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If you wish to make up numbers, you best heed Benford’s Law

So, you think you’ll be sneaky and invent numbers for your tax returns or your business financial statements, eh?

And, you probably think, how could they ever determine that you made numbers up because of course the starting numbers would be random and equally dispersed between 0 and 9.

Wrong.

Benford’s law, also called the first-digit law, states that in lists of numbers from many (but not all) real-life sources of data, the leading digit is distributed in a specific, non-uniform way.

30% of all starting numbers is the number 1. Auditors will simply run your numbers to see if they match Benford’s Law and if they don’t, will start digging deeper.

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