The Global Anti-Fraud Community Speaks Up

Consider Making Your Anti-Fraud Team Multinational


By Jonathan E. Turner, CFE, CII

jonathan-turner-80x80.jpgMy Take  

A seminal ACFE concept is that properly prepared fraud examiners must have an understanding of law, accounting, investigation, criminology and ethics to effectively root out fraud. However, over the last few years I’ve seen another emerging aspect. With the expansion of the CFE credential internationally, and the huge growth of the global anti-fraud community, it’s becoming more common for teams to consist not just of multidisciplinary members, but of people from different countries, ethnicities and cultures. These teams, whose members speak differing native languages, look at fraud through various lenses that have shaped their viewpoints.In recent months, I’ve had opportunities to work with a variety of multinational teams of anti-fraud professionals on several unrelated projects. The diverse cultural and linguistic perspectives have aided the investigation and resolution of very complex fraud cases. In each case, the international component of the team contributed to its success. We identified and removed cultural biases by asking questions from a wide range of global perspectives, including presumptions on behavior, interpretations of responses and isolating key points for testing.

In recent months, I’ve had opportunities to work with a variety of multinational teams of anti-fraud professionals on several unrelated projects. The diverse cultural and linguistic perspectives have aided the investigation and resolution of very complex fraud cases. In each case, the international component of the team contributed to its success. We identified and removed cultural biases by asking questions from a wide range of global perspectives, including presumptions on behavior, interpretations of responses and isolating key points for testing.

We explored nuances of suspects’ behavior that seemed significant only when we framed them with concepts from many language structures. For example, in one language there might be a single word for a concept, but in another language that concept is divided into a number of words, each expressing different shades of meaning of that concept.

Often, when a person describes a relationship with an outside vendor or customer, the specific word they use to describe the connection reveals a wide range of explicit meanings, depending on the native language of the interviewer. What that person describes as a “friend” in English might well be divided into subcategories worthy of exploration in other languages.

Of course, each person, regardless of nationality, brings unique elements of experience and perspective to a team, but we produced better results for clients when members spoke numerous native languages. Typical teams include members from up to 10 different nationalities working in a variety of countries. These teams yielded results that exceeded those of mono-language teams I’ve worked with. And when the fraud examination process works better, I pay attention.

Obviously, team members must communicate with each other in a common language. However, the idea that this must be the only native language on a team is flawed. It’s important that team members have differing views so they can challenge each other to explain their perspectives. A wider range of perspectives is essential when we’re looking for gradations in supposedly ordinary work activities.

After anyone watches a 3D movie, they know the extra dimension changes the perspective of the image. The evolving, multidimensional, global anti-fraud community provides opportunities to include these new perspectives on anti-fraud teams and use these enhanced images to successfully fight fraud.


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By Pres-SFCACFE
Excellent perspective. As a multi-lingual CFE, having conducted investigations in different countries, I could not agree with you more.