The Fraud Examiner

Risk Analyst for Southwest Airlines Uses Understanding and Compassion to Prevent Fraud
 

August 2016

ACFE Member Profile
Samantha Weeks, CFE
Business Risk Analyst
Southwest Airlines


Samantha Weeks, CFE, deals with a variety of areas of fraud risk in her position as a business risk analyst for Southwest Airlines. In charge of examining potential risk in external partnerships, customer loyalty programs and internal threats, Weeks believes the key to prevention is not only information, but developing a deeper understanding of how people operate. “Know yourself. Know what motivates the people you work with,” Weeks said. “Understand how the Fraud Triangle presents itself in someone’s life. Have compassion for victims.”

 

 

How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?

I was an operations manager for a newly opened business. Before I even knew what the accounting term “control” meant, I was putting in processes to safeguard against theft and loss. It all felt very common sense to me. Then we had our first instance of employee theft and then another. I realized preventing and detecting fraud were more than reconciling the cash register and doing inventory. It wasn’t long after that I went back to college to get two degrees in accounting. My ultimate goal was to work in fraud.


What steps led you to your current position?

I started with Southwest Airlines as an intern in internal audit. That led to a permanent position and I was in that group for four years. During a fraud risk assessment of our loyalty program, I met the director of accounting operations, who was inspired by my enthusiasm and passion. We worked together to highlight the need for continuous monitoring of our loyalty program and other internal currencies. A new position was created and in this new position, I was asked to be the spearhead of fraud risk management for the company.


What does your role as an analyst entail?

I identify opportunities to specifically address fraud risks across the enterprise. I build continuous monitoring programs so that we are taking a proactive approach to fraud detection. I partner closely with other business units to provide fraud risk consulting, triage and response.

 

What are the most challenging aspects of being involved with risk analysis?

Just like in internal audit, examining the status quo is a big challenge. My most frequent mantras are “Let’s get the right people doing the right jobs” and “When you know better, you do better.” I believe both of those things are the banners of continuous improvement and I feel that we, as employees, have an obligation to set the bar a little higher every time we learn that there is an improvement that could be made. It’s about creating an exciting new tone of change for the better and acknowledging how it impacts the people that you’re asking to adapt to that new tone.

 


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