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The Fraud Examiner

 

An Investigator’s Advice: Keep an Open Mind

 


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November 2013 

ACFE Member Profile 

 

Jill Battley, CFE, serves as divisional director for Haymarket Risk Management, where she investigates fraud and implements measures to detect and prevent it. Previously, Battley was an agent at New Scotland Yard. She shared with us some of her experiences in the field.  

  

Q. What led you to this type of work? 

  

A. An inquiring mind coupled with a passion for probity. 

  

Q. You handled many complex, international investigations while at New Scotland Yard, including kidnapping cases. How often did your work involve fraud? And what types of fraud were most common?  

  

A. Fraud cuts across most serious criminality (such as) art and high value jewelry thefts, which are achieved through careful planning and pretext. The key to all investigations, but particularly fraud, is the initial information development and then looking at the best option to achieve the required outcome. Inevitably this is done by taking the investigation through stages ranging from undercover covert work to fully overt investigations.  

  

Q. Were there similarities in the way you would investigate kidnapping, ransom and/or blackmail cases – and fraud cases?  

  

A. There was commonality in just about every case in terms of pre-planning, research, surveillance, informant handling and ultimately in planning and coordinating the confrontation of the perpetrators. Similarly, all these cases end up in an interview scenario, the difference being that in complex fraud cases the perpetrators were often more likely to come clean when confronted with incontrovertible evidence than your average armed robber. 

  

Q. How did you come to be divisional director at Haymarket? 

  

A. I had been doing anti-corruption work in the Caribbean for four years when a former colleague from New Scotland Yard who had worked as an interpreter with Haymarket on complicated fraud cases in mainland Europe introduced me to the managing director. 

  

Q. What does this role encompass?  

  

A. Preventing, detecting and investigating corporate fraud. That said, we are great advocates of prevention as that is always better than cure, but so many organizations still pay lip service to controls against fraud. Inexplicably, despite all the well publicized increases in fraud levels, many organizations still continue to rely on hopelessly inadequate pre-employment screening checks and staff are rarely, if ever, given fraud awareness training as part of their induction training.     

  

Q. Which types of cases are the most interesting to you, personally? Did a certain type of investigation really draw you in?  

  

A. All investigations are interesting, and the range of innovative ruses people invent to cover their tracks ensures you are constantly being challenged to stay sharp and professional.  

  

Q. When working to mitigate risk and prevent fraud, what are some of the most important things for fraud examiners to keep in mind? Is there an element that requires the most focus for you?  

  

A. The optimum scenario is a risk analysis that focuses on identifying control and process vulnerabilities across the client’s operations. This has to go beyond physical and IT security and must encompass examination of various functions including procurement, tendering and contract award, pre-employment screening procedures, disposals (so often overlooked but premature disposal of serviceable equipment and perfectly saleable stock is an increasing area of fraud), and increasingly, information security (information is the fraudster’s lifeblood, but how many companies provide staff training in spotting an information-gathering pretext?).  

  

The foregoing is the first step toward mitigating and reducing risk, however, the “buy-in” and support of senior management is the key and that has to be reflected in the production of a company policy manual, which incorporates a code of ethics and clear rules. As to responsibility and accountability, staff must be aware of the stance the company will take if they step across the line. At Haymarket we also encourage clients to publish their code of ethics policy to external parties (suppliers and contractors) in order that they are in no doubt as to the company’s stance against fraud. 

  

Q. What advice do you have for other fraud examiners who would follow in your footsteps?  

  

A. Never take anything at face value and keep an open mind. In handling cases of suspected fraud by an employee, always encourage the client to keep the suspect in place and investigate covertly without their knowledge. Premature confrontation will only ever lead to disposal of evidence and warning off of others involved whereas a detailed covert investigation provides the opportunity to harness all available evidence (through computer forensics searches, lifestyle checks, undercover approaches and so on), and also to identify other internal and/or external parties who may be involved. Once that stage is reached, with client approval, simultaneous unannounced interviews, in which each party is confronted with evidence assimilated, should be conducted with all internal and external suspects.  

  

Q. Where are you from, and what is your “home base,” so to speak?  

  

A. I was brought up in Australia but came to England to join the police. I always wanted to be a Detective at New Scotland Yard. 

  

Q. Do you have any hobbies or interests outside of your anti-fraud work?  

  

A. The arts. I am passionate about theatre, dance, music, art, literature and poetry. For a time I also had my own airplane, but my other interests meant I wasn’t flying socially as much as I wanted -- so now it is mainly being a patron of the arts. That is my first love.  

 

Contact the ACFE
For more information, contact Scott Patterson, Media Relations Specialist
Phone: (512) 478-9000 ext. 156; email: spatterson@acfe.com


 
 

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