Corruption and fraud affect societies all over the world, undermining trust, slowing economic progress, and perpetuating social injustices. As these issues continue to threaten the integrity of nations, it becomes critical to make use of new-age tools to combat them effectively. Cue social media checks and lifestyle audits.
In our digital age, lifestyle audits and social media background checks have proved to be effective tools in uncovering hidden truths and exposing criminal activities. By delving into the lifestyles and online presence of individuals, we can gain valuable insights into discrepancies, undisclosed assets, and social connections that may suggest malpractice.
In this blog post, we will dive into the transformative power of lifestyle audits and social media background checks, particularly in countries grappling with corruption and fraud. We will also explore how these comprehensive investigations can revolutionize the fight against dishonesty, holding wrongdoers accountable and fostering a more transparent society.
In simple terms, corruption is defined as ‘the abuse of entrusted power for private gain’ (transparency.org) . As we all know, corruption can have highly detrimental effects on society if left unmanaged, but identifying corruption and holding the culprits responsible only happens when we understand the way in which it works, and take the necessary steps to contain it.
According to the UNODC, corruption causes chaos in a number of ways, some of which include:
Even more worryingly, corruption shows no signs of slowing down. According to Transparency International, 155 out of 180 countries have made “no significant progress against corruption over the last decade.”. To top it off, statistics show that corruption costs the global economy upwards of $3.6 trillion a year in the form of bribes and stolen money.
What’s clear is that corruption is wreaking havoc, and shows no sign of slowing down. What isn’t very clear – is what can be done to combat it. Let’s dive in.
According to Corporate Insights, a lifestyle audit, otherwise known as a lifestyle assessment or lifestyle monitoring is defined as “an accountability tool that measures a person’s lifestyle – property and assets owned, spending habits, and way of living – against their legitimate wealth and income.”
Basically, this means that if someone is earning $1500 per month but they’re building multimillion-dollar homes and buying Louis Vuitton bags, there’s a high chance that they’re getting money from undisclosed sources.
In order to conduct a lifestyle audit – information needs to be collected from a number of different sources, some of which include:
Interestingly, lifestyle audits as a precautionary measure to fight corruption have already been implemented in many African countries where corruption is at its worst, such as South Africa, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Namibia, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Although they have shown signs of success, especially from a tax evasion perspective, there is definitely room for improvement.
These checks provide many benefits in fighting crime and corruption, such as identifying key assets and actions that would ultimately steer a forensic investigation and provide evidence of any misbehaviour. It is, however, important to note that lifestyle audits form part of a series of tools which make up an effective income and asset distribution system. Other important mechanisms include a well-established process for receiving and declaring and verifying assets, income and interests, internal audits, whistle-blower protection laws, and an efficient way to report suspicious activity (transparency.org).
Social media background checks are done through a third party to ensure the removal of any bias and prejudice, as well as to ensure that all legalities are abided by in order to conduct the check without crossing any lines.
When a social media background check is completed, all social and digital media presence is taken into account, this includes the more popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok, as well as all search page presence. Not only can background screeners identify unusual spending patterns or suspicious behaviour, but they can also point investigations in the right direction from a connections perspective.
Above and beyond the realms of social media, these checks also take into account primary digital media such as web searches and online behaviour. It’s important to note, however, that these checks can only assess and access what’s listed on the public domain which means that it is publicly available for everyone to see.
Despite the potential benefits and value added by lifestyle audits in curbing crime and corruption, it can be tricky to complete comprehensive audits on a large number of people successfully. This is where the benefits of social and digital media background checks come in – as it is possible to run a large batch of checks through an artificial intelligence-based system in order to identify red flags which could be further explored through a conventional background check and lifestyle audit.
The power of lifestyle audits and social media background checks lies in their ability to expose corrupt practices and their deterrent effect. As individuals become aware of the thorough scrutiny their lifestyles and online presence may undergo, the fear of being caught red-handed increases. This fear can help dissuade potential wrongdoers from engaging in corrupt acts, ultimately fostering a culture of transparency and accountability.