The Fraud Examiner

Sage Advice Set CFE on Path to Uncovering Fraud

January 2015

ACFE Member Profile

An assistant U.S. attorney once told Peter Donnelly, CFE: “All fraud starts with a lie; somebody told a lie to get what they wanted illegally. Find the lie and who benefited from it.” He has followed this advice throughout his career as a deputy constable in Tarrant County, Texas. Donnelly has worked more than 1,000 non-real estate judgment writs and has collected more than $800,000 for plaintiffs in two and a half years.

Where were you born and raised?

I was born in Indiana and raised in Chicago.


How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?

I became passionate about fighting fraud when I transferred to Texas as a postal inspector; I had worked mainly street and internal crimes prior to that. In Fort Worth, Texas, I was initially assigned to a credit card fraud team and later served on the Southwest Financial Crimes Task Force. I went back to external street crimes, but I found that mail thieves had gotten more sophisticated in what they stole and how they used the information. This meant that there were more crimes involving banks, credit unions and other financial institutions. A simple check forgery, for example, represents identity theft, because of the forgery and ID used: bank fraud, wire fraud and bank larceny. Around that time a fellow postal inspector and former ACFE Regent, Marty Biegelman, CFE, suggested I become a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE). 


What is one of the biggest lessons you have learned since becoming a CFE?

This is something the same assistant U.S. attorney mentioned earlier told me: “When you are looking for a particular tree, be sure to look at the whole forest,” i.e., the big picture.

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