Michael Amory, CFE

Director, Global Ethics Case Governance, Walmart

By Interview by Cora Bullock; Photo by Victor Goodpasture
 cora-bullock-80x80   I'm a CFE

NovDec-michael-amoryAmory develops and implements a comprehensive end-to-end ethics program at Walmart. He administers new governance policies and updates old ones in Walmart’s Statement of Ethics. At the end of a case life cycle, his team is responsible for closure policies and procedures and the execution of remedial actions consistently across each global market.

I have always had a problem with bullies. As a police officer and criminal investigator with the Denver (Co.) District Attorney’s Office, I began to understand that bullies come in all forms, not just the ones that seek to do physical harm. There are a great many people out there who focus on stealing what good, hard-working people have taken years to earn and enjoy. I decided that I would use what I have learned to help prevent “fraud bullies” from being able to do that.

I began my career with detection and enforcement, which lead me to the process and prosecution side of criminal casework. Once you develop those skills, review and pursuance of policies and procedures becomes a necessary phase of your development as a fraud examiner.

I left college with a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater with a minor concentration in English, thinking I was going to head down to New York City and become a regular on a soap opera. I joined the Rochester (N.Y.) Police Department to avoid waiting on tables and found I had a knack for the job, so I stayed. 
Growing up in Rochester, N.Y., I was into sports, particularly football, basketball and martial arts. Somewhere along the line I became interested in horses but since I couldn’t own one in the city, I used to ride my bicycle on any Saturday I could up to the Finger Lakes area where the Thoroughbred horse farms were located.

In one Denver District Attorney’s Office case, we received approximately 16 complaints about credit card purchases and cash advances made on cards the complainants knew nothing about. A fraudster had opened the accounts over 18 months, all without the victims’ consent. We compared the signatures on the applications to the victims’ signatures and found some of them were either poor forgeries or just outright phony. The perpetrator would make small purchases on an account to boost credit limits and make regular payments. The perpetrator would then begin to make cash advances on the card and reduce the payment amounts until stopping them. Victims would become aware of the fraud when they applied for credit and would be notified of the delinquencies on their credit reports.

The perpetrator would open the bogus credit card accounts with personal information he’d pilfer from mail he lifted from random mailboxes. He’d fill in the applications with addresses from abandoned residential properties or listings from local real estate magazines and then redirect the mail to one of several P.O. boxes in three different counties.

We pored through several of the fraudster’s applications and found one that a credit card company had denied that contained the address of a former girlfriend. She gave us his name, photo and a last-known address. The property manager at that address told us he had evicted the fraudster a week earlier. However, he had just thrown a bag belonging to the fraudster in a nearby dumpster. We found in the bag a credit card statement of the fraudster that contained a post office box address. We were able to narrow down the location of the USPS postal station with the ZIP code attached to the mailing address. We surveilled the post office location for a week until the subject showed up to retrieve his mail. He later told us that that trip was to be his last, and he was headed out of state that afternoon! We obtained subpoenas for his bank records and recovered approximately 60 percent of the stolen funds and court-ordered the remainder as restitution.

I learned to take your time and examine the facts. Nothing is as cut and dry as it appears. Treat every case as a complex case and develop a process to use over and over again.

My motto is: “The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.” The early bird, of course, wants to get things done immediately. The second mouse is better than the first because the first mouse was impatient and got snapped up in the trap, while the second mouse can now saunter up to the trap and enjoy the cheese without the worry of being caught. The second mouse is more patient than the bird and the first mouse combined. It speaks to patience in anything you do. Sometimes reviewing something over and over will give you the answers you seek.

My greatest achievement to this date and probably for as long as I live is being a good dad. I have a 10-year-old daughter who is a straight “A” student, a budding musician, athlete, hysterically witty, accomplished equestrian and above all a happy, thoughtful and compassionate young lady. I don't think I can do any better than that!

I am a musician; I play bass, electric guitars, and I’m a vocalist. I also write music and dabble in the production of interactive and creative video. I am an artist so turning sketches into paintings often captures my interests. I take my horses trail riding, and I occasionally go on endurance rides (up to 100 miles). I achieved my second-degree black belt in tae kwon do in 2005. I eventually plan on testing for my third-degree black belt. I also am a writer in the science fiction and crime mystery genres; I published my first book — “The Sunset Gun” — in 2010. I am close to completing the second book of the trilogy, “Gabriel’s Horn.”

My advice to fledgling CFEs is, learn your craft! Learning how to read people is the most important skill a good interviewer can possess. Don’t convince yourself of the answers before you have developed the questions. More often than not, what is in front of you is not what it seems. Taking a myopic view of casework can lead to more trouble than the initial complaint itself.

Cora Bullock is assistant editor of Fraud Magazine

Read more insight and discuss this article in the ACFE's LinkedIn group.

The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners assumes sole copyright of any article published on www.Fraud-Magazine.com or www.ACFE.com. ACFE follows a policy of exclusive publication. Permission of the publisher is required before an article can be copied or reproduced. Requests for reprinting an article in any form must be emailed to FraudMagazine@ACFE.com