Career Center: Newly Self-Employed
Paul Hurrell, CFE
CEO and Founder
Hurrell Global Risk
Paul Hurrell, CFE, has enjoyed a long and varied career in the anti-fraud field. He began in the public sector, serving in the New Zealand Police before making a switch to the private sector. Now the head of his own firm, Hurrell Global Risk, he is thriving in the ever-evolving landscape of international client services. “What I enjoy are the opportunities it has given me to meet people in different locations, areas of business or countries I may not have met otherwise,” he said. “I work on engagements that use my skills in areas I had not even thought of — some not related to fraud or crime at all. Also, those I assumed would be competitors have become associates and mentors, generously imparting their experience and knowledge.”
How did you first become passionate about fighting fraud?
I first became interested in fraud while still serving in the New Zealand Police, when I was assigned to investigate a large goods and services (sales tax) fraud. It involved claiming large sums of the tax back from the tax revenue department upon the signing of land property agreements, but before finalizing the deal. I was intrigued by how much thought and energy fraudsters put into this and other fraud schemes — and the amount of damage one person could cause, both monetarily and emotionally to their victims.
What is one of the biggest lessons you have learned since becoming a CFE?
With fraud, I (and I assume all my peers) am continually receiving life lessons. When you think you have seen it all, a fraud or corruption risk comes along that changes that view. For me it is important to keep an open mind as to the fraud scenario that is, or may be, playing out. Different frauds may appear the same on the surface, but the way the offender has perpetrated their version of the fraud and their rationalization is a very subjective thing.
What steps led you to you starting your own firm?
Working in my own fraud risk and investigations company is something I contemplated for some years — I just needed a final push. Stepping away from the corporate pay check was scary, exhilarating and a massive learning curve, all in one.
I have formed an association with Australian data analytics company Analytics in Motion, as well as a London-based company who specialize in deep web searching. With a large fraud risk network, I often find that if I can’t help a client, I know someone who can — it’s all about the swings and roundabouts in life.
What unique challenges do you face working with a variety of clients?
Some of the challenges that we face situated in the Oceania, Asia-Pacific region relate mostly to cultural expectations and time zones. Having created, and working within, a small enterprise network of fraud and investigations specialists, we offer clients a range of services and capabilities in various parts of the globe, with various languages in normally harder to reach or developing regions.
You have experience both in the public sector and the private sector. Was there a sizable transition you had to make to switch over? Do you have any advice for those looking to go from one side to the other?
I moved directly from the police into corporate work and was lucky enough to be mentored by some great managers. I have always said when hiring investigators that, in general, it takes a couple of years for the policeman to leave the corporate investigator, and that was true for myself too.
The major difference for me between public and private is of course whose interests you are employed to protect — as well as the amount of money available to do so. Both have politics which you need to navigate and both can be rewarding in very different ways.
What is a memorable case or project that you have worked on; one that made you feel especially proud?
It’s hard to identify just one. Like children, they make you feel proud for different reasons. One that stands out, mainly because we identified it soon after commencing work in a large corporation, was a case of a worker who had stolen just under $1 million in six months. From that scenario we developed fraud analytics testing and found three historical and three other current frauds happening in the same company using similar systems.
When it came time for this person to be sentenced, the lawyer wanted us to agree that they could return to work at the same company, to enable them to reimburse the money to the company each month. I worked out the math and said I would consider putting it to the management, if the lawyer provided me with proof that the person would live to 147 years of age — which is how long it would have taken that person to repay the stolen amount without any interest being applied.
How has membership in the ACFE impacted your professional development?
Membership in the ACFE enabled me to discover associated areas of study and also provided informal training opportunities through the networking and publications on offer. Taking on something I learnt from a mentor, I now spend around 3 percent of my previous net earnings on personal development. Whether that is formal study or courses, a conference — I went to the ACFE Global Fraud Conference in Nashville last year — or the purchase of fraud-related reading material for my Kindle or iPad, it’s helped me grow in my professional and personal development.
What activities or hobbies do you like to do outside of work?
I have been involved in volunteer fire-fighting in New Zealand and Australia for over twenty years. I rose to be chief of a rural fire department before stepping down due to work commitments. I am also a keen photographer of landscapes and animals in their natural habitat. I’ve received recognition in a competition for photo I took in Colombia of a colourful lizard, which is now used on my company marketing material. I’m currently intrigued by the various forms that rust and oxidisation in general take on old railway wagons and bridges. But with grandkids having arrived, and more on the way, my time will take on a new direction.
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