Before conducting a fraud investigation, a financial investigator will consult with the client to discuss their situation and determine what assistance is needed.
A retainer agreement is prepared, describing the scope of the proposed investigation and its estimated cost and timeline. Upon client approval and payment of the retainer, the investigation will proceed.
The initial inquiries by the investigative team — led by a Certified Fraud Examiner — will focus on verifying whether there is material evidence of financial fraud.
Relevant records are gathered and analyzed. The nature of the scheme is explored and the extent of financial losses are documented. If the fraud is ongoing, specific controls and countermeasures may be recommended to protect the client from the threat of further damages.
Once the nature and extent of the scheme is exposed — and major pieces of the financial puzzle are mapped out — the investigative team will focus efforts on positively identifying the parties responsible.
If appropriate, interviews of potential suspects and witnesses will be conducted. Interview statements are examined for consistency. Conflicting or contradictory accounts are evaluated for corroborating details and weighed against evidence obtained through independent fact-finding, including considerations of motive, means and opportunity. Complex investigations such as corporate corruption and bribery probes might include a series of re-interviews. As the final step in this process, an admission-seeking inquiry is conducted with the principal suspect.
Investigation of online frauds and international syndicates often requires piercing multiple layers of fictitious personas, alter egos and stolen identities used by fraudsters to evade detection and maintain anonymity.
The personal, professional and financial backgrounds of the responsible parties will be thoroughly investigated. Special attention is paid to any documented pattern of past involvement in other fraud schemes. Relevant areas of inquiry include criminal history, civil litigation and regulatory enforcement actions. Evidence of financial pressures may be found in bankruptcies, liens, foreclosures, evictions, debt collections and tax liabilities.
If there are plans to pursue civil litigation or criminal prosecution, then the current whereabouts and confirmed addresses of responsible parties will also be developed and verified.
A comprehensive asset investigation will identify financial holdings of the responsible parties and any companies they control. The scope of the asset search can include bank accounts, investments, business interests and personal trusts, as well as any property, conveyed to close associates or family members. Expenditures and personal wealth that grossly exceed legitimate income sources serve as further proof of ill-gotten gains.
These findings are used to support stronger settlement outcomes, financial restitution and post-judgment collection.
If the responsible parties refuse to return the client’s funds, the findings of the fraud investigation can be coordinated with legal counsel, law enforcement and regulatory authorities.
The expert investigation report becomes a critical tool for civil litigation and criminal prosecution, providing an easy-to-follow roadmap of complex schemes, bolstered by the testimony of a licensed investigator.
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Source: Fraud Investigation