I'm a CFE

Johanna Duenser-Mardook, CFE

Vice president, business initiative fraud policy manager at Citi

Johanna Duenser-Mardook, CFE, who’s always loved solving puzzles, says the fight against fraud is a never-ending puzzle to identify missing pieces in cases or internal controls. As the vice president, business initiative fraud policy manager at Citi, Duenser-Mardook says she thrives on closing loopholes that help prevent serious damage to a person or business, financially or otherwise. “There’s a lot of focus on finance, pushing sales, managing operational cost, credit risk, etc.,” she says. “But many businesses aren’t aware of how much fraud they’re actually exposed to, so they often don’t take it as seriously. We can change this mindset and improve the fraud bottom line by raising awareness through conversation and training.”

I was born and raised in a small village close to Salzburg, Austria. Growing up I loved (and still do) riding my bicycle, skiing, riding horses and spending time with family at one of the beautiful lakes in Austria. I’ve also always had an affinity for traveling and learning foreign languages, so I seek out new opportunities to meet people from places all over the world (which is how I met my husband).

I attended the International Management Center in Krems, Austria, and graduated with a degree in export-oriented management. Part of what made this university and degree program so appealing was the international focus and opportunities to study abroad. As part of one of my majors, I focused my thesis on cybercrime and its impact on the international economy, which brought me right back into the fraud-related field.

I first started working for a global automotive finance company, completing a fast-track graduate program, which gave me an opportunity to work in several countries and different functional areas of the business. It ultimately led me to the risk management team, which was building an international fraud program at the time. My role soon grew into managing the fraud program for the European market, which gave me great insight into the nuances and variations of fraud trends. I then went into traditional banking, with a focus on anti-bribery and corruption, before some changes in my personal life brought me across the pond to the U.S.

I discovered a position at Citi a few months after moving to the U.S. in 2017. It was a perfect opportunity to further build my knowledge and skillset as an anti-fraud professional, and to gain a firsthand look into the U.S. banking industry while working for a major global player.

To those starting out in the fraud-fighting field: find your passion. Keep digging if you think something smells suspicious.

A crucial aspect of my role is to understand the latest fraud trends, identify emerging risks and threats, and implement policies and strategies to mitigate them. No day is ever the same — I work with a number of cross-functional teams to support the implementation of solutions and technology that drive fraud oversight and the execution of our fraud framework. I also represent the fraud policy team on internal governance committees and in industry roundtables and forums.

To those starting out in the fraud-fighting field: find your passion. Keep digging if you think something smells suspicious. Never stop learning and attend as many trainings, conferences, industry events as possible — fraudsters know how to network, and so should you.

The CFE credential not only provides fraud examiners with an extensive skillset, it also brings with it a certain sense of authoritative weight, especially for younger CFEs who might struggle to be taken seriously despite their expertise in the field.

Being a CFE has also impacted me on a very personal level, forging lifelong relationships. I attended the 2016 ACFE Fraud Conference Europe in Brussels during the terror attack, which happened right across from the conference hotel. The connections I made during that event are much stronger and more powerful than any other event I’ve ever been to. One woman I met — as we sat under a table waiting for the third bomb to be defused — has become a very dear friend. We attended last year’s ACFE Global Fraud Conference together, then I had an opportunity to work with her on a consulting project. She even flew in from Switzerland for my wedding ceremony!

My husband and I enjoy going to the beach and mountain biking on the trails surrounding the area. He owns a restaurant and loves to come up with new dishes, and I’m more than happy to volunteer tasting my way through all of his creative endeavors. We also both love to travel. Our most memorable experiences go back to before I moved to the U.S. when we took road trips through Italy and Austria.

Emily Primeaux, CFE, is associate editor of Fraud Magazine. Contact her at eprimeaux@ACFE.com.

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