Member Spotlight

Samantha Weeks, CFE

Risk analyst for Southwest Airlines uses understanding and compassion to prevent fraud

Samantha Weeks, CFE, deals with a variety of fraud risks in her position as a business risk analyst for Southwest Airlines. In charge of examining potential risk in external partnerships, customer loyalty programs and internal threats, Weeks believes the key to prevention is not only information, but developing a deeper understanding of how people operate. “Know yourself. Know what motivates the people you work with,” Weeks said. “Understand how the Fraud Triangle presents itself in someone’s life. Have compassion for victims.” 

Having the CFE credential has given my company trust in my expertise and given me a voice at the table. The credential identifies me as a fraud professional who can speak to fraud risks beyond day-to-day processing of transactions. Samantha Weeks, CFE

Business Risk Analyst, Southwest Airlines




Dallas, Texas, U.S.

How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?

I was an operations manager for a newly opened business. Before I even knew what the accounting term “control” meant, I was putting in processes to safeguard against theft and loss. It all felt very common sense to me. Then we had our first instance of employee theft and then another. I realized preventing and detecting fraud were more than reconciling the cash register and doing inventory. It wasn’t long after that I went back to college to get two degrees in accounting. My ultimate goal was to work in fraud. 

What steps led you to your current position?

I started with Southwest Airlines as an intern in internal audit. That led to a permanent position and I was in that group for four years. During a fraud risk assessment of our loyalty program, I met the director of accounting operations, who was inspired by my enthusiasm and passion. We worked together to highlight the need for continuous monitoring of our loyalty program and other internal currencies. A new position was created and in this new position, I was asked to be the spearhead of fraud risk management for the company. 

What does your role as an analyst entail? 

I identify opportunities to specifically address fraud risks across the enterprise. I build continuous monitoring programs so that we are taking a proactive approach to fraud detection. I partner closely with other business units to provide fraud risk consulting, triage and response.

What are the most challenging aspects of being involved with risk analysis?

Just like in internal audit, examining the status quo is a big challenge. My most frequent mantras are “let’s get the right people doing the right jobs” and “when you know better, you do better.” I believe both of those things are the banners of continuous improvement and I feel that we, as employees, have an obligation to set the bar a little higher every time we learn that there is an improvement that could be made. It’s about creating an exciting new tone of change for the better and acknowledging how it impacts the people that you’re asking to adapt to that new tone. 

What are the most important skills that you have learned throughout your career?

Partnering across the business, and within the fraud profession, has been the broadest skill that has impacted my career. Many of the wins that I have were made more smoothly and had greater impact because of the relationships that I built along the way. One vital element of that, for me, is asking how I can contribute to the goals of other groups and leadership through serving.

How has earning the Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) credential benefited your career?

Having the CFE credential has given my company trust in my expertise and given me a voice at the table. The credential identifies me as a fraud professional who can speak to fraud risks beyond day-to-day processing of transactions. I bring the wealth of knowledge that comes from obtaining the credential and being a member of the anti-fraud profession.  

Why did you decide to become a CFE?

Becoming a CFE was an obvious decision. It was something I did for my career and to expand my network. Sharing information about fraud among other fraud professionals makes all of us better. Elevating my credibility was necessary to reach my professional goals. 

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

Surround yourself with people who know more than you do: about the business, about the industry, about the culture, about leadership — you can never have too much information. Understanding something small can lead to big breaks in solving a fraud puzzle. 

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

In one case in particular, I uncovered that the fraudster was using social media to get information they needed to pose as the true customer. Companies usually consider how they can protect the customer, but in this case, the customers were not protecting themselves, and even putting themselves at risk. Breaking out of the mold of looking at internal and external bad actors, I was able to identify a third group: the victims willingly providing sensitive information on social media. That was an exciting and cautionary case. 

What do you hope to personally pass on to the next generation of fraud fighters?

Understanding people is going to help you go far. Know yourself. Know what motivates the people you work with. Understand how the fraud triangle presents itself in someone’s life. Have compassion for victims. A working knowledge of people will help you think like a fraudster (in order to catch them) and to build partnerships within your organization that will foster trust, reliability and credibility.  

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

Volunteering, reading, camping, hiking and, of course, travel. 

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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