This perspectives article surveys publications in business history and constructs a conceptual framework for researching fraud and other dubious financial practices, their determinants and their consequences. The prevalence and nature of the practices studied are mainly determined by individual traits, firm governance and control, the economic environment, and regulation. Contemporaries make sense of dubious practices by constructing narratives, possibly framing them as scandals, which are likely to lead to attempts at regulatory change. It is primarily the socio-economic impact of dubious practices that determines whether regulation becomes fundamentally stricter. Existing agendas for reform strongly influence the substance of regulatory responses.