Technology in Investigations a Focus at the ACFE Fraud Conference

For good or for evil, technology rules the world

Posted by Dawn Lomer in on June 19th, 2014

If there was an underlying theme at the 2014 ACFE Fraud Conference in San Antonio, it would have to be the use of technology in investigations. Technology was everywhere, starting with the conference app that could be downloaded beforehand. The app showed the user’s schedule, the entire conference schedule, maps, news, messages, photos, speaker bios, exhibitors list, attendees, presentation materials and other handy information. It was a great example of how technology can make life easier. But the technology theme didn’t stop at the conference tools.

Aside from the speakers who are known to tackle the technology topics, such as Cynthia Hetherington and Jean-Francois Legault, and those who often speak on data analytics and computer forensics, others, more commonly known for their focus on soft skills, jumped the fence to tech topics.

Interviewing Technology

Take, for example, Don Rabon’s session on incorporating digital technology into the interviewing process. Not only was this topic a departure from Rabon’s popular interviewing skills themes that focus on the human interaction side of investigations, but it also brought up some challenges that put into a unique perspective the topics he normally teaches. Technology used in the interviewing process can undermine the very things that Rabon urges investigators to focus on, such as reading a person’s non-verbal cues.

FREE Investigation Report Template

Prepare thorough, consistent investigation reports with our free report template.

Download Template
“Is all we’ve learned going to be relevant as we go into the future, when we start communicating with each other through two plastic screens?” he asked. He pointed out several challenges that “going from face-to-face to screen-to-screen” will pose, such as:

  • Building rapport
  • Reading non-verbal cues
  • Keeping a subject’s attention
  • Presenting documents or evidence
  • Complying with laws applicable in different locations

He talked about a future where subjects might be interviewed by an avatar who looks like them – the literal use of the mirroring technique. But in-person interaction is still critical in many interview situations and interviews via the internet are likely to be delegated to low-risk cases.

Interviewing subjects remotely is surely a time and money-saving tactic that could be used for cross-border investigations. But by their nature, cross-border investigations are likely to be among the riskier types, especially when they involve FCPA violations. And the topic was conspicuously absent from Leah Lane’s session on the logistics of international investigations, probably for that very reason.

Code is Power

It was Marc Goodman’s riveting lunchtime address on Tuesday that brought present and future technology into alarming perspective. With an annual cost of 400 billion dollars, cybercrime poses the most danger to the world economy today. Goodman illustrated this through examples of how cybercrininals are stealing intellectual property, hacking companies and individuals and even using quad-copter drones with heat-seeking technology to target grow-houses for burglaries. “If you control the code, you control the world,” he said.

For a company that makes investigative case management software, maybe that’s not all bad news.

Dawn Lomer
Dawn Lomer

Managing Editor

Dawn Lomer is the managing editor at i-Sight Software and a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE). She writes about topics related to workplace investigations, ethics and compliance, data security and e-discovery, and hosts i-Sight webinars.