Investigator Dives Deep Into Digital Data & Information


Tyson Johnson, CFE, CPP
VP, Business Development, BrightPlanet  
Oakville, Ontario, Canada

Before even graduating from college, Tyson Johnson, CFE, CPP, VP of Business Development at BrightPlanet in Ontario, had spent hundreds of hours conducting surveillance, performing interviews, writing reports, conducting undercover investigations, and even testifying in court. Johnson says that his passion for fighting fraud is something that has always been in him. “I spent my summers and free time between studies working as a private investigator, cutting my teeth on suspect personal injury claimants for insurance firms,” Johnson said. “It started early in my life and has simply become part of who I am.”

What steps led you to your current position?  

I have always been passionate about 'intelligence' and its ability to help nations, companies and individuals to make better decisions by identifying risks and opportunities. While in university, I knew I wanted to enter the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS). I was fortunate to be selected by CSIS, and I enjoyed my time with that organization. It was during my years as an Intelligence Officer that I obtained my CFE credential and also became aware of BrightPlanet. After departing CSIS I held progressively more senior risk management roles, starting with a global bank, and then two global manufacturing firms, before having the opportunity to join BrightPlanet.

Did you always plan to pursue the role you are currently in?  

Actually, yes. For the past decade I have used BrightPlanet's services. I began speaking with their leadership five years ago and stated that should they ever wish to move its business into the mainstream (diversify away from government contracts) I would be interested. The phone call happened about six months ago, and the rest is history. I am very excited to help my fellow CFEs with their online anti-fraud objectives.

How do you think online investigations have changed in the last five years?  

Online investigations have changed and will continue to change as fast as the technology changes. Years ago, I remember conducting an investigation and obtaining an Anton Pillar (civil search order) to collect digital data devices for forensic review. That amounted to one desktop computer, one thumb drive and diskettes. Today, anyone looking to collect digital data will need to deal with laptops, smart phones, thumb drives, MP3 players, SD cards, DropBox accounts, Gmail accounts and social media profiles, all while ensuring privacy laws, data ownership issues and other legal issues are properly dealt with. Not to mention the difficulties we face with Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategies at the workplace. This happens when personal devices are used to access the Internet within a secure environment and employees have access to confidential information.

What career advice do you have for those just starting out in the fraud-fighting field?  

Become rooted in the fundamentals of fraud investigation, but remain innovative and open to embracing changes in the legal and technological landscapes. Find a good mentor and listen to their counsel. Become a lifelong learner in fighting fraud, and take pride in your work.

Read Tyson's full profile in the Career Center on