Taking the Plunge Into the Anti-Fraud Profession

How do you make a career fighting fraud? This question was the focus of a panel discussion among key anti-fraud experts on Tuesday at the 25th Annual ACFE Global Fraud Conference. Introduced and moderated by ACFE Regent Bruce Dubinsky, CFE, CPA, CVA, CFF, managing director at Duff and Phelps, LLC, the panel covered a lot of ground and answered questions from the audience about making inroads into the profession.

Joining Dubinsky for the discussion were Francine Buie, CFE, Forensic Auditor & Examiner for the U.S. Postal Service OIG, Office of Investigation; Tiffany Couch, CFE, CPA, CFF, Principal, Acuity Forensics; Kathy Lavinder, Executive Director, Security & Investigative Placement Consultants; and Alton Sizemore, CFE, CPA, President, Alton Sizemore & Associates.

Dubinsky opened the conversation with a question that is universal to most job-seekers, not just fraud examiners: “How can I separate myself from the crowd?” The panelists all agreed that having some elements of uniqueness in one’s résumé is important in seeking to stand out among possibly hundreds of other candidates.

“Look for differentiators,” said Lavinder. “Emphasize some unique experiences.” She told the story of a job seeker who spent years on a fishing boat off the coast of Alaska, à la “Deadliest Catch.” While not directly relevant to the job he was seeking, it was interesting, and also suggested he had the ability to work well with a team and in difficult or stressful situations.

The team aspect is especially important to employers. “I’m looking for team players,” Dubinsky said. “I want people who will fit into the culture, and have shown they are willing to do the things that need to be done for the business.”

Buie suggested that when entering the fraud field, a professional should be intuitive and eager to learn. She suggested that “while in your current job, explore fraud from that perspective.”

Sizemore encouraged professionals to make sure to communicate their intensity and dedication to their work. “I really think you have to have a passion for (fraud fighting) to be successful, and that has to come across."

Some other key tips from the panel included the following:

  • On a résumé, stress accomplishments, not responsibilities.
  • Earn a certification, but steer clear of “pay to play” credentials not backed by an exam. They are essentially worthless, and employers know the difference.
  • Engage in volunteer and community work to build experience and make new connections.
  • With connections made, don’t hesitate to call upon them when seeking a new opportunity – most hirings come not through a portal, but from a referral.

Sizemore had a key piece of advice for people to take when leaving a job: “Be careful not to burn bridges when you leave a company.” It can come back to haunt you – just as positive connections can help when least expected, a negative one might torpedo your next job opportunity. 

Sizemore added one other crucial reminder for anyone seeking a new opportunity (but especially those in the fraud field): “Keep your background clean.” 

Find more conference coverage at FraudConference.com.