The successful fraud fighter

Encouragement and advice for new (and veteran) fraud examiners

By Charles E. Piper, CFE, CRT

Fraud examiners who succeed have passion, integrity and grit. Regardless of the stage of your career, all of us need to be reminded why we decided to become fraud examiners or investigators.

As a private investigator and consultant, I was once asked to review a police department's voluminous policies and procedures and then review the details of an incident that resulted in an arrest and the injury of a civilian. The injured party had a long history of previous arrests. My natural instinct was to lean toward taking the police officer's side, but I refrained from taking that position during my review. I discovered clear violations of the police department's policies and procedures as well as critical omissions in official police reports. It looked like a cover-up.

Next, I reviewed the reported internal affairs inquiry into the complaint and found that all the potential witnesses hadn't been interviewed, and those interviews that had been conducted favored the police officers. Some of the questions the investigators asked actually included suggested answers, they didn't ask any logical follow-up questions and the interviews included too many closed-end (yes or no) questions.

Conclusion? No matter where you are in your career, conduct your fraud examinations and investigations objectively, thoroughly and completely. And with integrity.


You might be at the start of your career, or maybe you've tallied quite a few fraud examinations by now. But it's always profitable to remind ourselves that the successful fraud examiner must:

  • Possess integrity (be honest).
  • Have specific job skills (acquired through training and/or experience).
  • Have knowledge of many aspects of law (e.g., right to privacy, the rules of evidence, and the elements of criminal offenses).
  • Be dedicated to the job (willing to go beyond the call of duty).
  • Be persistent (not willing to give up just because the going gets tough).
  • Be self-motivated (don't need someone else telling them what to do or when to do it).
  • Be resourceful (maximize the use of resources and be cost conscious when possible).

Fraud examiners and investigators should also have good planning, organizational and communication skills (oral and written). It also helps to be creative and clever. Of course, fraud examiners can obtain many skill sets in a classroom or in the field. However, a few characteristics often are instilled in some people early in their lives; in others, never at all. For example, the U.S. Army taught me the importance of persistence. The military teaches troops to never give up no matter what. Persistence is a valuable commodity. 

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