The Right Tools for a Fraud Examination: Do you have a 'fraud response' bag?


Stephen Pedneault, CFE, CPA, CFF

In any trade, a technician needs the right tools for a job. Knowledge built upon education, training and experience provides the needed skills. But without the right tools, a technician can only conceptualize the job at hand.

For example, an electrician completes specialized schooling, works as an apprentice, passes exams and ultimately obtains a license — all while working in the trade to gain experience.

However, the two most decisive factors that directly influence the electrician's successful career will be: 1) the ability to determine the best electrical solution for each situation, and 2) the tools within his toolbox. Without a voltmeter, cordless drill, wire cutters and other tools, the electrician can't start — let alone finish — the job.


Of course, a fraud examiner also can't complete an examination without the right tools.

An accounting firm once called my office with a potential issue involving one of their clients — a local distributor of products to global customers. We immediately arranged a meeting for that afternoon.

I thought about the skills and tools I would bring to the discussion — even though I wouldn't need them right away — to ensure my office could react to the potential client issue. From the little I gleaned from the call, the potential matter involved an employee who held a financial position with the company.

I expected to encounter some type of theft, abuse or embezzlement. So, I prepared my usual basic toolbox (actually a briefcase), which includes a tablet computer with applications for taking notes and recording the meeting in audio and video. I also bring a spiral-bound notebook in case the tablet malfunctions.

I also always carry in my car a "fraud response" bag — an oversized briefcase containing miscellaneous items dedicated to fraud examinations. It contains the tools I need to safeguard and collect physical and electronic evidence: evidence bags, "evidence" tape to seal boxes or cabinets, static bags, USB jump drives, evidence markers and a digital camera. Because I never know when I'll receive my next fraud case or where I'll be when it does I always carry the bag.

Of course, no single fraud examiner possesses every hypothetical skill and tool needed to resolve a client matter. We must possess the ability to know what else we'll need and how to get other qualified individuals involved, such as:

  • Computer forensic experts.
  • Handwriting experts.
  • Surveillance and personal protection specialists.
  • Translators.

Most of these associates and I possess a similar mindset, and they're ready to respond to my call for help.

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