FBI combats financial fraud with CFEs

An interview with Brian Lamkin, Chief of the FBI's Financial Crimes Section


Brian Lamkin, chief of the FBI's Financial Crimes Section, directs his team of agents and analysts to tackle fraud while working toward additional recognition for CFEs.  

Brian Lamkin is the once and current leader of the band. But the results are no longer music performances but fraud convictions. Lamkin, the chief of the Financial Crimes Section of the FBI, is responsible for the section's 2,300 agents and 400 support staff members - many of whom are CFEs - and more than 18,000 yearly white-collar cases. But it was during his nine years directing some 120 high school band musicians that helped develop the skills of an effective FBI agent and manager.

"Growing up there were two things that I was interested in: music and law enforcement," Lamkin said during a recent interview with Fraud Magazine in his office at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. His father, a Louisville, Ky., police officer, was an FBI National Academy graduate who once introduced his 10-year-old son to then-director J. Edgar Hoover.

In college, Lamkin graduated with an instrumental music education degree and then worked as a band director at two Kentucky high schools. But since meeting Hoover, he always thought he'd like to work for the FBI one day. So in 1987, at age 30, he applied to the agency and was accepted. Since then, he's worked at FBI offices in Norfolk, Va.; Dallas, Texas; Baltimore, Md.; and Louisville, Ky., and two stints at headquarters.

Though the FBI accepts numerous accountants and lawyers into its ranks, it also recruits diversified applicants such as teachers, police officers, engineers, and military personnel. "Educators have always been a major part of the FBI family," Lamkin said. "Teachers have the skills the FBI needs: setting individual goals, self-discipline, seeing projects through to the end," he said.

"An agent or analyst isn't expected to know everything but when you bring all the diverse parties together, you develop a team, everybody benefits, and you learn something (and catch fraudsters) in the process," Lamkin said. "My former job as the director of a band or orchestra is similar to my job as the Financial Crimes Section chief: to mold them into one solid group to bring the final product forward, whether it be the composer's or the FBI director's vision," he said.

Part of that vision is the FBI's ongoing initiative, "Operation Continued Action," which investigates such rampant financial schemes as mortgage and loan fraud, insider fraud, identity theft, check fraud and kiting, plus financial institution failures due to fraud.

From its inception in August 2004, Operation Continued Action investigators have identified at publication time more than 245 subjects in 158 investigations with 144 arrests, convictions, and sentences.

From 2000 to the present, the FBI's investigations in the financial institution fraud arena have resulted in more than 11,466 indictments, 11,362 convictions, and approximately $8.1 billion in restitution orders.

Lamkin elaborated on the FBI's Financial Crimes Section's efforts during the Fraud Magazine interview.

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