ACFE Conference Reveals the Latest Fraud Detection Methods

The odds are against the fraudsters when the experts get together to share information

Posted by Dawn Lomer in on June 28th, 2013

They are onto you. Whether you are a cyber-criminal stealing corporate IP, an employee padding your expenses or a CEO cooking the books, today’s CFEs have the tools and knowledge at their fingertips to stay ahead of your schemes. Nowhere could this be more obvious than at this week’s Annual ACFE Global Fraud Conference, from which I have just returned.

Welcome to Our Network

One of the recurring themes at this year’s conference was cybercrime, and the methods criminals use to commit it. In a presentation on BYOD and BYON, President of Investigations MD, Walt Manning, warned of the dangers of having employees connect mobile devices to a company’s network. Manning described some of the security issues that come with BYOD, emphasizing an employee’s ability to create a hotspot on his or her i-phone.

“You’ve created a wireless doorway into your corporate network that can be accessed as far away as three miles,” he warned. But look at these issues “not for problems, but for opportunities,” he advised, stressing that training employees on the security issues of open networks and remote devices is critical.

Dodgy Drivers Lose Cargo

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In an informative presentation on cargo theft, insurance executive Jeff Lieberman and CFE Don Finch outlined some of the schemes and challenges that come with investigating them. One of the biggest challenges is the shortage of high quality drivers available. With a predicted shortage in the next few years of 300,000 and estimated turnover of 100 per cent a year, it’s not surprising that cargo companies forego background checks and take chances with dodgy drivers in order to get their cargo delivered. Unfortunately, it frequently comes back to haunt them as Lieberman estimates that 85 to 90 per cent of the cargo loss cases he sees involve the driver.

Fraudsters Helping Fraudsters

Ryan Hubbs’s enlightening presentation on the online tools used by fraudsters was riveting. As he showed pages and pages of websites that specialize in ways to help people commit fraud, it became clear that anyone, even uncreative and unintelligent people, can cheat and steal with the help of these online partners who are not only intelligent, but incredibly ballsy.

Hubbs, a dynamic and articulate speaker, really brought the topic to life as he rolled through tool after tool for hacking, creating fake websites, committing credit card fraud, creating fake identities, perfecting billing schemes, using reference scams, washing checks, creating fake invoices, etc. The volume of help available to those who wish to cheat, lie and steal, is staggering, and Hubbs gave examples of how to detect and prevent the schemes.

The Inside View

International (well, Canadian) man of intrigue, Chris Mathers, kept the audience in his general session entertained with crime stories and jokes, but made some good observations based on his years of experience operating undercover to penetrate criminal networks for the RCMP, US DEA and the US Customs Service.

People do not get into fraud late in life, said Mathers. Rather, they begin making bad small decisions early in life that lead to bigger and bigger ones. He’s not the first crime expert to say this, but he comes at it from a different viewpoint. And did it with humor, as tweeters on the #FraudConf stream pointed out.

Internal and External Threats

Cary Moore, in his presentation about cyber threats, identified five or six different characters within a company as its internal threats, explaining how they, either intentionally or unintentionally, contribute to corporate data theft. He provided solid examples of what to look for to detect these operators within a company, and identified some expected and unexpected ways that data could be leaving the company.

Some of the lesser-known methods he showed us included information buried in photos and in QR codes, and USB transfer cables that are not always detectable by network security programs. Another dynamic and creative presenter, Moore kept his audience engaged with his enthusiasm for the topic.

More to Come

There was more, much more. And it was a lot to absorb in just a couple of days in the Nevada mayhem that is Las Vegas, an unlikely, yet somehow fitting, venue for a fraud conference. Of the several ACFE conferences I’ve attended over the past few years, this one was the best, with top quality speakers, relevant topics, flawless event organization and a beautiful venue, the Aria Resort & Casino. Watch this space for upcoming blog posts based on what I learned from the many people I spoke to at the conference.


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.

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