Top 6 Interview Tips for Corporate Fraud Investigations

Top 6 Interview Tips for Corporate Fraud Investigations

In today’s economic climate, corporate fraud is rife on all levels, and though it often goes undetected, it can be catastrophically damaging to both individuals and corporations. PwC’s Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey reports, internal perpetrators represent nearly half of all reported frauds.

Learn more about the different types of fraud in our 4-part series of corporate fraud where we cover:

Also, take a look at our blog: Top 6 Internal Investigations Pitfalls to Avoid in order to avoid making the same mistakes and to protect against risk.

A corporate fraud investigation is essential to gather evidence, identify defendants and trace misappropriated assets. When interviewing the suspect, an interviewer’s questions may lead directly to the truth or to a web of deception. A good interviewer applies a variety of techniques to ensure that the interview yields the most accurate and truthful answers.

This blog will cover Top 6 Interview Tips for Corporate Fraud Investigations.

Start with Background Questions

Every fraud interview should start as a simple conversation. The goal is to learn some background information while building rapport with the interviewee. After stating the purpose of the interview, start with questions regarding the interviewee’s background, including:

  • How long have you been at the company?
  • What job titles have you had, and what are the responsibilities of your current title?
  • What is your normal day like? Normal week? Normal month?

Once certain responsibilities of the interviewee have been established, ask for some detail on their tasks. Ask questions like:

  • How do you personally stay organised? What tasks do you prioritise?
  • When performing the month-end reconciliations, when are they due? Who reviews your work? Do they ever have review points? Do they sign off promptly?
  • Who covers your responsibilities if you’re out? Who do you interact with the most in the office on a daily basis? Who do you rely on to provide the data/documentation for you to be able to complete your tasks?

Spending the time to learn about the interviewee and the responsibilities of their position will set a nice tone for the interview. Encouraging the interviewee to talk about themselves helps earn some trust and develop rapport. Through this line of questioning, information can be learned about their position within the company and exposure to other employees, processes and controls. This can be valuable to the current interview and other interviews conducted throughout the investigation. It is important to start with background questions and to remain calm despite the stress that may come along with investigating a potential case of corporate fraud.

Set a Relaxed Tone

Sit across from the interviewee if possible, and assume a relaxed physical position. Use a smile and direct eye contact to begin the interview with a light and relaxed mood because dealing with a potential case of corporate fraud can be stressful for everyone involved. Use some summarised notes to keep you organised for the interview, but employ them as little as possible to keep from appearing disinterested or unengaged. Writing notes throughout the interview is typically necessary, but they should be written down quickly and in a summarised fashion, so as not to cause alarm or appear concealing to the interviewee.

Explain who you are and the purpose of the interview. Don’t lie about the reason you are talking, but keep it light. Examples might include:

  • “This is just a standard part of our internal control procedures for the audit”
  • “We just need to understand further details about a specific financial area, and you are one of the people we were told to speak to”
  • “These interviews are all just part of an improvement study for certain systems/processes”

It is unnecessary to explicitly state the possibility of corporate fraud, especially because none of this is confirmed. The purpose of a successful investigation, is to derive accurate information rather than pro/disprove a potential case of corporate fraud. Start the interview by asking the interviewee how long they’ve been with the company. Ask what their specific job responsibilities are, who they report to, what a typical day is like for them. Earn their trust by listening and asking open-ended questions to allow them to keep speaking. Interviewees inherently become more comfortable when asked to speak about themselves, as well as when someone takes an interest in what they do each day. Ask for more detail when they speak of certain forms, lists, software or interactions that they have throughout the day.

The first 5 minutes of any one-on-one interview is the most crucial phase. You can create trust or distrust within the interviewee within seconds, based on your demeanour, attitude, and physical appearance.

Ask the Right Questions

Many interviewers tend to follow a script when performing interviews. Typically this list of questions is universal to all interviews for the day and asks common questions about seeing or reporting corporate fraud, seeing or reporting strange or unusual behaviour, etc. Although straightforward in nature, these questions will rarely get an interviewee to divulge information that the interviewer may find useful or informative. An interviewer can ask more appropriate questions throughout an interview that fulfil the requirements of these questions, without asking them verbatim.

Using specific questions about unusual behaviour in each of the interviewee’s job responsibility areas may be much more effective than a general question of abnormal activity within the organisation. Instead of asking a payroll clerk whether she knows of or has seen any cases of corporate fraud within the organisation, it makes much more sense to ask whether she has seen any odd entries or deletions in the payroll system, whether she’s ever been asked to override the system in some manner, what weaknesses exist within the hiring/termination process and whether past errors in timekeeping and paychecks were handled appropriately.

Use the following tips and lines of questioning to strengthen your interviews:

  • Converse about an interviewee’s daily responsibilities using open-ended questions regarding atypical situations that might occur, and brainstorm with the interviewee about weaknesses in the process and how a corporate fraud or scheme could occur.
  • Identify specific interviewee responsibilities that are prone to fraud and ask about instances in which they struggled to complete their tasks or had issues related to abnormalities within the process.
  • Ask about areas that the interviewee used to be responsible for in the past that have since been taken away from them, and understand the reasoning behind the change.
  • Ask what changes the interviewee would make to the process if they were in charge, and why.
  • Ask the interviewee the main thing about their job that “keeps them up at night.” Typically, areas that concern or worry an employee the most may have levels of uncertainty that are indicative of risk, misstatement, or fraud.
  • Finally, begin asking whether they have seen corporate fraud or unusual behaviour within any of the areas they work in, or in other departments.

By empowering the interviewee throughout the interview, you not only develop a trusted rapport with them, but you initiate a thought process within them that is more likely to remember and report anomalies from the past.

Dive into Deeper Questions

Once deep into an interview for a potential case of corporate fraud, interviewers are in a good position to start asking the harder questions. If this is a general fraud interview with no suspicion of corporate fraud, it’s time to ask the direct questions, such as:

  • Have you participated in or witnessed fraudulent or questionable behaviour within the company?
  • Have you ever been asked to participate in or ignore a fraudulent act with the company?
  • Are there any activities of the company that you consider fraudulent, immoral or criminal?

If this is a corporate fraud investigation with specific allegations, now is the time to begin focusing on the known allegations, as well as any inconsistencies within the interview. Interviewers may want to begin to cross-reference their responsibilities with the information shared at the beginning of the interview, such as how they stay organised, who they report to, etc.

At the beginning of the interview, interviewees may exaggerate their responsibilities, motivated by a desire to tell the interviewer what they think they want to hear. But as the interviewer asks more questions and gets into more of the details of their responsibilities, shortcuts may be revealed, tasks they complete that aren’t reviewed, checks and balances that are being ignored or areas where their story just doesn’t add up. A good interviewer won’t let these items pass by. As these discrepancies are identified and real processes are clarified, interviewers should develop a clearer picture of the company, the likelihood of fraud and the potential involvement of the interviewee.

Remain Objective

With any investigation into allegations of corporate fraud or workplace misconduct, it is imperative that the investigator maintains a neutral and objective approach, and does not make “cut corners” in the investigation process. Following the proper procedurally fair process will not only ensure that your investigation is beyond unfounded criticism, it will also mean that you are being truly diligent in obtaining, collating, comparing and critically examining the evidence and making reliable conclusions on it.

Ensure Clarity

One major shortcoming in inexperienced fraud interviewers is their reluctance to reconfirm statements, revisit subjects and ask for more examples. Often, interviewers don’t like to give the impression that they don’t understand or need a second explanation, but this step is crucial to a successful interview. Revisiting a subject multiple times and asking for more examples not only provides clarity, but can also identify inconsistencies in the interviewee’s statements. Interviewers should regularly go back through the details of a certain procedure or process that the interviewee has already explained, asking for more detail and examples, with questions like:

  • I don’t understand this specific process. Can you explain to me what the senior accountant’s role is again?
  • It doesn’t make sense to me that the checks are signed without the supporting documentation present. Can you walk me through the process again so I can understand the timing of the review?

The least of an interviewer’s worries should be looking uninformed or foolish. Nothing should get in the way of gaining a full understanding of what the interviewee is explaining.

How Polonious can help you fight corporate fraud

Corporate fraud is a risk to all businesses regardless of size or industry. Being able to conduct an effective internal investigation is essential for the day-to-day operation of your organisation. There are countless tools you can use to run investigations more efficiently and effectively. 

A well-conducted internal investigation helps ensure that those who have engaged in improper conduct are identified as having done so, and are dealt with appropriately. It can also ensure that those who have been wrongly suspected or accused of having engaged in improper conduct have their circumstances clarified and the suspicion removed. Polonious provides an investigation workflow tool which creates consistent, procedurally fair investigations while minimising admin work through automation.

Polonious’ ISO27001 certified security ensures your evidence and case files are stored securely, while our detailed security configuration ensures you can keep employees fully anonymous, or known only to specific individuals, depending on the level of anonymity requested.

An effective internal investigation helps reinforce better workplaces and protects the company from large fines, damages, negative publicity, etc. As the fraud environment becomes increasingly complex, we can help you detect and prevent corporate fraud by ensuring effective corporate governance.

A corporate fraud investigation is essential to gather evidence, identify defendants and trace misappropriated assets. These Top 6 Interview Tips for Corporate Fraud Investigations will teach you a variety of techniques to ensure that the interview yields the most accurate and truthful answers.

A corporate fraud investigation is essential to gather evidence, identify defendants and trace misappropriated assets.

These Top 6 Interview Tips for Corporate Fraud Investigations will teach you a variety of techniques to ensure that the interview yields the most accurate and truthful answers.

With any investigation into allegations of workplace misconduct, it is imperative that the investigator maintains a neutral and objective approach, and does not make “cut corners” in the investigation process.

With any investigation into allegations of corporate fraud and/or workplace misconduct, it is imperative that the investigator maintains a neutral and objective approach, and does not make “cut corners” in the investigation process.

Book a Demo Now

Learn more on how Polonious helps clients run successful investigations

22 Free and Affordable Tools for Investigators

22 Free and Affordable Tools for Investigators

In today’s technological world, it is almost guaranteed that there is an app for everything. In addition to personal use, apps have professional applications as well.

Investigators have at their fingertips a plethora of useful tools and resources, from software and smartphone apps to digital research resources, state-of-the-art communications technology and nifty surveillance gadgets

However, these can be extremely costly and not be feasible options for many investigators. Fortunately, there are thousands of free and cheap resources that can help you conduct your investigations more efficiently and effectively.

This blog will outline 22 Free and Affordable Tools for Investigators.

Tools for Planning Investigations

  • Calendar Apps

Google Calendar

Because Google Calendar is linked to your Gmail account, you can seamlessly access your calendar anywhere and from any device. For extra convenience, events are automatically added from your Gmail to your Calendar.

Microsoft Outlook Calendar

Outlook combines email, calendar, and contacts in one application. This is a great calendar app for those who are Microsoft users.

Apple Calendar

Apple Calendar is the default calendar on Macs, iPhones and iPads. Everything syncs by default using iCloud, or you can set up Apple Calendar to sync with Google Calendar, Microsoft Exchange, Yahoo, and any calendar platform that uses CalDAV. Setting this up is as easy as connecting an email client app to another email account.

Tools for Conducting Research

There are many types of evidence to consider during a workplace investigation, take a look at our blog to understand the 6 types of evidence you may encounter and how you can use them.

  • Open Source Intelligence (OSINT)

Open Source Intelligence, often abbreviated as OSINT, is data and information that is collected legally from open and publicly available resources. Obtaining the information doesn’t require any type of clandestine effort and it is retrieved in a manner that is legal and meets copyright requirements.

Open-source data and information are available in a variety of places, most of which are accessible via the internet. Examples include:

  • Public records databases
  • Government reports, documents, and websites
  • The internet
  • Mass media (e.g. newspapers, TV, radio, magazines, and websites)
  • Social networks, social media sites, user account profiles, posts, and tags
  • Maps and commercial imagery
  • Photos, images, videos

Take a look at other ways you can dig deeper than a web search to conduct better investigations. While there’s a lot of free information that is accessible, there are paid tools that can make searching all of these things easier. Our Polonious Configurers understand how to access the deep case data and can share many examples of how to use it with your team. Take a look at some of the tools we already integrate with in our blog.

  • Capturing Online Data

Using the Web for conducting research is the new norm, but there’s a risk associated with collecting data and information this way. When you do find what you’re looking for online, you’ll need to capture it before it’s been modified, hidden, or erased. Luckily, there are free investigation tools for this.

CamStudio

Record all screen and audio activity that takes place on your computer and easily turn them into AVI video files that can be saved and shared. Camstudio is free for personal and professional use.

Screencast-o-Matic

Alternatively, Screencast-o-Matic captures your screen’s activity and, if you use your webcam, you can customise your video with narration. There are both free and pro options with varying features.

Veed Screen Recorder

Capture your screen and/or webcam activity using your choice of layout. Then, edit your recording with Veed’s online video editor. You can even add layers, subtitles and images. Veed is free to use.

  1. Digital Forensics Tools

Digital evidence can exist on a number of different platforms and in many different forms. Forensic investigation often includes analysis of files, emails, network activity and other potential artifacts and sources of clues to the scope, impact and attribution of an incident.

4Discovery

4Discovery offers different options to extract metadata (document history, usage, authors and contributors), look at USB history and much more. 

Google Takeout Convertor

Google Takeout Convertor ​​converts archived email messages from Google Takeout along with all attachments. This software helps investigate officers to extract, process, and interpret the factual evidence.

Tools for Investigation Interviews

  1. Recording Interviews

Digital Recorder

Use a digital recorder to record your interviews with minimal background noise. 

Memory stick and voice recorder

The greatest advantage of digital voice recorders over older digital tape recorders is that they have no moving parts, which make a lot of noise. Thus, your interview recordings are crisp and clear.

Tripod Phone Holder

Today’s smartphones have great cameras, great audio recording capabilities and tons of storage. Use your phone to videotape investigations with a tripod phone holder.

Tools for Writing Investigation Reports

  1. Report Writing

Grammarly

Grammarly scans your text for common grammatical mistakes (like misused commas) and complex ones (like misplaced modifiers). Ensure that your report is free from typos and grammatical errors.

ProWriting Aid

ProWriting Aid offers world-class grammar and style checking, combined with more in-depth reports to help you strengthen your writing. This tool can enhance the readability of your document.

  1. Scan, send and documenting files

Evernote Scannable

Scan contracts, receipts, business cards, and any paper that comes your way quickly and efficiently. Then, save or send these high-quality scans by email. If you already have Evernote, you’ll love this app. 

Text Grabber

TextGrabber easily and quickly scans, translates and saves your chosen text or QR-codes from virtually any printed material. This app can also translate.

Additionally, take a look at Documenting a Workplace Investigation: 3 Things to Know to better understand relevant laws, key documents to record and benefits of proper documentation and record keeping practices.

Tools for Managing Investigations

  1. Reminder and Monitoring Tools

Google Alerts

Set up an alert on the subject’s name, nickname and alias to monitor what they’re up to and receive notifications when new results appear.

Mention

Pick a couple of keywords (names) to keep an eye on and Mention monitors the web and social networks. The app then sends alerts daily or weekly.

  1. File Sharing and Collaboration Tools

Drop Box

This software offers secure file sharing and storage solutions. Packages include Dropbox Basic for infrequent, basic investigations, and Dropbox Business with extra storage and enterprise-level support.

Google Drive

With Google’s file storage and synchronisation service, you’ll get access to all of your files from anywhere on any device. Share it with anyone who has a Gmail and let them view, download and collaborate.

  1. Securing Files

Veracrypt

Add enhanced security with on-the-fly encryption (OTFE) to protect your important files online and offline.

AxCrypt

This app offers strong encryption, password management and multilingual interfaces. For added convenience, AxCrypt lets you collaborate with others, store your files in the cloud and access your encrypted files from your phone.

How Polonious Can Help Investigators

Although Office Tools have uses, take a look at our blog to understand why everyday office apps like word processors and spreadsheets are not up to the task for real-world investigation teams. Polonious ensures there is a single framework that controls the workflow, security, reporting and audit requirements necessary for every investigation.

Being able to conduct an effective internal investigation is essential for the day-to-day operation of your organisation. A well-conducted internal investigation helps ensure that those who have engaged in improper conduct are identified as having done so, and are dealt with appropriately. It can also ensure that those who have been wrongly suspected or accused of having engaged in improper conduct have their circumstances claried and the suspicion removed.

Companies will often establish an internal investigation in response to significant events or allegations of wrongdoing. However, minor errors can lead to significant repercussions for employees, employers and companies alike. However, these can be prevented by following the best practices while utilising the right tools. Take a look at our blog to understand common pitfalls in internal investigations so you can avoid them.

For instance, all physical evidence must be stored securely and logged. Digital evidence needs to be authenticated, captured, preserved and stored somewhere as well. The Polonious case management system allows investigators and HR teams to document evidence and important documents in a secure, organised and accessible manner. 

Polonious’ ISO27001 certified security ensures your evidence and case files are stored securely, while our detailed security configuration ensures you can keep employees fully anonymous, or known only to specific individuals, depending on the level of anonymity requested.

The main drawbacks with using office tools for investigations is there is no single source of truth. To understand what has happened, many systems need to be accessed and, adding to the problem, there is no single security framework. Spreadsheets rarely have direct links to the source data and can easily be manipulated over time. Don’t forget security is an ever increasing concern and using disparate solutions increases that risk across an organisation.

If you have stretched the limits of what is possible with office tools and are starting to experience the fundamental problems with them, Polonious can help you move on to our dedicated case and investigations management platform.

This blog will introduce you to 22 Free and Affordable Tools for Investigators.

This blog will introduce you to 22 Free and Affordable Tools for Investigators.

Polonious ensures a secure and consistent framework that controls the workflow, security, reporting and audit requirements necessary for every investigation.

Polonious ensures a secure and consistent framework that controls the workflow, security, reporting and audit requirements necessary for every investigation.

Book a Demo Now

Would you like to see how Polonious’ can help you with investigation reports?

Investigation insights: Get the best performance measurement factors

Investigation insights: Get the best performance measurement factors

Polonious_Investigation Insights Study Cover

During the International Association of Special Investigation Units (IASIU) conference held virtually on September 14 and 15, 2020, Polonious ran a panel discussion with some of the world’s leading investigation professionals. Investigation Insights contains new research into the performance, effectiveness and challenges of special investigation units, and communicates how better insights can drive improvements in productivity. You can download the full report here.

In this blog, we will look at the factors by which investigators measure the performance of their SIU and them impact they have.

To gather performance insights, we asked survey respondents to describe the factors by which they measure the performance of their SIU and found that they were largely as we would expect, though there were some concerns.

Referrals can mask real SIU performance

The overwhelming majority of respondents (80%) use number of referrals as a performance measure. When considered alongside the percentage of false positives, this is only a measure of how much work the SIU is doing clearing those cases — not a measure of how much value the SIU is providing.

For example, if you are an SIU with more than 40 per cent false referrals, as some of our respondents appear to be, then your true performance figure — the referrals that result in savings — is less than 60 per cent of your total referrals.

The next most commonly used metric is whether or not fraud is determined, which was used by 55 per cent of respondents. This is getting closer to reporting on actual value — cases where fraud was found and, we can assume, savings were made — but it is not quantifying those savings. This means you might be finding a lot of small fraud, which is good, but the ROI of your budget on those cases might not be there.

However, Figure 10 shows the range of individual measures employed, which we have itemised for illustrative purposes. Respondents could give multiple answers, and most, if not all, sensibly use a combination of measures.

There were also around 40 to 50 per cent of units using the percentage of claims investigated, and percentage referred to a department of investigations (DOI), and another 25 per cent reporting on recovered premiums and 40 per cent reported specifically measuring for ROI.

So, for example, measuring the total number of referrals combined with a percentage of investigations, and a percentage of referrals to DOI, would give a reasonable picture of SIU performance.

However, in terms of value provided to your organisation, the ROI — costs on investigations versus savings on claims — is an easily recognisable measure to claims executives.

Figure 10: Measures used by organisations to calculate the performance of the SIU

Figure 10: Measures used by organisations to calculate the performance of the SIU

 

Many respondents also report on indirect performance measures (see Figure 11) such as training and deterrent effects.

Figure 11: Performance activities not directly related to investigations

 

A bit more than half (53.33%) report on fraud deterrent effects, and 60 per cent report on training they provide for other staff on detecting and preventing fraud. Two thirds of respondents (66.67%) report on various other non-fraud related activities, but for this survey we did not go into further detail of what they were.

The contribution of these indirect activities to financial performance is harder to measure. However, it speaks to the proactive work that SIUs are doing to prevent fraud, which is very encouraging.

Investigation insights: How to take hold of referral sources

Investigation insights: How to take hold of referral sources

Polonious_Investigation Insights Study Cover

During the International Association of Special Investigation Units (IASIU) conference held virtually on September 14 and 15, 2020, Polonious ran a panel discussion with some of the world’s leading investigation professionals. Investigation Insights contains new research into the performance, effectiveness and challenges of special investigation units, and communicates how better insights can drive improvements in productivity. You can download the full report here.

In this blog, we will review how referrals are garnered and why it is important to vet them properly.

When respondents were asked how cases were referred to them for investigation their responses were somewhat predictable. Most SIUs (85%) get referrals from claims units. Beyond that, other methods of sourcing referrals were reasonably evenly spread.

 

Figure 3: How cases are referred for investigation

 

Automated tools such as analytics engines using predictive analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence and rules-based algorithms are employed by 50 per cent of organisations, 60 per cent use fraud hotlines, and 65 per cent said they seek out cases proactively.
It is important to note though, that we did not ask what proportion of cases are referred from each of these sources.

A big surprise for us was that around half (52.63%) of respondents did not record the number of false positive referrals they receive — those that, on first glance from an experienced investigator, are clearly not going to go anywhere — from either an analytics tool or their claims unit.

 

Figure 4: Keeping track of false positives

 

A smaller but still significant percentage (38.89%) told us that when they did receive a false positive they did not feed the information back to the analytics tool in order to improve referrals.

Triaging referrals

There will always be claims that legitimately warrant suspicion but, upon investigation, turn out to be valid. Where you want to draw the line on level of suspicion is a matter for each SIU. You may only want to investigate “slam dunks”, or those with a 100 per cent strike rate, but risk a lot of potential fraud slipping through. Or you may want to investigate every possible case, but end up spending a lot of time on claims that turn out to be valid.

This triage process might not take a long time — but even if it takes about five minutes per case, after 100 false positives, you have lost a whole day of work. In SIUs with high case volumes, this adds up. And in SIUs with low case volumes, there is likely not much budget to waste on spinning wheels.
At a minimum, reporting on raw numbers can identify some inefficiencies before putting pressure on investigators.

Compare this to the SIUs that did record false positives. About a sixth of those respondents had between 21 and 40 per cent of referrals as false positives, while a full quarter reported that between 41 and 60 per cent of their referrals turned out to be false positives.

 

Polonious SIU Metrics Report Figure5

Figure 5: What percentage of referrals are false positives

 

While this was just a quick questionnaire with a small sample size (only 12 respondents for this question), if the numbers are representative of the wider industry there is a big proportion of SIUs where around half their cases should not even have been referred to them for investigation. What’s more, around half of them would not even know a referral was a false positive.

As mentioned above, of the units that track false positives, almost 40 per cent are not feeding these back into the detection tool, so we would hope that these are not the units receiving 41 to 60 per cent false positives.

 

Figure 6: Proportion of organisations feeding results back into fraud detection tools

 

Analytics tools work by learning the flags for fraud — either through AI or through analysts updating the rules as they receive data. If false positives are not being fed back into these tools, they cannot update the rules, and they are going to keep sending you bad cases.

If you are getting 50 per cent false positives, you are paying investigators to read case details and not provide value. And if these results are not being used to enhance your detection systems, you are going to be doing that every quarter.

3 Tips for Financial Abuse Investigations

3 Tips for Financial Abuse Investigations

As per our previous blog:

Financial abuse is a form of domestic and family violence which occurs when an abuser uses money and resources as a means to gain power, and to control their partner or family member.

While according to the Parliament of Australia, Financial Abuse of the elderly:

Involves family members in either: preserving an inheritance by not spending money on an older person’s welfare needs; or bringing forward an inheritance by using an older person’s assets for their own benefit

Although navigating a financial abuse case can often be difficult, following this guide will ensure an effective and legally sound investigation.

This paper is designed to help you understand:

  • Key Documents relevant to financial abuse investigations
  • Step-by-Step Investigation Process
  • Cases Involving the Elderly

Here are 3 things to consider when conducting a financial abuse case.

Key Documents for Financial Abuse Investigations

Documents are critical during any investigative process. This section will highlight:

  1. Key documents to collect
  2. Document management tips

Key documents which be particularly relevant for your Financial Abuse case can be divided into the following categories:

  • Medical Records
  • Bank and Financial Records
  • Legal Records
  • Other Records

Medical Records

  • Medication list
  • Doctor notes
  • Psychiatric evaluations
  • Notes about individuals accompanying elder to appointments and their relationship
  • Health insurance ID
  • Disabilities Documentations

Bank and Financial Records

 

1. Bank Records

  • Opening Documents (Signatures and other account owners)
  • Deposit Items (Checks from additional accounts/assets, and Deposit Items income from Investments)
  • Withdrawal Items (Signatures, cashier’s checks, and notes Withdrawal Items about purpose)
  • Cancelled checks (Signatures, payees, memo details,  endorsements, bank of deposit, account number)
  • Transfer Details  (Origin and destination accounts and account numbers)

2. Tax Statements

  • Property tax statements
  • Tax Returns

3. Financial Accounts

  • Bank/credit union statements
  • Credit/debit card statements
  • Retirement Accounts (401K, TSP, IRA)
  • Investment Accounts (stocks, bonds, mutual funds)

4. Sources of Income/Assets

  • Government benefits (social security, veterans, assistance for needy families)
  • Child support income
  • Alimony income

5. Financial Obligations

  • Mortgage statement
  • Lease
  • Utility bills (electricity, water, gas)
  • Alimony payments
  • Child support payments
  • Aged care facilities

Legal Records

Family Documents

  • Marriage License
  • Divorce Papers
  • Power(s) of Attorney (personal/property)
  • Will
  • Mortgage or Real Estate Deeds of Trust
  • Vehicle Registration/Ownership papers
  • ID (Passport/green card/driver’s license)

Other Records

When addressing situations of suspected financial abuse, it is important not to jump to conclusions. Regardless of the signs and whether an intervention was undertaken, it is important to document the situation. This will establish the case history and will assist in justifying timely interventions.

Document Management

Document management is critical to any investigation. Once you have gathered the above documents, it is important you manage them properly.

Consider the following tips:

1. Keep all original documents, photographs and records in one place

Because these documents contain such important and personal information, we strongly recommend that you keep all original documents, photographs and records in a safe and secure place.

2. Make a copy of both sides

We also encourage you to make a copy of these documents. Make sure to copy both sides, as important information is often printed on the backs of these documents.

3. Document dates obtained

We also suggest you document the date you collect and obtain necessary documents. This will help you track your investigation process.

Conducting Investigations

Here are important steps to consider during an investigation:

1. Establish a clear timeline including dates POA(s) were signed, suspect involvement, capacity determination, dates hospitalized, etc.

2. Summarize bank records by monthly cash flows: List inflows by source, and outflows by type or use. 

3. Reconcile total inflows and outflows to the beginning and ending statement balances.

4. Compare patterns and deviations observed in bank records to timeline.

5. Write a brief narrative, including facts of the case, findings noted, references to pieces of evidence, and conclude with a summary of related charges.

Financial Abuse Cases Involving the Elderly

Australian Institute of Family Studies reports that Financial Abuse is the most common form of elderly abuse. Read our insights in Financial Abuse: What is it? to understand how Financial Abuse unfolds in the context of elderly abuse.

Based on our insights, we compiled a list of key considerations to make when handling Elderly Financial Abuse:

1. Understand the Relevant laws

Laws, terminology and processes around the power of attorney differ across states and territories. It is important to understand the effects of a Power of Attorney made under the relevant law.

2. Provide Adequate Support

With diminished mental, physical capacities, elderly clients are more likely to require assistance and support.

Resources include:

  • Language Interpreters
  • Sign Language Support
  • Support person (who is not the person suspected of abuse)

These resources may help with understanding documents, as well as mediation and emotional support, given that victims often fear retaliation.

3. Consent of Client

Even if the client has some impaired capacity, it is important to include them in addressing the situation and to get their consent if and when practical. 

4. Offer legal options and law enforcement where necessary

Regardless of the assumption that older people do not wish to involve the police or the legal system, investigators are obliged to provide them with these options or provide a referral for accessing them.

Take a Client First Approach

It is important to plan for your client’s economic safety so that the risk of further economic abuse of your client is minimised.

Here are some suggestions to give clients: 

  • Change passwords, PINS and security questions for personal accounts on a safe computer
  • Change passwords, PINS and security questions for Centrelink, online shopping accounts, emails, mobile phones and social media accounts on a safe computer
  • Update your mailing address with any financial or other providers. Get a PO Box if your partner does not know your location
  • Request new bank cards for personal accounts if your partner knows your card details and cancel any secondary cards
  • Let mortgagors or lenders know about the separation
  • Gather important documents that show records of your financial position if it is safe to do so
  • For assistance with joint bank and credit card, utility bills and mortgage/ loans – talk to your family lawyer for some advice

 Further referrals:

Ways Forward

Financial, legal, and utility and telecommunications services are well positioned to detect financial abuse. Institutions should take appropriate measures if a client may be a subject of this abuse. 

Many institutions engaged in distributing public utilities such as electricity, gas, internet, as well as financial institutions have hardship/domestic violence support programs. Consider utilizing these resources to support your client.

The financial and legal system is difficult to navigate for a person with no expertise. It is critically important to understand the important documents and procedural protocols to ensure a fair and robust investigation, and ultimately protect your clients.

Obtaining the right documents and practicing proper document management  is critical for a financial abuse investigation. This includes: medical, legal and bank/financial and all other records.

Obtaining the right documents and practicing proper document management  is critical for any Financial Abuse Investigation. 

There are legal and ethical considerations to be made when handling financial abuse cases involving the elderly.

There are important legal and ethical considerations to make when handling cases of financial abuse of the elderly.

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Learn more about how Polonious can help you conduct Financial Abuse Investigations

12 Things to Include in an Investigation Report

12 Things to Include in an Investigation Report

Writing investigation reports is time consuming, and styles can vary widely between investigators. Having a template with fillable fields ensures a consistent style, as well as prompting investigators to ensure all the information is filled out. Having one on hand also means that you can fill it out over the course of the investigation, writing case notes and summaries into it as you go – saving time re-writing notes into your report at the end of the investigation. However the ultimate is, of course, a case management system such as Polonious, which can generate an investigation report for you at the click of a button.

 

Whichever way you are doing it, these are the fields that we find usually appear on an investigation report. We’ll use insurance fraud investigations as our main example, but these are applicable to other investigations too, such as banking fraud, complaints and workplace misconduct, education, and so on.

  1. Identifiers

    Case files should come with a unique case number for easy identification in whatever system you have – whether it’s physical files, spreadsheets, or a case management system, and these should be in a prominent position on the investigation report. This may be a claim or policy number, or a student or employee number. However this becomes complicated as you may have multiple investigations related to the same policy or person.

     

    We recommend assigning a unique identifier to each case, with other identifiers such as policy or claim number as secondary references in case you need to find information in another system.

  2. Investigator and Report Writer details

    Your investigator may be the person writing the investigation report, but this is not always the case. You should specify both for completeness and accuracy. For insurance cases, you may also wish to specify the claims handler.

     

  3. Referral source

    In an insurance case, this may be the claims handler, in which case you might not need an extra field. But it could also be another part of the business, or a tip line, or an analytics engine. For a misconduct or education case it may be a complainant or a witness.

     

  4. Key dates

    The three key dates you should include in the investigation report are the date referred, when you first received the case; the date entered or filed, which is when you first created the case file in your physical or electronic system – this may be different due to a delay in filing when you’re busy, and lastly; the date it was first allocated to an investigator. For a closed case, you may also wish to include the date closed.

     

  5. Case description/summary

    This should include the allegation or description of conduct or fraud being investigated. For example, in a misconduct investigation it will likely be an allegation from the complainant against the subject. However, for an insurance fraud case, it may be an event like a vehicle collision, and the reasons why it was flagged as possible fraud – e.g. over a certain value or within a certain window relative to policy inception or expiry. If the allegation was made by someone other than the victim, include whatever details you can about the victim.

     

  6. Special requests or instructions

    This is similar to, but separate from the above. In this section you outline what, specifically, you are looking into with regard to the allegation or event – where you started the investigation from and what you’re trying to prove. For example, ‘Check for consistency between body-shop quote and crash description in police report’ or ‘Determine whether X’s management decisions were applied consistently across the team or unfairly targeted the complainant’. This will give some context to the case history below.

     

  7. Subject details

    Enter any relevant details about the subject here. This will usually include name and contact details, as well as further information that may be relevant depending on the investigation type. For example, for an internal misconduct investigation you may include office location and staff number or job title. For auto fraud you may include licence number. For surveillance cases you should include a description of the subject – height, build, hair colour, etc. On certain case types, you may wish to include an ID photo.

     

  8. Case Notes/History

    List all of the actions taken on the case here, in chronological order. Include who was assigned and who completed the action, a brief description of the action, and the date, time, and location it was completed. For interviews and surveillance, include who was the subject of the interview or surveillance, as it may not always be the main subject of the investigation. Provide enough to outline a case history, but leave the detail for below.

     

  9. Photos/Surveillance Reports

    This section is more specific to auto or surveillance cases, but if you have photographs – e.g. of a crash scene or important photos from surveillance – you should include them here. They can also be included in the evidence log or brief of evidence below, but including key photos here makes the investigation report more compelling and easier to read than having to open another attachment. Additionally, you may wish to include the surveillance reports with the photos, as well as a summary of other surveillance.

     

  10. Interview reports

    Provide the detail here for any interviews you mentioned in #8 above. Provide the main details of each interview again, as well as:

    Any compliance requirements – length of interview, breaks taken, support people present (including translators). Anything required to show the interview was ‘by the book’. In Australia this now includes a number of requirements related to the General Insurance Code of Practice.
    Interviewer notes – summarise what was discussed during the interview, including the purpose of the interview (which should be relevant to point 5 above), the interviewer’s role, and any requirements about confidentiality or protection. The overview should include confirmation of the date, time, and location of any incidents discussed, and a description of the incident and description or identification of any other parties present – either involved or as witnesses. The notes should conclude with the interviewee’s review of the notes and agreement that they are a true and complete record of the interview, and this should be backed up with a signed statement or recording below.

     

  11. Evidence log/brief of evidence

    You should include a list of the evidence collected during the investigation. You should include the following details:

    Who collected the evidence, as well as their role in the investigation
    Date and time the evidence was collected
    Type of evidence – photo, video, forensic evidence, etc
    Where the evidence is stored (if applicable)

    Alternatively, you can attach a brief of evidence to the investigation report, listing all of the evidence details above and including any photographs, signed statements, surveillance and interview reports, and so on. If presented electronically, this can also include audio and video. For example, Polonious includes easy to create PDF briefs that include photos and documents, as well as secure links to video and audio files stored online.

     

  12. Recommendations

    Your last section should detail your findings from all of the above materials when considered alongside any relevant legal or policy frameworks such as insurance policy conditions, or employee codes of conduct. Should the claim be denied? Should disciplinary action be taken against the employee or student? Or does the evidence not support the questions the investigation was trying to answer? Support your recommendations by referring back to the details above – do not assume the reader will automatically make the same connections you did.

 

How can Polonious help?

 

If you have a case management system, you can log all of the above as you complete the investigation. Dates, subject details, case numbers, and so on all come across automatically.

Did you just write some notes in the case file? Well, when it comes time to create the report, we can pull those in to section #8 without you needing to summarise them again.

Logged some surveillance photos? We can show them directly in the investigation report and include their details – including metadata – in the evidence log. As mentioned above, they can also be included in a brief of evidence – even video and audio in electronic briefs – cutting hours or even days of preparation time down to an hour or two.

Additionally, as a process based system, all actions on the case which support your investigation report are maintained in the case history, with a full audit trail.

Investigation Reports - One click generation with Polonious

Polonious provides one-click investigation report generation.

Investigation Report - Include scene and surveillance photos easily

Polonious allows you to easily include scene or surveillance photos in your investigation report, alongside case notes and actions

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