Fraud Basics

Character traits of the effective fraud examiner

Fraud examination is often challenging work, which involves various investigative skills. Be more successful in your engagements by focusing on these four traits that are shared by effective fraud examiners.

In season two of HBO’s “The Sopranos,” a group of FBI agents ring the doorbell of Mafia boss Tony Soprano’s elegant New Jersey residence. “Tony Soprano, we have a warrant to search your house, property and family vehicle,” declares Supervising Special Agent-in-Charge Dwight Harris.

Harris tells Soprano they’ve been seeking stolen airline tickets. The alleged theft constitutes mail fraud, wire fraud and many other federal violations. Soprano asks for a warrant. Harris shows him the warrant and the stolen airline tickets that he’d already discovered in Soprano’s SUV. The agents then calmly place Soprano under arrest and begin to search the house.

The scene is a master class in how to execute an investigation. The FBI agents clearly did their homework. They were familiar with the nature of their suspect and the case, and they conducted as much groundwork as possible before confronting Soprano at his home.

They coordinated with the prosecutor and judge. They were well-versed in the relevant statutes and were prepared to be challenged. They obtained the stolen tickets before they rang the bell. They took the time and expended the necessary effort to ensure that the raid and arrest went as smoothly as possible. They embodied four characteristics of the effective fraud examiner: communication, organization, preparation and determination.

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