I'm a CFE

Cristiane Soares, CFE

Senior investigator, TD Bank

"My greatest achievement is my ability to reinvent myself as I encounter different points in my life," says Cristiane Soares, CFE, senior investigator at TD Bank. Soares reinvented herself when she moved from her home country of Brazil to Canada to study English. "Moving to another country with limited resources — without speaking the language and without family and friends — was challenging, scary, and at times, very lonely." But Soares overcame these obstacles and was resolved to succeed — she says she never accepted "no" as an answer. "My journey in life gives me an unshakeable conviction that I'm capable of reinventing myself as many times as I choose to do so."

I was born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil. I have loving parents, and my family is very close, but I always had the urge to spread my wings and see the world. After establishing my career, I came to Canada on vacation to study English for two months. The experiences I had during that short period awoke my desire to live and study abroad. Three months later I quit my job in Brazil and started a new journey in Toronto.

I've always had a passion for volunteerism and helping others. I began volunteering in my community while living in São Paulo helping seniors and at local construction projects. At the age of 14, I started giving literacy classes for adults and the elderly; I also helped give speech classes for some of our church members.

One of my fondest memories was when I achieved my dream of becoming a successful attorney. To fund both my undergrad and master's education, I worked a full-time contract position as a trainee in the legal department of a large financial institution. Navigating the commute from work to school and then home was a two-hour journey each way involving two subway lines and two buses — often forcing me to choose between sleep and study. The effort and time commitment was rigorous, and while I never doubted I would see it through, I wondered if all my effort would pay off. When I graduated and passed the bar exam, I was offered a permanent position as an internal counsel in the litigation department.

Gaining the CFE credential helped me recognize both subtle and meaningful differences between South American and North American standards in a concise and productive manner."

After working a few years in litigation, there was an organizational restructure and I was assigned to work with constitutional and criminal law, which deals with economic crimes and administrative procedures. Shortly thereafter my manager went on maternity leave, leaving me responsible for the team and all cases within the national territory. Public law was a new subject matter for me, but I embraced this challenge with full devotion: studying cases, having discussions with our third-party lawyers, researching, making court appearances, networking, and working closely with our corporate security group and audit division. Through this experience, I became passionate about understanding economic crimes and gradually developed my working knowledge and expertise.

I knew being an avid networker would be an important part of my quest for meaningful employment. I'd originally traveled to Toronto on a student visa, so when that expired, I decided to improve my English-language skills before looking for work. When I felt I was ready, it was through networking with TD Bank professionals that I was able to gain a position as a customer service representative. A year later, I discovered a senior fraud investigator job posting. As I read the job description, I thought, "This is what I've done. I can do that!" I was interviewed and eventually hired.

My duties as senior investigator at TD Bank include:

  • Assisting in the prevention, detection and investigation on allegations of criminal activities, internal and external, against the bank, its staff and customers.
  • Identifying policy and procedural breakdowns and including recommendations to the appropriate business line to mitigate financial and reputational risk to TD Bank.
  • Working in close collaboration with law enforcement and regulatory agencies on behalf of TD Bank.

When I started working as a fraud investigator, I was introduced to a variety of training opportunities and credentials, including the CFE. After careful research, I decided that the ACFE was the right fit for me. Due to my background as a lawyer, I was always confident in my ability to grasp the concepts of law. Gaining the CFE credential helped me recognize both subtle and meaningful differences between South American and North American standards in a concise and productive manner.

I've always loved cartoons — the Justice League is one of my favorites. When I was a kid, I would daydream about becoming Wonder Woman and saving the world from evil. I also love dancing, reading and running. I've taken ballroom dancing lessons for few years and participated in a few performances. I also enjoy competing in races and marathons.

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