The complexity of fraud investigations mandates that a thorough and methodical approach is implemented throughout the inquiry. Availability of technology can facilitate elaborate financial schemes and make the process of planning the investigation extremely important. Ever changing environments require that a financial investigator must continually hone his or her skills to be on top of their game.
However, no matter how complex or simple an inquiry may be, there are some basic commonalities that must be remembered. As we undertake a new investigation, we must always remember the 3 C’s of investigative management:
3. Common Sense
Competence – This facet involves understanding the area of inquiry and the types of information sought so that we can assign professionals with the right skill sets to the investigation. This is not meant to focus on whether a specific individual is competent to undertake the inquiry, but rather to conduct a thorough analysis of the potential issues involved so a determination can be made as to what additional skill sets and resources are needed to obtain the information that is sought. Is forensic expertise required? Is there a software solution that can help to simplify the analysis? Are interviewing skills necessary, or is this just a financial analysis?
Corroboration – During any investigation, applying professional skepticism is a valued skill. No information should be taken at face value. All facts should be checked, reviewed, and verified. Many financial investigators will agree that there are only a few things more embarrassing than the uncovering of contradictory facts after an investigator has reached their conclusion of a case. A fraud investigator must identify deficiencies, gaps and weaknesses in the information and close the circle to ensure that he or she is using the best information available in the analysis. Are there additional people to be interviewed? Is there documentary evidence that should verify a witness account? What factors may cause a witness to slant his or her account to lead the investigation in a certain direction? What is the source of the documentary evidence that has been obtained? Are there more authoritative sources of information that may verify or refute the findings or witness accounts? Do you feel confident to testify as to your findings of the case?
Common Sense -- Lastly, this most important element is the all too forgotten piece that must be practiced throughout the investigative process. Do the allegations, witness accounts and evidence make sense? Is the fact pattern possible? Is there conflicting evidence? What would cause the fraud suspect to commit the alleged act?
Next Blog: Developing a Basic Investigative Plan
Frank E. Rudewicz serves as Principal and Counsel of Marcum LLP and heads the Forensic, Investigative and Valuation Advisory practice for the New England area. He has more than 26 years experience conducting domestic and international investigations for anti-trust/anti-competitive issues, harassment, fraud, ethics and other employment related conduct.