The Fraud Examiner

CFE Battles Fraud Across International Borders

Colin Yates, CFE, is founder of Yates Fraud Consulting Limited in Melksham, England. He began his investigative career with the New Zealand Police, followed by various fraud and security roles in the telecom industry and, ultimately, his own practice. 

Colin Yates

What does your job involve on a daily basis?

I run my own telecommunications fraud and investigations consultancy company. I was appointed fraud advisor for the Pacific Island Telecommunications Association (PITA), which is a part-time role assisting the 18 small Pacific island nations to manage their fraud risk. So I spend four to five months in the Pacific fulfilling those responsibilities, and the rest of the year I spend at my base in the UK, working with a few European clients. I am able to schedule this work to ensure I get two summers a year – and for anyone thinking of making a similar move from the busy corporate environment, I can assure you that despite it being a lot more difficult to maintain an income you had become used to, the benefits to your health through reduced stress make it all worthwhile.

What types of cases do you investigate?

My focus these days is on fraud prevention and advising telecom operators on what strategies they should be pursuing to prevent, detect and investigate fraud – particularly international revenue share fraud. This is a fraud which, according to the 2013 Communications Fraud Control Association Fraud Survey, is costing the industry around [USD] $10 billion a year. I present on this topic at a number of international fraud forums each year and work closely with many of the operators who are having their number ranges ‘hijacked’ to terminate these fraud calls.

Another aspect of my consultancy is being contracted by smaller operators to come in and provide a complete review of their fraud management and investigation function to identify any areas of improvement and make the necessary recommendations. This not only reviews their policies, procedures and strategy, but also looks at their resourcing, skill sets, training requirements, workloads and structure. These assignments are particularly rewarding in respect of fraud investigations as it provides an opportunity to identify the training needs of inexperienced investigators who have been moved into this role with little or no experience and who otherwise would have continued without the opportunity to receive professional training as they grow in to the role.

You have an interesting background in fighting fraud – how has your career developed?

I started my working career in the New Zealand Police, and after 19 years in various investigative and management positions, I decided that I would like a change. So I left and joined the telecommunications industry. I started with Telecom New Zealand in various fraud and security roles, moving to manager of the fraud management and investigation functions. After 11 years with Telecom New Zealand, I was offered a role as Pacific fraud manager with Vodafone, firstly looking after New Zealand, and later including Australia and Fiji. In 2005 I was offered the opportunity for international assignments so went first to Dusseldorf, Germany as fraud manager for global service platforms, and one year later moved to the Vodafone HQ as the group fraud advisor.

In 2009 I was promoted to group head of fraud management and investigations, with responsibility for strategy, reporting to the board and audit committee, implementing best practices and managing significant investigations (mainly those involving director level employees, losses of more than £1 million, bribery, corruption or other events that could have an impact on the brand). This responsibility was across the 23 countries where Vodafone had a footprint, so it was an extremely busy and interesting role. I decided to take early retirement from this role in July 2012 and use some of the learnings gained from my 40-plus years of fighting fraud to help smaller telecom operators around the world.

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