Rick Belik, CFE
Detective, Omaha Police Department
For Rick Belik, CFE, Omaha Police Department Detective and part-time Task Force Officer for the FBI's White Collar Crime Task Force, fraud is often very personal. Belik, who was awarded the ACFE Outstanding Achievement in Community Service Award in 2015, has dealt with numerous cases of elder fraud. In addition to tackling cases that come across his desk, he is proactive about fraud education in his community. He has held numerous talks and seminars for senior citizens and caregivers to discuss common scams that target the elderly and how they can protect themselves from fraud.
How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?
I became passionate about fighting fraud by talking to the victims. These are true victims and fraud crimes affect much more than just a financial loss. There is a true, real or perceived, loss of security, safety and trust in the world around them, especially with senior victims.
What steps led you to your current position?
I started out in a cruiser like every other cop and then I joined our Mounted Patrol and did that for six years. When my 1,200-pound partner (horse) retired, I moved into investigations. Always being a bit of a "numbers nerd," the “Fraud Squad” was a perfect fit for me — I expressed an interest in the unit two years before I was assigned to it and I have been in that position for seven years. This year I have also become a part-time Task Force Officer (TFO) for the FBI's White Collar Crime Task Force.
The part-time TFO job was the idea of the local FBI supervisor, who is also an ACFE member. We got to know each other through Heartland Chapter events. We discussed cases that we’d both worked and discovered that we were definitely chewing some of the same dirt. There are jurisdictional issues that come up with being a cop in a municipality. Having a federal deputation can certainly broaden my approach. It has also helped find cases that might have otherwise "fallen through the cracks" in the system where both sides, federal and local, might think that the other is working on a particular case.
What is a memorable case or project that you have worked on; one that made you feel especially proud?
I work all of the financial exploitation cases involving vulnerable adults in Omaha. When paid caregivers steal from the people whom they are charged with helping, it really gets my dander up. I've worked several of these cases and, along with the partnership of Adult Protective Services (APS) and the County Attorney's Office, we have been able to bring suspects to justice, stop the financial bleeding and get the victims proper care and protection. This has been very satisfying.
I had one case where an elderly widow, living alone, was targeted by a man who knocked on her door and claimed to be a friend of her late husband's. This guy got into her head over a period of time, telling her that she was in danger from gang members and that she had to "pay them off" for protection through him. Over a short period of time, several thousands of dollars were depleted from her account. Bank employees became suspicious and alerted both APS and Law Enforcement. We were able to put a case together and get this guy convicted for robbery/extortion for the threats that he made to the victim. I drove her to the courthouse for the sentencing because she wanted to show the suspect that, in the end, he didn't get the best of her. It was an exhausting trip for her because she didn't move around too well, but it was important for her. I was humbled by her strength and proud to help her through it.
How do you think CFEs can help their communities better understand fraud risks and prevention?
In 2015, I was honored to receive the ACFE Outstanding Achievement in Community Service Award at the 26th Annual ACFE Global Fraud Conference in Baltimore. I've given dozens of talks about fraud to thousands of seniors and caregivers, informing them of what fraud and scam trends are out there. I’ve advised them of what warning signs they can look for, and what steps they can take, to make themselves and their loved ones less of a target. The ACFE has a broad range of fraud fighters with a vast range of knowledge. Getting that knowledge and experience out to the community does real and measurable good.
What activities or hobbies do you like to do outside of work?
My wife and I love to travel. If we can go somewhere different and experience something new, we're in!
Read more about Detective Belik in his full profile on ACFE.com.