Career Center: Help Me Leave a Legacy
Scott Moritz, CFE
As a child of the 60s and 70s, Scott Moritz, CFE, global leader at Protiviti Forensic, was enthralled by TV shows like “Mannix” and “Kojak.” These popular shows portrayed ‘
white hat’ detectives breaking open their cases. Being prone to wearing the ‘white hat,’ Moritz considers himself fortunate that his passion is also his career. While advocating anti-fraud efforts, Moritz has learned that it is important to “recognize that things are not always black-and-white” – balance is key. Moritz quotes American psychologist, Abraham Maslow, “If all you have is a hammer, then everything will look like a nail.” To this Moritz replies, “In order to avoid becoming a hammer, you need to keep an open mind, follow the facts and accept that not every allegation is true or can be proven. Our job is to investigate the allegations, determine whether they have merit and report the results.”
Where were you born and raised?
I was born and raised on Long Island in New York. I am the youngest of six kids.
How did you become passionate about fighting fraud or what sparked your interest to enter into the anti-fraud field?
From the time I was very young, I was fascinated with the notion of becoming a detective and getting my ‘gold shield.’ Wearing the white hat has always been my instinct, and I am fortunate that my passion for investigations took me in the direction that it did.
What steps led you to your current position?
After college I confided in one of my sisters that I was submitting applications to take several police department entrance exams. My sister asked me if I had considered the FBI. She encouraged me to pursue it and put me in touch with a friend who was an FBI Special Agent in New York City for advice.
Fifteen months after applying to the FBI, I was sworn in as a new agent through the FBI Academy and was assigned to the Memphis, Tennessee, division on a white-collar crime squad. After four years in Memphis, I transferred to the FBI’s largest field office in New York. When I was assigned to the Asset Forfeiture Money Laundering Squad, I was a little deflated. I had my heart set on working traditional organized crime since New York City is home to five major crime families. I quickly realized that I had landed on a great squad whose primary focus was conducting parallel financial investigations of major criminal cases to then identify, seize and forfeit criminally-derived assets in order to dismantle major criminal organizations. Hence, I got to work on the largest high profile cases in the New York area, which included major organized crime, narco-laundering and white-collar crime cases.
After making many of these cases, I was offered an opportunity to leave the FBI and work for a Big 6 accounting firm. I ended up working on more than 30 monitorships of private sanitation companies during the course of my early private sector career. I also worked on a wide variety of financial crime and corruption cases, and made several stops along the way at different accounting and consulting firms, including two start-ups, before assuming leadership of Protiviti's forensic practice three years ago.
What are the most challenging aspects of being a White-Collar Crime & Anti-Corruption Strategist?
I think the biggest challenge is to get our clients to view fraud and corruption risk management and compliance as a strategic imperative and a critical part of their overall strategic planning. In 30 years of investigating financial crime and corruption, including 20 years of advising companies on these subjects, I’ve seen very few organizations that include fraud and corruption risk in their strategic planning processes. Instead, they opt to wall them off, which often results in their failure to consider the full spectrum of weaknesses and threats that could inhibit them from realizing their strategic goals.
What are the important anti-corruption skills that you have learned throughout your career?
It’s important for fraud examiners across all disciplines to realize that every new investigation or project is likely going to entail a combination of bringing your prior experiences and skills to bear while learning something new. The majority of the anti-corruption and fraud matters I’ve been involved with have entailed having to learn a new company, a new industry, and/or a new fraud scheme or a new take on an old fraud scheme.
Another important skill I learned in transitioning from an FBI Special Agent to an anti-corruption consultant is recognizing that things are not always black-and-white, and that while anti-corruption and fraud risk compliance and processes are important, there has to be a balance between continuing to operate in global markets in a compliant manner and creating a compliance framework that is so cumbersome that it brings the company to its knees.
How do you stay up to date on the latest white-collar schemes that people try to perpetrate in your field?
Fraud Magazine and the ACFE email bulletins are a terrific way to stay current, as well as the Report to the Nations. I try to read as much as I can on regulatory and law enforcement actions, white-collar crime, misconduct and corruption matters that play out publicly. I also learn a great deal by overseeing investigations for our clients.
During the course of our investigations I try to share what we learn in the form of thought leadership. For example, a year or so ago we saw a spike in cases involving “Fake President” schemes and reshipping schemes, so we published articles to help raise awareness of these ongoing fraud schemes that target companies.
What position in your career do you feel has made the most impact in your professional growth and why?
I think it’s really two positions.
The common denominator between the FBI and Protiviti is that they both have unique people and mission-oriented cultures built on foundations of integrity.
What activities or hobbies do you like to do outside of work?
I’ve got three sons, all of whom were very active in school sports and other activities. My youngest is now a freshman in college and suddenly the flurry of high school football, baseball, indoor track meets, hosting pasta parties and attending awards dinners have all come to an abrupt halt. My wife and I are now struggling with how to continue to be helicopter parents from 250 miles away. In responding to this question, it occurs to me that I need a hobby. I know my son would probably appreciate it being something other than him.
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