a horizontal line

Matching tags

These require an ending tag - e.g. <i>italic text</i>

<a> Defines an anchor

<b> Defines bold text

<big> Defines big text

<blockquote> Defines a long quotation

<caption> Defines a table caption

<cite> Defines a citation

<code> Defines computer code text

<em> Defines emphasized text

<fieldset> Defines a border around elements in a form

<h1> This is heading 1

<h2> This is heading 2

<h3> This is heading 3

<h4> This is heading 4

<h5> This is heading 5

<h6> This is heading 6

<i> Defines italic text

<p> Defines a paragraph

<pre> Defines preformatted text

<q> Defines a short quotation

<samp> Defines sample computer code text

<small> Defines small text

<span> Defines a section in a document

<s> Defines strikethrough text

<strike> Defines strikethrough text

<strong> Defines strong text

<sub> Defines subscripted text

<sup> Defines superscripted text

<u> Defines underlined text

Dr. Dobb's encourages readers to engage in spirited, healthy debate, including taking us to task. However, Dr. Dobb's moderates all comments posted to our site, and reserves the right to modify or remove any content that it determines to be derogatory, offensive, inflammatory, vulgar, irrelevant/off-topic, racist or obvious marketing or spam. Dr. Dobb's further reserves the right to disable the profile of any commenter participating in said activities.

Disqus Tips To upload an avatar photo, first complete your Disqus profile. | View the list of supported HTML tags you can use to style comments. | Please read our commenting policy.