A fraud investigator reviews the evidence and investigates allegations of fraud. Their investigative work may require them to interview those that may have information about the fraud, analyze documentation (paper trails), report their findings, and finally testify what their investigation revealed. Additional titles people in this profession may hold include: fraud examiner, financial investigator, and forensic accountant.
How to Become a Fraud Investigator
Over 70% of the fraud investigators surveyed reported to hold a bachelor’s degree with just over 10% earning a master’s degree. Some reported having earned a certification after obtaining their bachelor’s degree. A degree in finance can prepare you for a career investigating fraud.
Read this interview with Julia, a Fraud Investigator for a public government 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.
I testify on my completed cases in the Grand Jury and Administrative Law Hearings. If a case proceeds to trial, I would also be expected to testify. Many cases conclude with 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 the 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 groundwork 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?
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.
Job Description of a Fraud Investigator
Let’s look at an actual fraud investigator’s job description posted by the Department of Labor. This job announcement is looking for an Employee Benefit’s Investigator to perform the following tasks:
The incumbent conducts or participates in moderately difficult civil and criminal investigations focusing on the analysis of employee pension and welfare benefit plan operations and the business, financial and accounting practices of a variety of related entities (e.g., bank trust departments, investment managers, insurance companies, and other service providers). In so doing, the incumbent performs a range of activities required to assess the fiduciary conduct and/or criminal actions of plan officials and service providers; and, the appropriateness of financial investment of plan monies, and compliance with the ERISA reporting, disclosure, and bonding standards and the requirements of related civil and criminal federal and state civil and criminal statutes. regulations, interpretations, administrative and court rulings.
The incumbent independently plans and conducts complex civil and criminal investigations focusing on the analysis of employee pension and welfare benefit plan operations and the business, financial and accounting practices of a variety of related entities (e.g., bank trust departments, investment managers, insurance companies, and other service providers). In so doing, the incumbent performs a range of activities required to: 1) assess the fiduciary conduct and/or criminal actions of plan officials and service providers; 2) determine the appropriateness of investment of plan monies; and, 3) evaluate compliance with the ERISA reporting, disclosure, and bonding standards and the requirements and related civil and criminal federal and state laws.
This position was posted to run 12/05/2018 until 12/18/2018 with a salary of $70,111 to $109,245 per year on USAjobs.gov, part of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
National Center for O*NET Development. 13-2099.04. O*NET OnLine.