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"The name of the game in entrepreneurship is to break the rules."
—University of Tulsa psychology professor Robert Hogan

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While some Internet types fancy themselves as rogues, a new study suggests that's not far from the truth.

A study by Kroll Associates suggests Internet executives are four times more likely to have a questionable or criminal past than their low-tech counterparts, reports CNET.

According to the study, background checks revealed 40% of senior managers at Internet companies had questionable pasts, including criminal convictions or connections. Only 10% of non-Net execs had shady pasts.

The global business investigations and intelligence firm conducted background checks on 70 dot-com executives. It found 27 had been charged with, or connected to, white-collar crimes, including insurance fraud, undisclosed bankruptcy, Securities and Exchange Commission violations and ties to the Russian mafia.

One of the more infamous players is Patrick J. Naughton. The ex-Infoseek executive was convicted of possession of kiddie porn. Naughton had previously faced charges of crossing state lines to have sex with a minor and was once arrested for allegedly soliciting sex on the Internet from an FBI agent posing as a 13-year-old girl.

Another bad boy is Michael Fenne (also known as David Stanley) of So Cal streaming media start-up Pixelon. In Oct. 1999, Fenne spent more than $12 million on iBash, a lavish Las Vegas launch party featuring performances by Tony Bennett, Kiss and the Who. Fenne later fessed up to his criminal past, surrendering in April to Virginia authorities on charges he bilked $1 million from elderly investors in the late 1980s.

While many young dot-com deviants are swayed by the money and power they encounter at an early age, Kroll found more than a dozen executives who didn't clear the background check were senior managers or seasoned board members tapped for their credibility.

University of Tulsa psychology professor Robert Hogan says the study reinforces dot-comers' image as "people who are real aggressive, who are willing to take chances, who are willing to roll the dice, break rules." According to his research, e-entrepreneurs are considerably more adventurous than their corporate counterparts.

"There is a huge difference between an entrepreneur and someone who climbs the corporate hierarchy at Bank of America or General Motors. In a corporation, it has to do with conscientiousness and rule following. And the name of the game in entrepreneurship is to break the rules."

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