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Britany Finnegan, CFE
Mortgage Fraud Specialist
Britany Finnegan, CFE, is a mortgage fraud specialist for Capital One in McLean, Virginia. In her interview with the ACFE, she shares some of her advice for being successful and effective in fighting fraud. One of her secrets: Have a strong mentor.
How did you get started in your line of work?
My journey began in Florida as a receptionist for a British Vacation Rental company from which I transferred to the mortgage division. I was excited, but little did I know the bubble would burst in the mortgage industry soon after. After a year, like many, I was forced to look for work and found myself employed within the field of quality assurance, until the company closed its doors due to the economic downturn. This was a blessing in disguise, as it led me to JPMorgan Chase, where I was able to expand my knowledge and experience in the mortgage fraud division. After a few years, I was approached by an executive recruiter, working on behalf of Capital One. So excited for the opportunity, I immediately accepted a position as a Fraud Examiner II for them. It was Capital One who encouraged me to obtain my Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) credential.
What are some of your day-to-day responsibilities in your role?
Currently, I review closed mortgage loans that have either been referred to our department or fit a scope for possible suspicious activity. If any suspicious activity is determined, a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) is filed and all corporate requirements are met.
Which types of cases (or subjects) are the most interesting to you, personally? Did a certain type of investigation really draw you in?
Any new types of trends — it just amazes me what some individuals come up with and the time and effort put into committing possible fraud. I also enjoy the challenge of putting together all the pieces that help identify the full scope of all involved in the fraud.
During your career, you have also been a quality assurance analyst and a loan processor. How does the experience you gained in these positions help you today as a fraud examiner?
As a processor, I had just started in the industry, so from that perspective my experience was learning and understanding the mortgage industry. Some other great learning experiences came directly from my co-workers and our clients, who taught me that paying attention to detail and not cutting corners were critical to be a successful processor. From a quality assurance perspective, I learned quickly what is required by law, the guidelines, industry standards and corporate requirements.
What do you think are some of the most important things for fraud examiners to keep in mind when working to prevent and detect fraud? Is there an element that requires the most focus for you?
The most important element of focus for me is to always be vigilant and to stay on top of any new fraud trends, even if they haven't hit the industry or my department yet. The Internet is vital and a good avenue to research and even detect some of these schemes. Keep your mind open and pay attention to detail and you will find what you need.
What advice do you have for other fraud examiners who would follow in your footsteps?
Simply put, seek a mentor. One of my current mentors advised me to always be on the lookout for someone who you feel comfortable with that will share their knowledge and experiences. Knowledge is priceless and so is the wise advice mentors share. It's your desire that will make this happen; desire transcends everything, which will produce fabulous results. In addition, focus on detail and SLOW DOWN. Sometimes we can get caught up with production and numbers; however, it's so important to slow down, have a clear head and really think about the details of the loan. With that being said, it is also important not to dig too far deep down the rabbit hole. It's important to find a good balance.
In general, do you think the global problem of fraud is getting better — or worse?
Feelings are neutral. I see us taking action towards better, but the fraudsters seem to find new ways to challenge us. We may be able to eliminate some fraud, slowing down the fraudulent activity, but I do not believe fraud will ever go away. Technology is always advancing and as a result, determined individuals willing to commit fraud will always try to find a way.
You are based in McLean, Virginia — where are you from, originally?
I’m originally from Denver, Colorado. At an early age my family moved to California where I spent several years, before they re-located to Pennsylvania. As a young adult I settled in Orlando, Florida, and from there the industry lead me to Virginia where I call home. I'm thankful for my movement around the states as I feel it has helped define me as a well-rounded person.
Do you have any hobbies or interests outside of your anti-fraud work?
Like most Virginians, I enjoy the outdoors. I love camping with my husband and my two dogs. But on a more ritual basis, I love to run, I find when I push myself that extra mile, I'm much more enthusiastic, focused and driven; runner's high if you will.
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