The Fraud Examiner

From Fighting in the Cage to Fighting Fraud
 

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May 2017

ACFE Member Profile
Josh Eckmann
Registration Compliance Analyst
Allstate Financial Services, LLC


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 is your current role and what does it entail?

Currently I work as a compliance analyst in the broker-dealer division of a large insurance company. My primary functions are doing criminal and financial background checks on new candidates who are affiliating with the broker-dealer as required by FINRA. I also conduct investigations on already onboarded representatives to ensure they are compliant with FINRA’s disclosure regulations. If they fall outside of FINRA’s, or the company’s, disclosure guidelines, I recommend termination.

 

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.

 

How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?

My family and extended family has had the unfortunate experience of being the victims of fraud. Even more painful was that the perpetrator was a close and trusted friend and family member. My family has never fully recovered from the incident and it instilled a fire in me to catch and deter those who seek to take advantage of others for their own gain, and make sure that the ones who are successful are brought to justice.

 

What is a memorable case or project that you have worked on; one that made you feel especially proud?

Once I reviewed a life policy involving a series of collateral assignment requests that had come in within a couple of weeks of each other, which cumulatively exceeded the value of the policy. I noticed that a couple of the assignments were backdated and had already been recorded on the policy. There were also a few new ones — 10 in total that were all for the same amount, $1 million. This particular policy only had $1million of coverage and I thought that we may have accepted the assignments erroneously. Further review revealed that the assignment documents were all nearly identical, however they were executed in clusters with dates that were within the same week (they were assumed to be duplicates of the same assignment). Even more interestingly, the same officer at the bank signed off on all the assignments of collateral. At this point, I contacted the assignee to find out how much money had been loaned to this customer and to point out the peculiarities that I found on the forms. The officer at the bank was confused and shocked when she found out. She later advised me that $10 million was loaned to the customer by a single representative at the bank — against their company underwriting policy. They responded with a request to verify the total value of the policy they had assigned as collateral and it was my unfortunate responsibility to inform them that the policy was only worth $1 million. They then requested copies of each assignment executed in their favor by this particular officer for their legal team to review and determine the best course of action.


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