A Look at Fraud from the Northern Perspective Eh?

The ACFE Canadian Fraud Conference presented global challenges and solutions

Posted by Dawn Lomer in on December 6th, 2011

Fraud is a fascinating topic and I love learning about it, but when I saw that the pre-conference session of last week’s ACFE Canadian Fraud Conference in Toronto was going to be four hours long, I was a little worried. Four hours is a long session, especially on a Sunday. But the speaker – author and investigation expert Don Rabon – hooked me so quickly that I knew within the first five minutes that I was going to learn something useful.

Rabon’s talk on detecting deception in words introduced me to some concepts that I hadn’t encountered in previous talks on similar subjects. He had us analyze statements, looking for examples of the words and structures he identified as possible signs of deception. Rabon was careful to clarify that the use of the words and structures in question were merely an indication of an area in a witness statement that might need some further probing. But I’ll never be able to say “as a matter of fact” or “I don’t remember” again without wondering who is analyzing whether I’m telling the truth.

I had an opportunity to interview Rabon after the session and he shared some of his thoughts about the qualities that make a good investigator. He also talked to me about some of the biggest mistakes investigators make when interviewing witnesses and suspects.

Future of Fraud

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President and CEO of the ACFE, James Ratley, gave the opening address on the future of fraud, revealing some alarming trends. He talked about the security issues posed by digital photocopiers and the fact that the average person is unaware that copiers store images on a hard drive, how cell phones can be used to track and monitor users, the use of laptop cameras to videotape people secretly, and other ways that technology is being used both to commit crimes and to catch criminals.

The several-hundred attendees at the conference, representing 13 different countries, also got a glimpse at some innovative technology for detecting crime, including a powerful license plate recognition system.

Today’s Challenges

In a session on electronic evidence, Deloitte’s Jean-Francois Legault talked about forensic collection and examination of data and the challenges of stored information. He stressed the importance of knowing where your data is when using SaaS, covered the use of social media evidence in investigations and examined network monitoring tools and fraud analytics.

I was lucky enough, thanks to ACFE Education Manager Allan Bachman, to sit with the lunchtime speaker, Carman Lapointe, Under-Secretary-General, OIOS at the UN. After her presentation on the significant challenges in her new role, she agreed to sit down with me for a brief interview before her flight back to New York. We talked about the challenges of conducting investigations in foreign countries and some of the hurdles she has encountered.

In a session on Generation Y, Sherry McCourt shared some thoughts on the thinking and behavior of those entering the workforce and how this affects fraud. Other speakers included lawyer David Debenham, who spoke about protecting investigations from the “black arts” and convicted felon Aaron Beam, who told the story of his participation in the HealthSouth fraud, describing it as a “wagon to disaster”.

A presentation by Reid Lester, a partner in Laishley Reed, examined the legal and cost-benefit perspective on recouping employee fraud losses. Look for an upcoming blog post on this topic, with information on how to decide whether to chase losses and what options there are for securing accounts and assets of employees under investigation.

In a panel discussion on the global challenges of bribery and corruption four panelists debated some of the issues surrounding current legislation and the difficulties companies encounter doing business overseas. And finally, financial crime author Jeffrey Robinson entertained and informed attendees with his perspective on today’s fraud schemes, introducing us to “honey fraud”, “fish fraud”, “soda can fraud” and, appropriately for the venue: “maple syrup fraud”.


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.