I'm a CFE

Norman DeBoer, CFE

Detective, Waterloo Regional Police Service

The ACFE presented Norman DeBoer, CFE, the Certified Fraud Examiner of the Year award at the 30th Annual ACFE Global Fraud Conference in June. DeBoer, a detective with the Waterloo (Ontario, Canada) Regional Police Service for 29 years, completed in 2018 the precedent-setting $12 million financial advisor fraud case of Daniel P. Reeve, who received a 14-year prison sentence. DeBoer was the lone investigator. “Now that the case is finally over,” DeBoer says, “I’m meeting with many of the victims, who have been so patient through this process, to allow them to ask questions and help provide the closure that many of them need.”

I grew up on a large dairy farm in Fort Erie, Ontario in Canada near Buffalo, New York, with my parents and five siblings.

As long as I can remember, I wanted to be a police officer. I used to enjoy watching CHIPs and other police shows when I was a kid. One key thing I have learned is that unfortunately, most people do not care about justice unless something affects them personally. Someone needs to be willing to stand in that gap to provide the compassion, skills and authority necessary to obtain justice.

The Daniel P. Reeve $12 million financial advisor fraud case was the largest of my entire career. In 2018, the case was finally completed, and Reeve was sentenced to 14 years by a superior court judge. This was a precedent-setting case with the longest conviction ever to be handed down in Canada for fraud.

Woody Allen once described a stockbroker as someone who invests your money until it’s all gone. The court eventually ruled that this was a good description of what Reeve did to his victims. He’d written seven books on financial concepts. He said he owned more than 20 successful companies. But he misrepresented himself as a licensed financial advisor. He conducted presentations to individuals of vulnerable affinity groups including the recently bereaved, disabled, widows, seniors and students.

Reeve received around $30 million from approximately 175 investors. The scope of the fraud was narrowed for court purposes to $10 million to $12 million representing 41 core families. The court held that the evidence was clear that Reeve misrepresented and misappropriated the victims’ investments. Reeve promised that these “low-risk” investments were to provide interest rates of between 10 to 20 percent but in reality delivered staggering losses.

I was the lone investigator. I interviewed approximately 300 witnesses and provided prosecutors with electronic disclosure consisting of more than 150,000 documents and 125 GB of data.

With the magnitude of this investigation, careful organization was a key factor in a successful prosecution of the case. I systematically laid out the investigation and took the focus away from the role of the police and placed it onto the actions of the accused and how he’d targeted vulnerable victims.

A fraudster enters your life with a smile, builds trust and then proceeds to take full advantage of that position with absolutely no regard for his victim.

“In the animal kingdom,” the judge said at the end of the trial, “a predator seeks out the most vulnerable member of a herd and then ruthlessly hunts them down. This is a fair description of the predatory tactics employed by Mr. Reeve in this large and lengthy ongoing fraud.”

When I began working in the Fraud Branch, I had some exceptional investigators that willingly came alongside me as mentors. Their expertise and advice was critical in those early years. Several of them were Certified Fraud Examiners who encouraged me to pursue that area of education to better equip me to do the necessary work of a fraud investigator.

The education and learning that has occurred as a result of having the CFE credential has improved my scope and understanding of various complex fraud investigations. As a law enforcement officer, you can sometimes become polar-focused on one area or style of investigation. The ACFE learning component has broadened my knowledge base and given me the ability to consider other perspectives necessary for a thorough investigation.

The advice I’d give to those just beginning in the fraud-fighting field would be to take your time to look at all the evidence. The best part about a fraud is the paper trail. You can’t ignore the money flow. Seek help from other specialists. Ask a lot of questions and listen carefully to the answers. Don’t allow your own theory to keep you from remaining objective. You may miss vital evidence that points to the truth.

I have a strong sense of justice and protection, especially for the vulnerable. That is what makes my concern for victims of fraud so deeply personal. A fraudster enters your life with a smile, builds trust and then proceeds to take full advantage of that position with absolutely no regard for his victim. I’ve always loved the verse in the Bible that states, “Seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.” Somewhere in my twenties, I committed to living my life with that objective in mind. In the end, this is all that will matter.

I’m an avid tennis player. I would likely play every day if my body, commitments and the weather would allow it. I’m also nearly finished completing my Master of Divinity.

Dick Carozza, CFE, is editor-in-chief of Fraud Magazine. Contact him at dcarozza@ACFE.com.