An interview with expert IT forensics analyst Frank Hydosk

By Dick Carozza

Clarifying Complexities

Most of us are daunted by a complicated case's massive quantities of data. But Frank Hydoski, an internationally recognized forensics expert, says take a deep breath, formulate the basic question of the case, use technology wisely, and don't forget your intuition.

This is what Frank Hydoski absolutely relishes: solving the 10-ton inscrutable case that involves millions of documents and electronic files, jumbled databases, conflicting testimonies, and convoluted ledgers.

After decades of investigations, Hydoski, a director in the New York office of Deloitte Financial Advisory Services LLP, says, "I'm no longer troubled by lots of data. In fact, I find it comforting!"

Hydoski sharpened his analytical skills as chief of forensics for the Independent Inquiry Committee into the United Nations Oil-for-Food Programme and as the leader of a multi-nation team investigating assets of Holocaust Victims in Swiss banks.

"Volumes of information in corporate and international investigations can indeed be daunting," says Hydoski. "However, I don't usually focus on volumes initially - and not just to postpone the inevitable panic. Rather, I work with my team to figure out the basic question or issue driving the investigation. ... Without a clear grasp of the basic question, it is very easy to become confused and engage in wasted efforts."

Though Hydoski always uses intricate IT methods to solve his cases, he believes his team inevitably answers questions with healthy doses of intuition. "I think of investigations, whether they are about fraud or some other aspect of forensic accounting as involving a conjunction of intuition, methodology, and technology," he says. "None are sufficient themselves. For example, I've seen too many investigations that are conducted as though they were 'agreed-upon procedures,' or pure methodology. These lead, it would seem inevitably, to null findings, whether there is substance to concerns or not. Likewise, pure technology is insufficient. ... The element of intuition, creativity, intelligence ... is essential to the investigatory experience. I think anyone who has sat around with a boatload of computer results and is trying to figure what they mean would agree to this notion."

Hydoski will be one of the keynoters at the 17th Annual ACFE Fraud Conference & Exhbition, July 9 - 14 in Las Vegas. He spoke to Fraud Magazine from his office in New York City.

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