Siobhan Fitzgerald, CFE

Chief investigator, Commonwealth of Massachusetts Unemployment Insurance Program Integrity Unit

By Interview by Cora Bullock;Photo by Aynsley Floyd/AP Images

cora-bullock-80x80   I'm a CFE


Not every CFE grows up speaking French in the home. Or traveling the world on a Navy repair supply ship. Or earning a sociology degree from Harvard University while raising two sons alone. But Siobhan Fitzgerald isn't your average CFE. She now leads a team of seven investigators that reviews tips of possible fraud and abuse in the Massachusetts' unemployment program. Though team members often investigate in the field, the unit relies heavily on data analytics to detect early patterns of fraud, which mitigates risk to the Commonwealth, she says.

I've learned that fraud can be likened to a "Pandora's Box." You need to dig deeper to determine if advanced fraud schemes are going on. In my experience, it's not usually a single instance of fraud but more of an orchestration of schemes.

My day-to-day duties involve primarily investigation of potential fraudulent unemployment claims perpetrated through identity theft — either the employer calls when they receive the bill or the claimant. We've investigated cases of fictitious employers setting up shop with stolen identities and filing claims.

I'm the youngest of eight children, born and raised in Newton, Mass.

I always dreamed of being an attorney because I have always been passionate about justice and due process for individuals. But now I've shifted my focus to research and investigation. I feel my contribution as a CFE is an integral part of potential prosecution.

By far my most memorable experience at Harvard was completing the one-year intensive foreign language requirement. As a child, my mother taught French to my siblings and me. My mother had mastered the language and felt it was important that her children were also bilingual. We spoke it at dinner on Friday nights.

I've always been passionate about doing the right thing, which was somewhat of a challenge when I worked in the private-sector financial services industry as a field compliance officer. I worked on a case in which an elderly client had lost her investment because her advisor had stolen her funds. The client had intended on using her money to pay for her husband's nursing home care. I connected with the client during the investigation and empathized with her situation. Thankfully, the organization was able to make the client whole.

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