I'm a CFE

Tasheika Hinson, CFE

Head of investigations at The Vanguard Group Inc.

When Tasheika Hinson, CFE, was 8 years old, she made a pact with her childhood friend that they’d grow up to become attorneys. “It was crazy!” she says. “I’d only met one attorney in my life and had no real idea what they did.” This one attorney, according to Hinson, was the first adult to ever look her in the eye, shake her hand and introduce themselves. “That seemingly minor interaction with an attorney left such an indelible mark on me.” Hinson would go on to become an assistant U.S. attorney at the Department of Justice and now is the head of investigations at The Vanguard Group Inc. where she leads internal investigations and partners with internal teams in its 19 offices around the world.

I come from a long line of New Yorkers! I was born and raised in New York City and Westchester County, and I spent my summers playing tag and handball until the streetlights came on.

Growing up I loved to read. I was a bookish kid, and I made fast friends with the librarian at the public library. One of my proudest accomplishments was when the librarian granted me adult library privileges because I was checking out too many books for the child card.

I was previously an assistant U.S. attorney (AUSA) at the Department of Justice, where I served as an investigator and litigator. I led investigations and prosecutions of federal criminal offenses in partnership with other federal law enforcement agencies like the FBI and DEA. I pursued justice on behalf of the citizens of the U.S. for such offenses as economic crime, fraud, money laundering, international drug trafficking and cybercrime.

The days of AUSAs are varied and may be spent drafting legal processes to obtain court authorized electronic surveillance (i.e., wiretaps, trackers, etc.), reviewing grand jury materials, conducting “proffers” (interviews with a defendant and their counsel regarding cooperation), providing legal and investigative guidance and strategy to a team of federal law enforcement officers, making charging decisions, and conducting pre-trial hearings, trials and/or drafting responses to legal challenges mounted by defendants.

As the head of investigations at The Vanguard Group, I lead and support internal investigations when there are allegations of violations of internal policies, law or other standards. I partner with internal teams across the enterprise to ensure that investigations are conducted with integrity and professionalism. Everything we do at Vanguard is in support of our core mission: “To take a stand for all investors, to treat them fairly, and to give them the best chance for investment success.”

My advice for those starting out in the fraud-fighting field is to stay open to learning new investigative techniques and methods. Every day, fraudsters are inventing new frauds and new ways to commit old frauds.

Early in my legal career I conducted internal investigations of corporations at the request of the board of directors at a large law firm that had offices scattered throughout the world. During one such investigation, I was onsite at the company’s office conducting employee interviews. The alleged misconduct, if true, amounted to significant violations of federal law that would imperil the company and its executives. Several federal agencies also were examining the company’s conduct and executives had been subpoenaed to testify before U.S. Congress. The investigation and interviews were going well.

During an interview I was conducting, federal law enforcement agents entered the office, executed a search warrant and quickly set up a mobile command unit outside of the office. The federal agents were consummate professionals and singularly focused on their investigation of my client. However, this experience gave me new insight and empathy for employees who experience law enforcement in this manner. I understood firsthand how intimidating that experience could be for employees, and I’m able to provide more thoughtful legal guidance as a result.

It’s always great to work with investigators who have the CFE credential because I know they have a core skill set and base of knowledge in fraud and investigations. I’m also excited to serve as a mentor in the ACFE’s mentorship program! Mentors have helped me so much during my career. Their experiences can provide powerful insight and support to mentees for professional goals, career decisions, and encouragement and guidance. I hope I can do the same.

My advice for those starting out in the fraud-fighting field is to stay open to learning new investigative techniques and methods. Every day, fraudsters are inventing new frauds and new ways to commit old frauds. Also, in interviews — even when you think you know an answer — ask the question and then the follow-up. And then ask the initial question again if you don’t get an answer. You might be surprised what you discover.

I enjoy boating in the Caribbean, swimming in the ocean and traveling the world with only a carry-on bag. I celebrate each day that I complete The New York Times mini-crossword in less than one minute.

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