“Strive to be great even when others doubt your capabilities,” says Chris Blunt, CFE, senior fraud investigator at Toyota Financial Services. Blunt has lived by this motto throughout his career, even when an injury on the job became motivation to work his way into the fraud-fighting field. Realizing he could contribute more to the corporate environment, Blunt applied for an entry-level job at Toyota and worked his way to a senior-level position. And he credits obtaining his CFE credential for helping him get there. To those starting from the bottom and hoping to work their way up, Blunt has this advice: “Never be afraid to succeed and never be afraid to fail. It’s all part of the learning process.”
I was born and raised in Inglewood in Southern California. Growing up I was the typical boy — I enjoyed playing basketball, baseball, football, putting together and racing remote control cars, and dirt bike riding. I dreamed of becoming a professional basketball player.
In the summer of 1997, I was working in the Toyota warehouse and I got hurt on the job. The temp agency I went through for that job noticed that I had some office experience and could contribute more to the corporate environment. This led me to apply for an entry-level position at Toyota as a department specialist in the collections department, and now I’m working at a senior level for the company.
As a senior fraud investigator, I’m responsible for investigating suspected fraudulent applications, and lease and retail accounts. I validate, track and document fraud investigations and loss mitigation. I also partner with law enforcement and other financial institutions in identifying and preventing fraudulent activity.
Obtaining my CFE and joining the ACFE have been some of the best things I’ve ever done.”
I am very passionate about anything that I do, but I know how it feels to be a victim of fraud because I have had credit applied for in my name without my knowledge or consent. You feel violated and you lose a sense of security. You also lose that sense of innocence, and you feel like you always have to be on guard. So I take pride in working with victims and peers in trying to identify and prevent fraud.
Working in the anti-fraud field, I’ve learned how to research, examine, evaluate and analyze more throughout my career. This has led me to be a better investigator when I’m going over information in all the cases that I handle.
I worked on a case that involved sub-leasing of multiple vehicles all over the U.S. There was a suspect that was using multiple synthetic Social Security numbers and purchasing high-end vehicles from different dealerships. He’d then sub-lease them out. The suspect ended up getting around $700,000 worth of vehicles over a period of time. I gathered information on the suspect and presented it to law enforcement and alerted other financial institution peers who also had been victimized. The communication with other peers led to the FBI and each state’s attorney general getting involved in the case. The suspect was eventually arrested and multiple vehicles were returned back to the financial institutions, including ours.
When I joined the fraud department at Toyota, I wanted to expand my knowledge and expertise in the field of fraud prevention and deterrence, so I started doing some research and found out about the ACFE and the CFE credential. Obtaining my CFE and joining the ACFE have been some of the best things I’ve ever done. They’ve opened doors to other possibilities within my fraud examinations and connected me with other fraud investigators and law enforcement personnel from all over the world who are just as passionate about fighting fraud as I am.
I’ve learned that fraud can be hard to detect, so it takes a joint effort from all who are in fraud prevention and deterrence to work together to try to eliminate it.
My greatest achievement has been getting married and having our two beautiful sons that we love very much.
Emily Primeaux, CFE, is associate editor of Fraud Magazine. Her email address is: eprimeaux@ACFE.com.