Shannon Grayer, CFE, CBM, CCEP, may have earned his CFE more than a decade ago, but his passion for learning more about the world and fraud examination has never waned. The head of ethics and compliance investigations for CSRA Inc. has lived in multiple countries, stays abreast of technological advancements in the IT industry and works with major players in U.S. national security.Read More
The insurance company Aflac is probably known best for its ubiquitous duck mascot. It is also consistently ranked on Ethisphere magazine’s World’s Most Ethical Company list, and Fortune’s World’s Most Admired Companies and 100 Best Workplaces for Millennials lists. But in the coming months and years, it might also become well-known for fraud and worker abuses.Read More
ACFE Community Manager
This year during International Fraud Awareness Week, we hosted our first ever Twitter chat with the topic “You discovered fraud — now what?” Participants shared excellent advice on what to do if you or someone you know discovers a potential fraud. A few discussion contributors even shared real-life experiences they have learned from.
Read on to discover some of the top insights shared during the chat, and be sure to follow us on Twitter!
Josh Eckmann, CFCI
Registration Compliance Analyst, Allstate
Many CFEs pride themselves on being fraud fighters, but it’s rare for a fraud fighter to also be an actual professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter; Josh Eckmann is one of those few crossover talents. While not yet a CFE, Eckmann is currently participating in the ACFE 90-Day Challenge — a sprint to prepare for, and pass, his CFE Exam. Eckmann has worked in the insurance anti-fraud field for years and finds that pinning down fraudsters in an investigation is more similar to facing down opponents in the cage than one might think.
What steps led you to your current position?
I started off in the company’s national catastrophe claims team and during that time discovered I had a knack for investigation. I was fortunate enough to find, and be mentored by, a retired Marine Corps counter-intelligence expert who taught me most of what I know. I was promoted to my company’s life insurance division where I found a home for my investigative skillsets. I discovered a large, and vastly unrecognized, problem with the use of life insurance policies to commit multi-lien fraud for mortgages and SBA loans.
It was during that time that I decided to go back to school and earn certification for my investigation skill sets and completed the CFCI program at Utica College in Utica, New York as a distance learner. Eventually I felt a stagnation in my growth as an investigator and worked hard to find a position within my company that would allow me to test my abilities, learn another facet of the business and expand my skillsets and knowledge base. That brought me to my current position that required that I secure the FINRA Series 6 license. Preparing for, and passing, the exam opened my eyes to a whole new world of applications and knowledge for my investigative skill set.
Are there any comparisons between MMA and fighting fraud? Or, has one profession affected the way you see the other?
There are very few sports or professions in the world that are more taxing on body and mind than MMA. It requires passion, perseverance, and an undying obsession to continuous learning, improvement and results. When the price for giving up or being ill-prepared quite literally could mean your life, you must be tenaciously vigilant. That mindset translates into fighting fraud. When failure and giving up are not options, you seek out additional expertise, angles, insights and details that will get you closer to your goal. MMA is so different from other combat sports in that there are so many options, so many techniques, so many ways to win and so many different styles. Mentally treating a fraudster like my opponent in the cage drives me to study, experiment, trust my instincts, be willing to accept when I am wrong, try a different approach and persist until I am victorious. (Chances are pretty good that said fraudster is not actually going to try to punch me in the face … but even if so, I’ve spent my life preparing for those moments).
What activities or hobbies do you like to do outside of work?
Outside of work, I spend much of my time training. I have gyms that I frequent and I have made a habit seeking out and training at new gyms that practice different styles of the same martial arts. If I am not in fight camp (eight weeks of extensive training for a specific fight or tournament), then I train three to four days a week. I take one day to focus on getting stronger and all the other days are MMA-specific. During fight camp I train six days a week: four of which are MMA-specific; one day is focused on strength training and one day is focused on endurance training. I specialize in submission wrestling and I spend a considerable amount of my time training in that style. I do like to travel as well, which I get as a two-for-one deal with MMA. Last October I was in Minsk, Belarus at the United World Wrestling Grappling World Championships representing Team USA, where I won the Bronze Medal at 92kg.
I also enjoy reading, mainly nonfiction. I love reading investigative case studies, the different sciences (physics is my favorite) and business journals. Latin dance is a fantastic way to bring body and mind together as well!
Read Josh's full interview in the Career Center on ACFE.com.
Mandy Moody, CFE
ACFE Content Manager
Last week, more than 250 fraud fighters from the European region gathered in London to discuss the latest in fraud examination techniques, ethics and more. In addition to a presentation by convicted UBS trader, Kweku Adoboli (read the New York Times article, "A Rogue Trader Blames the System, but Not All Are Persuaded"), attendees walked away with actionable items to include in their own daily activities for preventing and detecting fraud. A few of the highlights include:
When and how to approach law enforcement and prosecution
A panel of investigators discussed tips for companies and individuals to follow when reporting fraud to law enforcement:
- Include a well-written report that defines intent. As Pennings said, “It is easier to conduct an investigation once there is a clear sign of intent. It has to hold water that it was intentional and not an accident.”
- Make sure there is a clear collection of evidence. According to Pennings, you can’t recreate a path of evidence after the fact. It may be best to train your employees on how to forensically collect evidence at a crime scene.
- Complete and submit a report that tells a cohesive story. Felton explained that his reports are only about half a page, so companies have to tell that story succinctly and efficiently. “If it is not clear in your head, then you have got a problem,” Felton said. “When you can’t even read through it and can’t understand it, you have got a problem. Sometimes I can’t find an offense.”
A strong ethical framework is good for business
Laura Davies, Director of Fraud at Huntswood, explained that understanding the current global landscape and putting an emphasis on culture is a step in the right direction for anti-fraud experts and organizations. Davies shared examples of recent scandals where consumer trust has been deeply shaken. Most recently, Volkswagen (VW) has been dealing with the fallout from their diesel emissions scandal. Read the full recap.
Using a risk-based pre-employment screening
Previous criminal activity can be hard to find and can put organizations at considerable risk. There are checklist recommendations that usually provide a list of information sources that should be accessed during a screening — they tell you where you can find information on an applicant. But, according to Bernhard Maier, CII, director of BM-Investigations E.U., many of these lists come from the U.S. and aren't multi-jurisdictional. Read the full recap.
Attendees also enjoyed keynote presentations by Clare Rewcastle Brown, the Editor-in-Chief of the Sarawak Report and the investigative journalist who reported on the Malaysian 1MDB corruption scandal, and Mark Livschitz, a recognized AML attorney. You can find more in-depth coverage of the conference at FraudConferenceNews.com.