The Fraud Examiner

Check Your Biases at the Door

Check Your Biases at the Door

By Hal Humphreys, CFE

June 2015 

Hi. I’m Hal Humphreys. I’m a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE). I work for the defense.

As I was standing outside at the local ACFE chapter meeting, sheltering from the rain under a restaurant awning whilst waiting on my cab, I overheard a conversation.

The first CFE was bragging about shutting down a mom-and-pop grocery store for keeping two sets of books, one for register sales and another for “all cash” sales. “I just love busting people,” he said.

It was your standard lunch meeting: guest speaker, wooden chicken, mixed vegetables. The guest speaker, the local public defender, received a less than enthusiastic welcome. It seems that the entire group of CFEs assembled was employed by prosecution teams. Others worked for government agencies and reckoned themselves fraud-fighting detectives on a mission.

I witnessed the bias of the group making a gracious guest speaker feel uncomfortable. She asked for a show of hands: “How many of you ever do work for the defense?”

The room was quiet and dead still. I was sitting at a table in the middle of the room with my hand held high and my head held high and sweat pouring down my neck. I got a few sympathetic glances, more than a few looks of contempt and the rest just pretended not to notice.

To be fair, I also work as a contract investigator for the State of Tennessee, helping them identify potential cases of fraudulent behavior so they can fight fraud. But yes, I work for the defense.

As a private investigator, I am in search of facts. I really do not care who’s guilty or who’s not. I just want to gather facts. Good facts, bad facts; it doesn’t really matter to me. I just want to gather facts. Once I have facts, then I can analyze them, review them, mull them over, study them, craft a narrative, tell a story and draw my conclusions. But even then, I’m not comfortable with the idea of “busting” people.

To take joy in busting someone, I think, requires a certain degree of sureness that the person being busted is in some way guilty. There are a number of problems with that, I think. Here’s the first one:

“… No opinion shall be expressed regarding the guilt or innocence of any person or party.” – ACFE Code of Ethics

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