Using Social Media to Give You an Edge in Investigations

LIVE FROM THE ACFE GLOBAL FRAUD CONFERENCE

A quick search on my social media networks would tell you where I work, who my family members are, where I went to college and who my 5 year-old claims to be her “boyfriend.” Yes, social media is full of seemingly useless information like cat memes and time-lapsed cooking videos. But, what if all of those small, meaningless pieces of information added up to something bigger? According to Diana Ngo, those “crumbs” can each or all lead to that competitive edge you need when working on a fraud examination. “Social media gives me that competitive edge in investigations,” Ngo said. “It gives you a crumb that you can follow.”

Ngo is an Associate Director at Blackpeak Group, where she manages complex reputational and investigative enhanced due diligence projects. She also led the breakout session at the 28th Annual ACFE Global Fraud Conference titled, “Using Social Media for Investigative Purposes” where she highlighted the following ways you can use social media in your investigations:

  • Source of wealth research for on-boarding clients
  • Asset identification research for asset-seizing court orders
  • Whistleblower investigations for employees having undisclosed interests via family members
  • Investigating misrepresented personal or business relationships

According to Ngo, law enforcement uses social media for 80 percent of its investigations. While there may seem like an endless list of sites to consider, she highlighted the top areas of coverage to pay specific attention to:

  • WeChat: China’s Facebook. Best for finding sources. Pro Tip: You can use keyword searches for all public accounts.
  • Weibo: China’s Twitter. Pro Tip: Look at followers of a person and the people they follow for connections.
  • Instagram: A photo-sharing network. Fastest-growing application with most active users 18-29 years old. It is extremely popular in the Philippines and Singapore. Pro Tip: Every single photo has a timeline, so you can build timelines around posts.
  • Facebook: Members have the most active internet users. Pay close attention to the privacy settings: they are complicated and change frequently. Pro Tip: Use their strong search engine. You can search down to “men who went to the UCLA, live in New York and work at Deloitte.”
  • LinkedIn: Professional networking site. Made up of more males than females, people of higher incomes and higher education levels. Pro Tip: You can change the settings on your account to search anonymously.

Ngo reminded attendees to not solely rely on the information you find while scrolling and searching. According to Ngo, you still have to confirm everything you find because social media is managed by individuals. And those individuals, like us, want to represent themselves in the best way possible online. I mean, no one is going to post a video of themselves with piles of jewels and brag about a crime they committed, right?

4 Ways to Make the Most of Your ACFE Global Fraud Conference

GUEST BLOGGER

John Loftis, CFE
ACFE Events Marketing Manager

I won't be able to attend the 28th Annual ACFE Global Fraud Conference this year because of the upcoming (hopefully soon) birth of my first child. This will be the first conference I will miss since attending my very first one in 2006. But that doesn't mean I can't help YOU prepare for the largest gathering of anti-fraud professionals in the world. Below are some of the events and opportunities that I know you will not want to miss out on. 

Register to See the Charlie Daniels Band
Join the ACFE Middle Tennessee Chapter and country music legends, the Charlie Daniels Band, at historic Ryman Auditorium for an unforgettable conference experience. All proceeds from this concert will benefit the ACFE Foundation. Visit FraudConference.com/28th-concert for details.

Download the Conference App
The ACFE 2017 Conference App is your on-the-go guide to the 28th Annual ACFE Global Fraud Conference. Use the Conference App to:

  • Report your CPE credit real-time
  • Access your custom schedule
  • Navigate the Exhibit Hall
  • Complete session evaluations

The app is available from the App Store for iPhone® and iPad®, from the Google Play Store for Android™ devices and as a mobile website for other web-enabled devices. Learn more about the Conference App.

Check Out the Career Connection
Find answers to your professional questions during a private coaching session with a leading career strategist. Career Coaching (50 minutes, $50), Myers-Briggs Type Indicator sessions (50 minutes, $50), and Résumé or LinkedIn Profile Review sessions (30 minutes, $30) may be booked in advance. Learn more and schedule a session.

Sign Up for the Virtual Conference
Purchase the Virtual Conference Add-On package to receive access to video recordings of all Main Conference sessions after the conference. This option allows you to watch sessions you missed or revisit your favorites for year-round learning from the convenience of your home or office. Purchase the Virtual Conference Add-On package.

I will be following all of you along your event journey on our social media networks and I look forward to hearing how these events, and the conference in general, goes! Here is to another amazing year!

3 Unfiltered Networking Tips

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AUTHOR’S POST

Mandy Moody, CFE
ACFE Content Manager

Almost seven years ago, I attended my first ACFE Global Fraud Conference after working at the ACFE for one week. To say I was nervous would be a gross understatement. I am typically a very outgoing person (some would say too outgoing with my opinions), but when I am in a group of people I don’t know or am somewhat intimidated by, I curl up in a tiny ball like a roly poly. I was determined to not let my default ways get the best of me, and I knew that my new role at the ACFE would be tested by the way I handled myself in group settings. So, with weak knees and some self-made confidence, I stepped off the plane in Washington, D.C. to face the beast that is the largest anti-fraud conference in the world.

Here is what I learned:

  1. Do your prep work. If you’re an ACFE member, once you register for the conference, you’ll be added to the ACFE Community’s conference group. If you aren’t a member yet, you can join the ACFE's LinkedIn group. Use one of both of these groups to begin scoping out who will be at the conference. It is okay to stalk for professional contacts and future best friends. It's not creepy when it could help you solve a case one day.
  2. Dress for success, and by success I mean a parka and memory foam slippers. No really, it gets cold in convention centers and you need to be comfortable. Bring a jacket or sweater, and wear comfortable shoes that will support you walking, standing and sitting. Also, there will be cameras and you will be meeting tons of new people, so look like you are at least a little bit famous. Not too famous, but kind of famous. Think Donny Walberg or Paula Abdul. 
  3. Take a step outside of your comfort zone. If you prefer face-to-face networking, try out the mobile app (coming soon!) to connect with someone from your city or industry. If you only prefer to meet people online, take a deep breath, pop an Altoid in your mouth and go to an in-person event. You have nothing to lose, except those few hours of Seinfeld reruns you thought about watching in your hotel room. And, trust me, those episodes will be on again. Here are just a few of the in-person networking events you can try out:
    • First-Time Attendee and New Member Reception: Sunday, June 18 from 6-6:45 p.m.
    • Women’s Networking Reception: Sunday, June 18 from 5:30-7 p.m.
    • Welcome Reception: Sunday, June 18 from 7-9 p.m.
    • Industry-specific tables at all General Sessions: June 19-21
    • Attendee Networking Reception: Tuesday, June 20 from 5-6 p.m.
    • Nashville Chapter Networking Event: Tuesday evening (more details coming soon)

The list above is only a few of the ways you can network with other attendees at the ACFE Global Fraud Conference. Visit FraudConference.com for more information and to plan your conference.

Episode Notes for Fraud Talk Podcast: Mailing Madoff

GUEST BLOGGER

Sarah Hofmann
ACFE Public Information Officer

When you think of pen pals, you usually think of kids staying in touch after friendships forged at summer camp. In stark contrast of that sunny scene, for David Weber, J.D., CFE, his pen pal was the result of a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation. Weber, academic director of fraud management programs at the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, regularly corresponds with infamous fraudster Bernie Madoff.

In the latest episode of Fraud Talk, Weber describes how the two first crossed paths when Weber was working as the assistant inspector general for the SEC and directed the reporting of misconduct in the Madoff case. After leaving the SEC, and becoming a professor, Weber received an email from none other than Madoff. The two began talking on a regular basis and Madoff even answers questions posed by Weber’s students. “He’s very direct in the emails; he’s not a man that minces words,” Weber said. “He really does express remorse, and he does continue to be of the view, and I agree with him, that the regulatory agencies really failed to do their jobs.”

His close relationship with a man who cheated hundreds of people and organizations out of billions may raise eyebrows, but Weber believes there is more to be gained from talking to convicted fraudsters than refusing to on hear their stories.  

“There’s no question that we can learn from fraudsters,” he said. “As fraud fighters, we are frequently in a position where clearly being proactive is part of our role, but in many cases, when there is spectacular fraud, we are not learning of the fraud until the incident has finally occurred. We are part of the response team.”

Weber likened investigating fraud to coming to the scene of a car crash after the fact. “There are injured people, there are people who need to be triaged, there are cars that are damaged, there is debris in the road,” he said. “Many times, it’s hard to figure out through the victims what transpired, so having any person on the scene who is still able to speak is helpful, even if they were a drunk driver. Even if they were somebody who drove recklessly, hearing what they have to say is very important to reconstructing the scene.”

Weber acknowledges that hearing from fraudsters may be controversial, as anti-fraud professionals understandably don’t want to glamourize their actions. “I have been at the fraud conference many times where I have heard some of these convicted felons speak … and I agree it can put some of them on a pedestal,” he said. “But anything we can get from these people to help us reconstruct the scene, and build a better mousetrap in the future — we should embrace the ability to speak to them.”

To hear more from Weber, register for the 28th Annual ACFE Global Fraud Conference June 18-23 in Nashville where he will be teaching a session on the Panama Papers.

Kozlowski's $6,000 Shower Curtain Added to the ACFE Fraud Museum

Dennis Lynch, former Tyco VP and Chief Litigation Counsel, delivers the infamous shower curtain to ACFE Chief Operations Officer Jeanette LeVie.

Dennis Lynch, former Tyco VP and Chief Litigation Counsel, delivers the infamous shower curtain to ACFE Chief Operations Officer Jeanette LeVie.

AUTHOR'S POST

Mandy Moody, CFE
Content Manager

Corporate greed at the executive level has destroyed hundreds of companies, drained stockholders of their investments and left innocent employees without work. Ken Lay, Jeffrey Skilling, and Andrew Fastow from Enron; Bernie Ebbers from MCI/WorldCom; and Dennis Kozlowski at Tyco have become household names, and too many exemplify what can go horribly wrong when the tone at the top goes askew.

Dubbed the “archetype of avarice” by The New York Times, Kozlowski could have written the book on how NOT to set an ethical tone at the top. This gold and burgundy shower curtain, which was hung in his maid’s bathroom at his residence on 5th Avenue in New York, was reported to cost more than $6,000.

However, his lavish lifestyle did not stop at bathroom décor. In 2001, he reportedly threw a $2 million Roman-themed party for his second wife’s birthday in Sardinia. According to the Times, Jimmy Buffet played the guitar and an ice sculpture of David was displayed urinating Stolichnaya vodka. He owned impressionist paintings and a 130-foot yacht that was originally built for the 1934 American Cup.

His empire came crashing down when he was indicted for tax evasion on a $14 million piece of artwork. This led to a larger internal investigation into his business practices at Tyco. In 2005, Kozlowski was convicted of stealing nearly $100 million from Tyco and was sentenced to a maximum of 25 years in prison. He served the minimum sentence of eight and a half years, and was released in 2014.

You can view the shower curtain in all its glory at the upcoming ACFE Global Fraud Conference in Nashville, June 18-23, in the Traveling Fraud Museum Exhibit. Remember, you can still save $100 if you register by May 10!