SPECIAL TO THE WEB
Edward R. Smith, CFE
Contributing writer, Fraud Magazine
Fraud examinations involve careful gathering and analysis of data and details. If this isn't difficult enough, we also face another daunting obstacle: turning the case over to law enforcement.
Turning your case over to law enforcement can be a difficult undertaking especially if you work in private industry and haven't served previously in a law enforcement capacity. There's nothing more frustrating than seeing law enforcement reject your case.
So why would this happen?
- Is it because your case wasn't thoroughly prepared?
- Is it because law enforcement doesn't understand what makes up a fraud case?
- Is it because law enforcement doesn't have the manpower and/or budget to devote to fraud cases?
- Is it because law enforcement is too busy with violent crimes?
- Is it because the case doesn't meet the minimum thresholds for prosecution?
- Is it because you don't know how the criminal justice system operates?
- Is it because you aren't comfortable dealing with law enforcement?
- Is it because you think that you're better than law enforcement officials?
The answers to any of these questions could be yes.
The following items are vital for a successful outcome: a good working relationship with law enforcement, a general knowledge of criminal law and a thoroughly prepared case — written and presented so that law enforcement personnel, grand jurors and trial jurors can understand it.
Step 1 - Understanding
Before you work with law enforcement, you must remember they have the same needs and desires in life as you do. They're proud professionals doing a sometimes thankless job. They have spouses and children. Not all of them eat donuts. They don't just concentrate on violent criminals. They're well educated and willing to learn new things. Day in and day out they deal with people who are at their worst.
Step 2 - Rapport
Establish a good relationship with law enforcement. Call and introduce yourself to the person in charge of the investigations bureau. Arrange a meeting and discuss your company and the types of problems you face. If possible, invite him or her to your place of business and show them around.
Step 3 – Preparing a thorough case
It takes more than establishing a good working relationship with law enforcement to get your case accepted. I can't overemphasize the importance of doing a complete and thorough investigation. Without one, your case doesn't stand a chance.
Step 4 – Effectively working together
Here are a few things you can remember so you don't alienate yourself from law enforcement:
- Empathize but resist the urge to put yourself in their shoes (unless you've had law enforcement experience).
- Present your thoroughly prepared case to them in person if possible; the personal touch is always appreciated.
- Be patient and explain the case in terms that anyone can understand and guide them in the right direction if they start to stray.
- Finally, always be available to answer their questions.