Originally published in February, 2015.
Today the ability to connect with people at any time and from any place seems easier than ever. A tap of a finger makes the time it takes to reach someone almost instantaneous. However, reaching someone is only half the battle. The dreaded blocked-out day on an Outlook calendar, family obligations and the ding of a new email can sometimes get in the way of many attempted connections. But, the investigative team at Target is using partnerships like the ACFE’s Corporate Alliance programs to become connected to others in their industry and get the insight they need to stay ahead of the curve.
“To be successful in fighting fraud, you need to have broad knowledge and have a diverse network both inside and outside of your organization,” said Gregg Patyk, CFE, Senior Manager of Target’s Global & Information Security Investigations. “The Corporate Alliance helps us attain those goals. It enables us to connect faster and more genuinely with other companies that have similar goals and mindsets.”
Since joining the Corporate Alliance program in 2011, Patyk and his team have been able to build relationships with other member companies, especially during face-to-face seminars. At the ACFE Global Fraud Conference in San Antonio, Texas, last June, Target representatives sat down with other members and discussed specific initiatives regarding whistleblowing reporting within large companies.
"Since the conference, we’ve received assistance that we could not have received anywhere else," Patyk said. "Likewise, we reciprocated and helped another member company resolve some of their issues. In both examples, both of our companies were able to expedite the resolutions of each matter because of partnerships and information sharing. Building partnerships with other companies enables Target to learn what other companies are doing and how they are successful with their anti-fraud programs."
However, Patyk said that as in any relationship, it isn’t just about sharing the successes and passing along what has worked. There is also value in sharing challenges and having those tough discussions about things that didn’t work. "Being part of a group that shares information freely is conducive to learning. For example, not every program and method we have tried in the past has worked. I think it is equally important to share failures along with the success stories, so we can learn together."
Target Minneapolis Headquarters
In addition to building connections with other corporations, Target uses data analytics to remain proactive and forecast potential threats. But Patyk said that there is another crucial step that goes along with that analysis. "I believe using analytics is a secondary step in being proactive. To truly be proactive, you need to be well-informed and have the right skills, knowledge and information. We connect with our internal business partners on a routine basis to have a better understanding of their businesses. By building these connections ahead of time, it really helps when there is an issue because we’ll have at least a cursory, if not better, understanding of that part of the business and be viewed as problem solvers versus adversaries. Building partnerships, staying informed and being well-trained are the first steps in being proactive."
As a Corporate Alliance member, Target places a high value on the training of its employees. Specifically, Target uses investigative directives. The directives are continuously reviewed and updated to confirm compliance with legal updates, correct any gaps identified as a result of specific findings learned during investigations, and to ensure the appropriate review and oversight of investigations.
Along with using investigative directives, Target relies on training and education from the ACFE. According to Patyk, if an investigator does not have the
Certified Fraud Examiner credential when they are hired, they are required to obtain it within one year of joining the team. "“Training is and has always been a part of the team’s goals and objectives," Patyk said. "It is important to have the CFE credential, as it sets a common foundation for knowledge when you have a diverse team of talent. We rely on the ACFE’s training and conferences to learn from industry leaders on current fraud trends, and we have the ability to network and build new relationships. As a team, we also take advantage of our local chapter meetings and attend webinars on the latest fraud topics, schemes and techniques to improve our performance."
Patyk’s team members work in many, if not all, areas of investigation including audit, forensic accounting, forensic science, law enforcement, consulting, finance, IT and retail. Target’s investigative responsibilities include the headquarter locations and product sourcing offices located around the world. According to Patyk, the most common type of fraud investigated in North America is asset misappropriation cases, while internationally Target investigates a majority of conflict of interest matters. "When people think of Target, they think of our stores. Our teams can and do support some of the store-related investigative issues, but our main responsibilities are global in nature and cover Target’s enterprise," Patyk said. “Since we have a global reach, we encounter every type of fraud imaginable.”
Patyk and his team plan on taking on fraud in 2015 and in the future by using the shared knowledge found by communicating and connecting with other companies dedicated to fighting fraud. "To be more successful in the future, the industry needs to work together on common problems and share information," Patyk said. "I see the Corporate Alliance as a primary way to stay ahead of fraudsters and to better understand how to manage new risks."
Contact for more information:
Phone: (800) 245-3321
International: +1 (512) 478-9000