Member Spotlight

Richard Barbieri, CFE

Unique online marketplace presents uncommon challenges for CFE

Although he began his career in law, Richard Barbieri, CFE, found himself drawn to fraud cases. Now the senior manager of risk operations at Etsy, he deals less with money laundering cases and more with customer and merchant verification. When he isn’t overseeing his team of 20 at work, Barbieri enjoys running and cheering on his favorite baseball team. 

How did you become passionate about fighting fraud? 

Prior to my time at Etsy, I worked at the Manhattan District Attorney’s (DA) office. I started as a typical paralegal working on all kinds of cases. Fraud cases often stuck with me because as much as people — particularly the perpetrators — regard them as “victimless crimes,” when you actually interact with the people who are the targets of these crimes, you see just how incredibly wrong that phrase is. 

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

As silly as this sounds, the biggest lesson I learned since becoming a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), and continue to learn all the time, is the extent to which fraudsters will go to steal — even relatively small amounts. While it is not something I deal with directly in my current role, seeing presentations, like the one at the ACFE Global Fraud Conference, about otherwise high-performing employees committing expense report theft, never fails to amaze me. 

What steps led you to your current position at Etsy? 

After I realized that my interest leaned more toward the investigative side of work and my passion for fighting fraud, I moved from being a generalist paralegal to the Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau at the Manhattan DA. I worked there as an analyst for a little under three years. I joined Etsy’s risk operations team as its sixth member in the spring of March 2013, and was fortunate to join at a time of incredible growth for both Etsy and the team itself. I now run a team of more than 20 spread across three offices in two countries. 

Do you face any unique challenges working for an online-based company that has so many different vendors and users? 

As a marketplace, Etsy is in an uncommon position of having to ensure that both sides of the transaction are legitimate customers. For most merchants, it is simply a matter of ensuring that the person buying their goods is a legitimate customer. While the vast majority of transactions on Etsy are between legitimate members, having to police both sides of a transaction does provide an extra challenge.

What is a memorable case or project that you have worked on; one that made you feel especially proud? 

When I was at the DA’s office, I assisted in the investigation and eventual prosecution of a money laundering case involving a group cashing bad checks and then attempting to launder the money through U.S. postal money orders. It was an enormously large case involving almost 40 defendants, nearly 30 bank accounts, and investigators from major banks along with the U.S. Secret Service, Postal Inspectors and the New York Police Department. The group's leader pleaded guilty before trial and received a minimum sentence of 10 years.

Holding an internationally recognized credential like the CFE has helped grow my reputation as a speaker at industry events and helped elevate my own role here at Etsy. Richard Barbieri, CFE

Senior Manager of Risk Operations


Risk and Compliance


New York City, New York, U.S.

How has earning the CFE credential benefited your career? 

Having the CFE credential has been critical to my career. Holding an internationally recognized credential like the CFE has helped grow my reputation as a speaker at industry events and helped elevate my own role here at Etsy. This past spring, we were hiring a manager to report up to me and it is no coincidence that we hired another CFE. He has been an outstanding addition to our team. 

Would you encourage others to join the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE)? 

I’d absolutely encourage others to join the ACFE. Besides the good it does for one’s career, the chance to attend the ACFE Global Fraud Conference and meet fellow fraud fighters of all stripes — from law enforcement to in-house auditors to consultants — not only provides an opportunity to swap techniques (and war stories!) but also gives me the chance to discover other career opportunities available with the CFE credential. I can also report that I’ve put my money where my mouth is — this past April one of the members of my team became a CFE. 

What activities or hobbies do you like to do outside of work? 

Having grown up in New York, I’m a big Yankees fan so I spend a lot of time watching them during the summer. I’m also a runner — aiming for about 550 miles this year — but these days I spend most of my time with my fiancée planning our wedding. 

ACFE membership is open to individuals of all job functions, industries and levels of experience who are interested in the prevention, detection and deterrence of fraud. If you want to level up your anti-fraud career, we can help.

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