Teamwork connects the dots to draw a picture of fraud
All fraud cases leave trails. It’s like a kid’s connect-the-dots puzzle. At first glance the puzzle looks like a bunch of randomly scattered spots. But you draw a line linking the specks in the proper sequence that reveals a clear outline of a picture. However, unlike the typical puzzle, in which the dots are usually located in one area, related dots in fraud cases are often scattered throughout multiple jurisdictions, financial institutions, bank accounts, transactions, witnesses, suspects and so on. It takes teamwork and collaboration to discover elaborate fraud schemes. Such was the situation in a case I investigated in 2013.
See something, say something
The offender, whom we’ll call Ms. Zee, was 47 years old and unemployed. She held deposit accounts at the bank where I worked as a regional fraud investigator. From February 2013 through February 2014, Ms. Zee participated in a rather lucrative fraud scheme that involved identity theft, theft of government property and money laundering.
Although she launched her scheme in February 2013, I didn’t detect her activity until May 2013 when I received a call from an astute staff member at one of our branches. She told me that Ms. Zee had just visited the branch to make larger-than-usual cash withdrawals from her savings and checking accounts. The sizes of the withdrawals weren’t normal for this customer, so the branch team member reviewed recent account activity and noticed two IRS tax refund credits that had recently posted to Ms. Zee’s savings and checking accounts.
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