I'm a CFE

Priti Amin, CFE

Vodafone Business fraud manager at Vodafone Group

When Priti Amin, CFE, was young she knew she wanted to do something that helped others because honesty, trust and personal integrity were important to her. Those values compelled Amin in her journey to fight fraud. Within Vodafone Group, a global technology communications organization, Amin is the Vodafone Business fraud manager. She’s responsible for managing fraud risks for the entity, its products, services and customers.

I was born in the city of Mbarara in the western region of Uganda. My family came to the U.K. when I was about two or three years old as part of the expulsion of British Asians by the then President Idi Amin (no relation, I might add!) and settled in the city of Leicester where I grew up.

I spent a lot of time outdoors when growing up, playing with other kids, usually on our bikes or tennis. I also enjoyed reading and was always — and still am — into crime and thriller books.

When I was little, I wanted to be a nurse but discovered early on that I didn’t really get on with sciences! At the very basic level, I knew I wanted to do something that helped others. Honesty, trust and personal integrity are values I have held in high regard from a young age.

Previously, I worked in consulting for around 14 years, initially progressing through the internal audit profession and subsequently branching off into fraud investigations and management. I managed and led on a portfolio of clients delivering both proactive and reactive fraud services, reporting to the CFOs and, ultimately, the audit and risk committees.

In my current role, within a global technology communications organization, I lead on delivering fraud management activities, specifically for the enterprise part of the business. I am responsible for managing the fraud risks to this entity, its products, services and customers. I have led on developing and driving a fraud management program. My team and I deliver fraud risk assessments across the entity, which inevitably means managing stakeholders at operational and executive levels.

We support local markets and business functions across the globe in managing all significant fraud incidents affecting our business customers, and we work closely with our investigations team.

My interest in fraud was sparked at a very early stage in my career. As a junior internal audit assistant in a local government body, I was regularly asked to help with the legwork of investigations. My first involvement really opened my eyes to how creative some people can get when they put their minds to it!

The more I became involved, the more I wanted to know. I was intrigued about different types of frauds, what had allowed the frauds to happen, what motivated people to commit fraud and how they avoided detection.

When I moved to consulting, I was keen to develop myself further in the fraud field and was lucky enough to join the fraud investigations team, even though my primary role was in internal audit.

One of my earlier cases, upon winning a new health client, involved a member of the public using fraudulent identities to register at various medical practices to obtain prescription painkillers — controlled drugs — fraudulently.

The individual had been doing this for several years. Previous investigations through other third parties had not been successful. I worked extensively with the local controlled-drugs liaison officer, the U.K. border agency and several medical practices in the region where the individual had registered, to gather evidence of the timeline of the fraud, the types of controlled drugs they were obtaining and following various lines of enquiries.

A pattern started to emerge concerning their behavior and the methods utilized. While they had used various identities, they had used the same address. The case involved accessing medical records through the correct protocols, plus obtaining witness interviews from the medical practices, doctors and pharmacists to piece together the quantity that had been obtained and the cost to the health authority.

My client took the decision to prosecute and was successful. In court, I felt sorry for the individual. Even though they came from a large family, not one of them was in court. The individual had become dependent on drugs and committed the fraud for personal usage; desperation had led to creativity in how they got hold of them.

I first heard of the ACFE back in 2007. I became an associate member because I wanted to broaden my knowledge and skill set in fraud, and I took advantage of the ACFE’s wealth of information and resources. It offered an opportunity to expand my network and connect with like-minded individuals across the globe. I also joined the ACFE U.K. Chapter and attended various conferences and training events. In 2015, I committed to achieving the CFE credential by that summer, which I did.

The CFE has broadened my knowledge and built upon my experience in the fraud arena. It has provided me with new tools and methodology for conducting proactive fraud management activities such as fraud risk assessments, using data to detect financial statement fraud, enhancing my interview skills and using the correct inflection during interviews. It has made a difference because of its international context and being able to connect with fraud professionals who share the same passion to fight fraud.

My advice for fraud examiners is you must think like a fraudster to prevent and investigate frauds. Trust your instincts and intuition in investigations. To focus on the evidence and the facts, and always, always follow the money. In interviews, listen more than you speak and just as importantly, observe.

In non-investigative interviews — such as fraud process reviews — be tenacious and keep asking for clarification if you don’t understand the information being communicated.

Never underestimate the importance of effective internal controls in fraud prevention.

Learn from each case and experience whether that means enhancing or honing a particular strength or learning what may have worked better. I believe all feedback is a gift; it allows us the opportunity to improve ourselves further but can also provide recognition of any positive contribution, which can drive encouragement and motivation.

My family is my greatest achievement. Without their support and understanding, I most definitely would not have been able to progress in my career. Fraud investigations are demanding and time-consuming at the best of times. Balancing this with professional studies, travel and three kids needs special people to support and stand by you.

I enjoy long walks; they give me time to switch off and take in the natural surroundings, which we don’t always appreciate. I also like to socialize with friends and family.

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