Though it’s been around in some form for a century and more, Benford’s Law as a fraud examiner’s tool is only beginning to surface in the literature. The idea is, somebody wants to phony up a list of numbers but gets too cute about randomizing it. They assume that the first digits, 1 through 9, are all going to be evenly distributed, so that each one will turn up 11% of the time. Eleven and change. But in fact, for most lists of numbers, the distribution of first digits is not linear but logarithmic. About 30% of the time, the first digit actually turns out to be a 1—then 17.5% it’ll be a 2, so forth, dropping off in a curve to only 4.6% when you get to 9.

So when Maxine goes through these disbursement numbers from hashslingrz, counting up how often each first digit appears, guess what. Nowhere near the Benford curve. What in the business one refers to as False Lunchmeat.

pretty cool

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