How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?
I became passionate about fighting fraud by talking to the victims. These are real victims and fraud crimes affect much more than just a financial loss. There is a loss of security, safety and trust in the world around the victims, especially with seniors.
What is one of the biggest lessons you have learned since becoming a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE)?
The realization of the sheer scope of frauds that are out there worldwide and how their many tentacles reach into every one of our everyday lives.
What steps led you to your current position?
I started out in a cruiser like every other cop and then I joined our Mounted Patrol. I did that for six years. When my 1,200-pound partner (horse) retired, I moved into investigations. Always being a bit of a numbers nerd, the “Fraud Squad” was a perfect fit for me — I expressed an interest in the unit two years before I was assigned to it and I have been in that position for seven years. This year I have also become a part-time Task Force Officer (TFO) for the FBI's White Collar Crime Task Force.
The part-time TFO job was the idea of the local FBI supervisor, who is also an ACFE member. We got to know each other through Heartland Chapter events. We discussed cases that we’d both worked and discovered that we were definitely chewing some of the same dirt. There are jurisdictional issues that come up with being a cop in a municipality. Having a federal deputation can certainly broaden my approach. It has also helped find cases that might have otherwise "fallen through the cracks" in the system where both sides, federal and local, might think that the other is working on a particular case.
What is a memorable case or project that you have worked on; one that made you feel especially proud?
I work all of the financial exploitation cases involving vulnerable adults in Omaha. When paid caregivers steal from the people whom they are charged with helping, it really gets my dander up. I've worked several of these cases and, along with the partnership of Adult Protective Services (APS) and the county attorney's office, we have brought suspects to justice, stop the financial bleeding and get the victims proper care and protection. This has been very satisfying.
I had one case where an elderly widow, living alone, was targeted by a man who knocked on her door and claimed to be a friend of her late husband's. This guy got into her head over a period of time, telling her that she was in danger from gang members and that she had to "pay them off" for protection through him. Over a short period of time, several thousands of dollars were depleted from her account. Bank employees became suspicious and alerted both APS and law enforcement. We put a case together and got this guy convicted of robbery/extortion for the threats that he made to the victim. I drove her to the courthouse for the sentencing because she wanted to show the suspect that, in the end, he didn't get the best of her. It was an exhausting trip for her because she didn't move around very well, but it was important for her. I was humbled by her strength and proud to help her through it.
How do you think CFEs can help their communities better understand fraud risks and prevention?
In 2015, I was honored to receive the ACFE Outstanding Achievement in Community Service Award at the 26th Annual ACFE Global Fraud Conference in Baltimore. I've given dozens of talks about fraud to thousands of seniors and caregivers, informing them of what fraud and scam trends are out there. I’ve advised them of what warning signs they can look for, and what steps they can take, to make themselves and their loved ones less of a target. The ACFE has a broad range of fraud fighters with a vast range of knowledge. Getting that knowledge and experience out to the community does real and measurable good.
How has earning the CFE credential benefited your career?
There have been so many times where I have had to reach out to other companies, groups or organizations to gather information to work one of my cases. I don't know how many times my email or my business card with the attached CFE credential has caught the attention of the person that I made contact with. It has helped me by adding a certain amount of legitimacy to who I am as an investigator.
How do you think being a CFE can help others in the law enforcement field?
Professional education and networking. Since joining the ACFE I have been exposed to a plethora of diverse, quality training which has helped me develop a more global view of fraud. It has also given me the opportunity to meet others who investigate frauds that may be different from what I normally investigate, which has helped me point some of my cases in a better direction.
What activities or hobbies do you like to do outside of work?
My wife and I love to travel. If we can go somewhere different and experience something new, we're in!
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.