On Point: Refine your skills as a presenter and communicator


Paul Homoly, PSP

I bet we would agree that it’s never been more difficult to hold people’s attention than it is now. Text messages, email, voice mail, social media — they all compete for listeners’ attention.

It’s been my experience that experts in fields with complex issues such as finance, law, health care and fraud investigation say they’re frustrated when the people they’re trying to inform and influence don’t listen, don’t “get it,” or resist the need to take action on their expert advice and opinions.

Many fraud examiners believe the completeness and accuracy of their fraud examination findings are the keys to their influence. Unfortunately, a blind spot exists for many fraud examiners: being interesting and influential is the experience of the listener. No matter how complete your fraud investigation findings are, if they aren’t communicated in a way that’s interesting and influential to the listener, your findings are not interesting or influential.

Interesting and Influential Fraud Examination Reports

What constitutes an interesting and influential fraud report? Let’s assume your technical findings are accurate and complete. When you present your findings to your listeners, the next step is to support your findings with a process called The Leader’s Pyramid. The Leader’s Pyramid is the process of making content-intensive presentations both interesting and influential.

Build interest and influence from the base of the pyramid and work your way up. Begin by establishing a connection. Connection is about relationship. If you want people to follow you, they need to know who they’re following. Give your listeners a personal experience. You can do this by sustaining one-on-one eye contact (talk to one person at a time; don’t scan the audience while you speak). Disclose a bit of your role as a spouse or parent. Tell a story from your childhood. Make disclosures brief (a minute or less) and link them metaphorically to your topic. You’ll be amazed at how influential a short interval of disclosure is.

Next is movement. Movement is about confidence. When you stand to deliver your fraud investigation findings, keep movement to a minimum. Don’t pace back and forth. Pacing reveals a lack of confidence and nerves.

Plus, it interferes with your train of thought. Instead, use simple body rotations with one- to two-step movements, at most. Movement will do more to hurt you than help you — the less movement, the better.

Finally, there’s dynamics. Dynamics is about energy. Dynamics is the sound of your voice — tone, volume, pitch and rhythm. Dynamics is the best speaking tool you have to earn and hold listeners’ attention. Use voice dynamics immediately before and during critical content points of your presentation to distinguish the information in the minds of your listeners. Pique listener interest immediately before you make key points. This way they’re listening when you’re at your best.

Using personal connection, appropriate movement, and a variety of voice dynamics to earn listener interest and exert your influence won’t interfere with your credibility.

No one has ever lost credibility by being interesting.

You can hear Paul talk about these skills and more in his upcoming seminar, Presentation Skills for Fraud Examiners, July 15 in Nashville, Tennessee, or November 4 in Washington, D.C. View a full list of our upcoming events and products in the latest ACFE Resource Guide

Entrepreneur Raises Fraud Awareness in India


Apurva Joshi, CFE, is the founder and CEO of Fraudexpress, based in Solapur, India. Joshi created Fraudexpress as a digital media company to help increase fraud awareness, and provide news, views, training and other services for anti-fraud professionals. For her work as a fraud fighter and entrepreneur, she was recently featured in a book by bestselling author Rashmi Bansal.

What inspired you to start Fraudexpress?
I founded Fraudexpress at a time when India was witnessing some of the biggest scams in its history. These scams were quantified to the tune of 15-20 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). There was a big movement in India against corruption at different levels. Politicians were fighting in the Parliament, people were agitated and the media was covering their efforts. Everyone wanted to protect public money. But none of the anti-corruption crusaders were talking about strengthening our youth in India.

Fraudexpress was started with the objective of equipping Indian students with anti-fraud tools and training. Initially we created campaigns to create awareness about insurance frauds, banking frauds and others on social media; then we published newsletters and books. Today there are 11 titles published by Fraudexpress that address frauds in India. 

You were featured in the book Arise, Awake: The Inspiring Stories of Young Entrepreneurs Who Graduated from College Into a Business of Their Own by renowned author Rashmi Bansal. How did Ms. Bansal come to find you and include you in her book?
Ms. Bansal and I are connected through social media platforms. When she proposed to write her next book on the theme of young entrepreneurs, I gave her a brief of my work through email. Out of thousands of replies she chose to write about my journey as a forensic accountant and a female entrepreneur. 

You recently mentioned that fraud is still a taboo subject. How do books like Arise, Awake help provide more awareness of what anti-fraud professionals are doing to prevent and detect fraud?
Ms. Bansal explains business in very simple words. Fraud is a taboo subject, very few like to talk about it – at least in India. Youths shy away from this domain. But when an author like Ms. Bansal, who is popular among young readers, writes about anti-fraud efforts, it becomes an endorsement of our work. Ms. Bansal’s books sell millions of copies, so when a story about anti-fraud efforts is explained to millions, to youths and in layman’s language, it encourages students to take up fraud fighting as a career option.

During your career, you have also worked as a research analyst. How did your research skills serve you in the anti-fraud profession?
Our research is always aimed at quantification. Also, I have always supported numerous research projects, including studies on insurance fraud and corruption. In India, our research papers are considered benchmarks for academics and are often quoted.

What advice do you have for other fraud examiners who would follow in your footsteps?
I would always recommend earning a global certification like the CFE, apart from local accreditations (like CFAP or CBFA). I also recommend investing in technological solutions that enhance their efforts and provide added insight.

Read Joshi's full interview on ACFE.com.

Fraudsters Exploit Weakness in Apple Pay


Mark Scott, J.D., CFE
ACFE Research Specialist

Most of us carry around smartphones that are more intelligent than we are. And for many of us, our smartphones permeate almost all aspects of our lives. We use smartphones in place of watches, alarm clocks, maps, music players, and it seems that very soon, we will use them to replace cash and credit cards.

Unfortunately, because criminals are adept at identifying and exploiting the weak links in new technologies, the ever-expanding capabilities of smartphones have created new avenues for fraud.

Consider the recent news about the high rates of fraud in Apple Pay, Apple’s mobile electronic payment system that launched in October 2014. Apple Pay was meant to improve credit card security, but according to some reports, the new service makes it easier for criminals to commit credit card fraud.

But, it’s important to note that the Apple Pay “fraud problem” has nothing to do with security flaws in the Apple Pay mobile transaction protocol — the Apple Pay mobile-payment system itself hasn’t been hacked. Instead, fraudsters are using Apple Pay as a vehicle to make fraudulent purchases with stolen credit cards by exploiting weaknesses in the bank-side process used to approve new credit cards loaded into Apple Pay.

Before credit card data can be used for Apple Pay transactions, the bank that issued the card must verify that it’s valid and is being used by the appropriate person. Unfortunately, there are some credit card issuers with weak verification processes for the Apple Pay mobile-payment system; of course, the fraudsters focus their efforts on exploiting such weaknesses. 

What happens is a form of account takeover in which the fraudsters load already stolen credit card data into the Apple Pay platform, allowing them to create a fraudulent digital credit card that they can use to make fraudulent purchases in brick-and-mortar stores.

The fact that Apple Pay provides criminals a means through which they can use stolen card data to commit fraud in brick-and-mortar stores is a development that concerns online security expert Brian Krebs: “Apple Pay makes it possible for cyber thieves to buy high-priced merchandise from brick-and-mortar stores using stolen credit and debit card numbers that were heretofore only useful for online fraud.”

This situation highlights the creativity and inventiveness of fraudsters. While Apple Pay was touted as a safer alternative to credit cards and perhaps the most secure method of payment available, enterprising criminals took little time to identify and exploit the security weakness in this emerging technology for financial gain. 

It also points to the risks in placing too much reliance on new and unproven technologies, and illustrates the old adage that security is only as strong as the weakest link. In a world where we’re more digitally connected than ever before, speed is essential, but moving impetuously can be unsafe.