The complexity of fraud investigations oftentimes fuels emotions and makes the investigative process increasingly difficult for the investigator. The ever changing flow of information causes frequent direction changes in the inquiry and the multiple objectives to be accomplished.
These dynamics make the planning process most critical before the investigation begins. The 3 C’s of investigative management that were discussed in our last submission, namely – Competence, Corroboration, and Common Sense, are important concepts to follow throughout the life of an investigation. However, a formal investigative plan should be developed prior to any inquiry beginning. This critical step must concentrate on developing an investigative plan that is formal enough to give the investigation structure but flexible enough to allow a change in direction depending on the information received.
While the specific type of investigation will mandate which tasks should be performed, there are several common steps to all investigations. The following is an investigative plan that can be used as an general overlay and customized with the specific tasks needed for your inquiry.
1. Verify the Occurrence
a. Is the report a result of rumors?
b. Could there be more to the story?
c. Is there any physical evidence of the incident?
d. Is this possible?
2. Alleged Violation
a. What exactly occurred?
b. Does the report fit the allegation or is it another offense?
3. Elements of the Violation
a. What are the elements needed to establish the violation?
c. Policy violations
d. Procedural violations
e. Administrative violations
4. Identify the Targets of the Investigation
a. Is the suspect known?
b. Is more than one suspect involved?
5. Assign the Appropriate Investigator
a. Is there any improper relationship or conflict of interest?
b. Is there any known bias?
c. Should outside personnel or resources be involved?
6. Conduct Interview/Collect Facts
a. Ensure confidentiality of the process
b. Maintain integrity of evidence and the investigation
7. Review Information and Verify
a. Compare information
b. Identify gaps and inconsistencies
a. Restrict dissemination
b. Treat all documentation as if it will be used for litigation
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.