Basics of Workplace Fraud Investigation
There are many ways to begin a fraud investigation, but most professionals know to start with the basics. A competent fraud investigation needs to determine if fraud has been committed. The basic steps will establish if there is a case to investigate.
Typically in the past, most fraud cases could be discovered through a review of paperwork, including checks, contracts, and insurance forms. In today’s electronic age, though, digital files are of the highest concern. Special software programs can be used to detect unusual activity in a computer system. Analyzing that software data will alert a trained investigator to problems.
Along with files, investigators will search for physical evidence, from fingerprints to stolen items, including credit cards and cash. Investigators will need to interview everyone involved in the fraud, including company executives, financial managers, and administrative employees. Testimony from interviews can be compared to check for inconsistencies. Background checks will also give investigators a more complete record of employees.
In addition to current information, investigators look at past records. This may include previous audits or investigations, records of former employees who may have been terminated for suspicious behavior, and security log-in books. Digital transactions leave behind a trail of digital footprints. Many criminals do not necessarily understand that digital footprints can be followed. Many companies use software programs to monitor all keyboard strokes on employees’ computers.
Laying the foundation for a workplace fraud investigation takes time and patience. Following basic steps to build a case is necessary in order to establish whether fraud has been committed. Professional fraud investigators use all the tools at their disposal to look at evidence. Strong documentation of the steps taken in the case demonstrates investigative skill. They know that building a solid case in the beginning of the investigation based on facts will support the conclusions drawn about the situation.