I'm a CFE

Kendrick Thomas, CFE

Criminal investigator and training & operations manager at the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command

Kendrick Thomas, CFE, the oldest of seven children, has always credited his greatest achievements to his family. But his experience in the military follows closely behind. As a criminal investigator and training & operations manager at the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command in Fort Hood, Texas, he credits his expanding knowledge of white-collar crime to the connections he’s made as a Certified Fraud Examiner. “In 2013 I became interested in obtaining my CFE and I finally received it in 2018,” he says. “Be willing to put in the time and effort to obtain whatever it is that you seek. Whether it be investigative results or certifications, persistence is key.”

I was born and raised in West Columbia, South Carolina. At age 17 I left home to join the U.S. Marine Corps and have been all over the world ever since.

Growing up I was always outside playing sports, working on cars with my dad and fishing. In third grade we took a trip to the local fire department, so I always wanted to be a fireman.

As a criminal investigator in the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) our primary responsibility consists of investigating felony-level crimes in which the Department of the Army has an interest. Currently, as the training manager in our battalion in Texas, I am responsible for managing all investigative and non-investigative training and resources for approximately 200 military and civilian law enforcement and support personnel. I provide direct training management support to five subordinate investigative units, ensuring that personnel receive the necessary training required to efficiently and effectively carry out our investigative missions.

I’ve participated in a variety of fraud-related investigations that include, but aren’t limited to, military housing allowance fraud, basic pay fraud, and procurement and contract fraud. In my current role as a training manager at our battalion level, I’m responsible for identifying the appropriate training and acquiring the necessary slots in which to place our investigators.

I’ve always had an interest in economic and white-collar crime, but that interest deepened while working with a likeminded colleague in Germany in 2011. She displayed an interest in the same and fittingly now works in San Antonio, Texas, as a civilian fraud investigator for the U.S. Army CID Command.  My interest was solidified in 2013 when I met, for the first time, several CFEs who were also on active duty and part of the same investigative organization as me.

The most important lesson I’ve learned while working in this field is to continue to be willing to learn from others.

I’ve been exposed to various types of criminal activity both in and outside of the military, which has been a good thing. Over the course of 12 years with the U.S. Army CID Command Advanced, I’ve learned and honed investigative skills like crime-scene processing, crime-scene photography, conducting child abuse and sexual assault investigations, hostage negotiations and evidence collection.

The most important lesson I’ve learned while working in this field is to continue to be willing to learn from others. As it pertains to learning what we don’t know, adding a thing or two from others to one’s toolbox displays a willingness and desire to be better at your craft.

I first heard of the ACFE and CFE credential while preparing to deploy to the Middle East in 2013. Two fellow agents (also CFEs) were invited to our training location to provide a brief overview in economic crime activity. Both had obtained the CFE, out of pocket, because of their interests in fraud and desire to become subject-matter experts within our organization. Until then I’d been unaware that there was a credential path that could be taken by those interested in fraud examinations.

The CFE credential allows me to identify and interact with others who’ve had their CFE for much longer. This has helped me expand my connections and widen my knowledge base.

Outside of work, I like to relax with my wife and children by going RVing. When time allows, we always try to take a road trip with our tow-behind to any nearby lakefront location. In 2017, while we were living in Virginia, we sustained blown tires but didn’t know it. We continued to pull our trailer down the highway for a while before we were flagged down, corralled and forced to pull over by other motorists on the road. What can I say — when you’re in the zone, you’re in the zone.

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