Interview with a Fraud Investigator

Interviewee: Julia

Title: Fraud Investigator in a Public Agency

1. What do you do?

I have been an employee for a County Welfare Agency for thirty one years. I was a caseworker for the first six years, and a Fraud Investigator for the last 25 years. My primary responsibility is to conduct elaborate, confidential and routine investigations of assigned public assistance cases in which there is an alleged fraudulent receipt of Public Assistance. These investigations may be referred from the following sources: Public, agency employees, state, and federal allegations.

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I testify on my completed cases in Grand Jury and Administrative Law Hearings. If a case proceeds to trial, I would also be expected to testify. Many cases conclude with a fraud and non-fraud overpayment. I am responsible for the pursuit of the reimbursement of the overpayment. Investigations occur in the office and out in the field. Investigations are a result of an allegation where a client may not report the following: child not in the home, father or mother in the home with sources of income, household size, self-employment, trafficking of Snap benefits (Food Stamps), residing out of county or state, duplication of assistance between counties or states, earned income, unearned income.

What education or training prepared you for your career?

I went to college for Music and Arts Degrees. I was specializing in flute and then jewelry design. Art and music have always been my primary passions. Due to financial concerns, I left college to pursue a career in the fitness industry, my second passion.

I managed two health clubs and was a sole owner of a fitness center. After closing the fitness center, I went on to be a caseworker for my current employer. In hindsight, all of the above laid the ground work for self-reliance, determination, development of people skills, and mostly development of sharp analytical skills.

How did you get your start in your career?

I applied for the caseworker job title through a civil service web site in my state. I had to test for the job. Fortunately, I did well on the written test and the face to face interview and was hired as a caseworker. The experience I gained as a caseworker further honed skills in interviewing, gathering and analyzing evidence, and applying proper procedures for the issuance of Public Assistance benefits. An Investigator test was offered to all caseworkers. I placed high on the test and interviewed for the job. This was a promotion.

What qualities should a person possess going into this career field?

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I have observed many investigators throughout my career. This includes my agency investigators and outside law enforcement agencies that I have worked with over the years.

In my opinion, the most outstanding investigators have attained the following qualities: confident, independent, determined, competent, analytical, factual, comfortable with all kinds of people, unbiased, great interviewers, detailed, street smart / business savvy, highly sensitive as in a developed “sixth sense”, and know the law in their area of expertise. Some of these qualities can be inert or developed. No one starts out in this career possessing all of them. However, only the most outstanding investigators will eventually possess them in the pursuit of excellence.