I'm a CFE

Nicole Biskop, CFE

Project officer, court results and performance for the Department of Justice, Sydney, Australia

"Get started on your journey! Don't wait until the perfect job opportunity comes your way," says Nicole Biskop, CFE, project officer for the DOJ in Sydney, Australia. "Reflect on your experiences, skills and motivation, and decide on the direction you want to take in your career. Then every job, project, study experience and volunteer work becomes a valuable step on that path." Biskop has followed her own advice throughout her career, traveling the world to pursue her own passions in criminology and fraud investigation. In her spare time, she enjoys sailing on the Sydney Harbour, kayaking, hiking in national parks, reading and fulfilling her duties as the secretary of the Sydney ACFE chapter.

I was born in a small town called Roosendaal in the southern part of the Netherlands. I spent my weekends and holidays sailing. My other hobbies were reading and playing tennis.

When I was little, I wanted to become an astronaut. I was a very curious child — always busy trying to understand the world around me. I loved reading, exploring new places and meeting new people. I was also very fascinated by human behavior. I wanted to "do good" and help people in unfair situations. Justice and fairness are values that I've held high from a young age.

At the age of 18 I moved to Maastricht in the Netherlands to study economics at the university. I enjoyed studying there because of its international context and the "problem based" learning style. Problem-based learning was a brand new system in which students not only acquired knowledge but also learned to exchange this knowledge in small working groups. After a year studying economics, I started my search for something more multidisciplinary, which brought me to Leiden University — one of the oldest and highest-ranked universities in the Netherlands — where I received my Bachelor and Master in Criminology.

My personal motto is to stay curious and embrace the unknown."

I started as the first criminologist on PricewaterhouseCoopers' (PwC) forensic services team in Amsterdam the day after I received my Master's degree. Within six months I was sent to Germany to work on two of the largest FCPA remediation projects worldwide. Together with PwC colleagues from all over the world, I worked in the due diligence team and I helped coordinate worldwide electronic data reviews supporting corporate audit with investigating allegations of fraud and bribery.

I will never forget one of my first cases after coming back to the Netherlands. I found myself in a room with 42 boxes containing unorganized pieces of paper including receipts, invoices, emails, notes and contracts all relating to projects in the Middle East. The client was a multinational company listed on the U.S. stock exchange, and PwC was engaged to investigate allegations of bribery of government officials and embezzlement of funds by two directors. After weeks of reviewing hard copy and electronic documents I found a spreadsheet in which the two directors appeared to have divided corporate funds. I also found several emails to agents and government officials that indicated potential bribery. When confronted with the documents in an interview, the individuals under investigation confessed to paying kickbacks to government officials to win several contracts. Finding the "smoking gun" made the work very rewarding.

My desire to explore the world brought me to Australia three years ago when I started working as a fraud investigator at Ernst & Young. I eventually decided it was time to broaden my horizons and reconnect with my research background in criminology, so I applied for a statistical role with the Department of Justice. As the project officer, court results and performance, I'm responsible for statistical reporting on the effectiveness and efficiency of the criminal courts to Australian government stakeholders, including the Council of Australian Governments.

In 2014 I helped start the Sydney chapter as interim secretary, and in 2015 I was elected to be secretary permanently. I take care of maintaining all records for the chapter, correspond with members and host training sessions. I very much enjoy each training session because of the diversity of speakers and members. One of the goals of the chapter in 2016 is to grow the number of CFEs even further by facilitating study groups for associate members.

Through the ACFE I've gained valuable connections with anti-fraud professionals in Australia. For me, the CFE credential has made a difference because of its international context and being able to connect with professionals from different backgrounds who share my passion for fighting fraud.

My personal motto is to stay curious and embrace the unknown. This is how I expand out of my comfort zone, grow personally and professionally, get closer to the truth as an investigator and enrich my life.

Emily Primeaux is assistant editor of Fraud Magazine. Her email address is: eprimeaux@ACFE.com.