Interviewing Witnesses and Suspects


Selected by Jacob Parks, J.D., CFE
ACFE Associate General Counsel

The ACFE Bookstore offers hundreds of resources including books and manuals, self-study CPE courses, the CFE Exam Prep Course, merchandise and more. In this interview, ACFE Associate General Counsel Jacob Parks, J.D., CFE, offers his suggestion on one must-have ACFE resource to help you in your fight against fraud.

What is your professional background and current role at the ACFE?
I started in the ACFE Research Department almost six years ago, where I focused on course review and development, especially with our materials involving legal issues. Since then, I moved to the role of Associate General Counsel, where my role is to provide day-to-day legal advice for staff and help ensure compliance with applicable laws.

Why would CFEs be interested in the online self-study, Interviewing Witnesses and Suspects?
This self-study course offers a step-by-step overview of interviewing witnesses and fraud suspects, which is beneficial both for those with little to no experience interviewing, as well as seasoned veterans who would like to enhance their interview style. The course focuses on improving the types of questions fraud examiners ask during an interview, how to react to different behaviors of the subject and obtaining the cooperation of the subject.

How is the information in this product useful for CFEs in their professional roles?
I think interviewing is one of the most difficult skills to master in fraud examination because there are so many ways that an interview can go poorly. Unlike some errors that can be revised, such as a typo in a report draft, the harm from mistakes made during an interview might be immediate and irreversible.

One improper question could violate the rights of the interview subject, while another poorly worded question concerning a sensitive topic might cause the subject to be less cooperative. Every interview opportunity — especially with the subject of an investigation — could be the last chance available, so it is important to enter the interview knowing what information is needed and the best ways to get it. This course lays out what the procedural and psychological obstacles are to obtaining that information, and how to maneuver around them.

Read more about Interviewing Witnesses and Suspects.