I'm a CFE

Rick Schumacher, CFE

Senior global compliance investigator, Nissan Motor Corporation

Rick Schumacher, CFE, says he’s always wanted to achieve a more complex understanding of rationalization. He spent years as a cross-cultural communication specialist in the U.S. military, but says he felt a need to link that knowledge to fraud and misconduct. “I started looking to broaden my exposure at a large, multinational organization with a footprint in international markets,” he explains. Schumacher found that at Nissan Motor Corporation as a senior global compliance investigator. “One of the core principles of Nissan is cross-cultural empathy,” says Schumacher. “I’ve been able to learn a lot while simultaneously adding quite a bit of value to the organization.”

I was born in Seattle, Washington, but my mother, sisters and I left the state when I was two years old. From there we went to south Texas and eventually my mother got caught up in illegal drugs. Consequently, we moved around a lot throughout my youth. In total, I’d moved at least 36 times by the time I was old enough to join the Army.

Growing up, I rode horseback in a couple of junior rodeo competitions. I’ve also always enjoyed being outside. Aside from that, I was a Boy Scout and a Civil Air Patrol cadet. For a time, I was part of the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program. My Big Brother was a detective in the Amarillo Police Department. He’d previously been a U.S. Army Special Forces soldier with service in Vietnam. I wanted to follow in his footsteps, so I enlisted in the U.S. Army and became a Special Operations soldier. Once I left the service, I became an investigator in state government.

I earned my undergraduate degree in criminal justice and my graduate degree in public affairs from Park University. Park is a great school that is veteran friendly. They provide a rigorous education in a hybrid format (online and traditional). I was working full time, I had a full-time course schedule and my family grew by two baby girls while I was pursuing my education. I joked that I slept on Thursdays.

I decided to pursue a criminal justice degree so I could advance my career. However, once I began digging into the research, my intention changed. I looked at the various reasons behind criminal behavior, and I decided that I wanted to work on solutions to those issues and on ways to prevent crime, particularly occupational misconduct by addressing the rationalization aspect of the Fraud Triangle.

The CFE credential has been a preferred, and many times even required, certification in many job postings that I’ve looked at in the past.

I have three overarching duties in support of the Nissan Global Compliance team: investigate internal complex compliance fraud issues across Nissan’s global footprint; help to provide subject-matter guidance, training and other assistance to regional investigators and other Nissan staff; and assist in managing the global compliance hotline and case management system.

Growing up the way I did, I’ve always been tuned in to economic disparity and how need can get people to do some outlandish things. I really didn’t get the whole picture of it until I was studying fraud processes while working on my undergraduate degree. Looking at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in relation to Cressey’s Fraud Triangle opened my eyes to high-order needs and how those non-basic needs can fuel fraud rationalization at various economic strata.

I’ve always had a knack for interpersonal communications, interviewing and interrogation. I think a lot of this ability stems from my unconventional upbringing as I can draw from many of my own experiences to build rapport. I used these experiences and skills in Iraq, working to influence local Iraqis to turn in enemy combatants. As an investigator, I’ve learned to hone my empathic communication style.

The CFE credential has been a preferred, and many times even required, certification in many job postings that I’ve looked at in the past. It was preferred at Nissan when I applied for my current position, and it has helped me grow professionally.

I have one life lesson that encompasses hundreds of little lessons: always be curious. Be curious in an investigation because there’s always something to learn about the issue. Be curious in your wider world. The more we learn, the more we can use for our personal growth and the more effective we can be in our careers.

I love to kayak on Lady Bird Lake in Austin, camp anywhere (as long as it’s not too hot) and volunteer with The Pat Tillman Foundation and other veterans’ groups. One of my proudest achievements is being a father and husband to a great family — occasionally, though, I enjoy sneaking off to watch a movie all by myself.

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