When White-Collar Turns Red, Part Two

The CFE's Role in Trapping the Red-Collar Criminal

By Frank S. Perri, J.D., MBA, CFE, CPA; and Terrance G. Lichtenwald, Ph.D.

Interviewing a psychopath is a battle of wits. But armed with a non-traditional strategy, a trained CFE can outmaneuver even the cleverest criminal.

This article concludes a two-part series devoted to the study of a classification of lawbreaker called red-collar criminals. The first article in the May/June 2007 described a sub-group of psychopathic white-collar criminals who are capable of vicious and brutal violence against individuals whom they believe have detected their fraud crimes. The article underscored the importance of including CFEs as part of a homicide investigation team especially in uncovering a murder motivated by fraud and in shaping the interviewing process.

Red-collar criminals are not as smart as they think they are. They have plenty of weaknesses that fraud examiners can exploit when called in to help investigate their crimes. We set out in our study to determine whether red-collar criminals were capable of committing violence against their victims without exposing both their white-collar and violent crimes.

[As part of the study, co-author Frank Perri cataloged the details of 15 homicide cases involving fraud. See Perri’s Red-Collar Crime Matrix, which originally appeared in part one of this article in the May/June 2007 issue. The matrix presents the pattern and characteristics of white-collar criminals who murdered to hide their fraud crimes and thus became red-collar criminals.]

The CFE must realize that just knowing the characteristics of a psychopath isn’t enough to guarantee identification of a psychopath; it’s not uncommon for psychopaths to be able to fool well-trained interviewers. CFEs must be aware of the interview techniques to use with red-collar criminals as compared to those they use with non-violent, white-collar criminals. By understanding the unique behavioral traits of a red-collar criminal, the CFE can plan an effective interview. We offer suggestions to accomplish this by discussing some of the traits and how interviewers can assess if they are in fact in the presence of a true psychopath.

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