Is Fraud Investigation Right For You?


Kathy Lavinder
Owner and Executive Director of Security & Investigative Placement Consultants

Self-awareness is an often over-looked success indicator. Two recent conversations brought this to mind: 

  • An investigator expressed unhappiness doing phone interviews. It makes her uncomfortable and, as a result, she usually stumbles through interviews and tries to avoid doing them.
  • A career law enforcement investigator with years of experience professed a desire to “train the next generation” and to move away from day-to-day case management.

Do you know where you should be focusing your career? Fraud investigation is hard work, and it’s not for everyone.  Here are some realities:

  • You will have to be able to ask really uncomfortable questions, put others in awkward positions and refuse to accept pat answers.  When you’re in the midst of an intense investigation, it’s likely your blood pressure will go up and almost certain that the same thing will happen to your target – should he or she be aware of the investigation. Are you okay with that?
  • Don’t expect people to like you. After all, you’re the person who, by definition, has to take a long, hard look at things. Many of these “things” could be issues and concerns that your employer doesn’t even want to know about. Are you the right person to do that?
  • You will have to be persistent, even a bit obsessive at times. There will be roadblocks, diversions, prevaricators and delays in your path. Are you driven to see things through to completion?
  • You will go down blind alleys, dig holes that are dry wells and perhaps even shine a bright spotlight on someone who is completely innocent. Mistakes happen, and people can mislead, sometimes intentionally, sometimes not.  Can you live with the consequences?
  • It may sound like fun, until you do it. If it turns out that it’s not your passion or your calling, can you admit to that? 

If you’ve been tapped to do a job you don’t love or think you’ve been miscast, it’s time to speak up. You will do yourself and your employer a favor.  If you’re asked to do something that is contrary to your nature, accept that it’s not working and help your supervisors to see that. Just be sure to have at the ready some concrete ideas of how you can add value in other areas. Be prepared to demonstrate your appreciation for an employer’s willingness to work with you and find a role that is a better fit. That will mean redoubling your commitment and demonstrating your dedication every day. 

There are supporting roles in fraud investigation that may still be suitable – data analytics, for instance.  You may prefer to work on the front end – fraud prevention or detection –  and leave the investigations to your colleagues. Just be sure to play to your true strengths.