A Rough Reality: Fraud Victims and the Road to Renewal

Shock, anger, depression and bargaining are all victims' reactions to fraud. When someone falls victim to fraud, there are issues that hinder healing — lack of sleep, overworking to earn money back, compulsive behavior and avoiding emotions. “Much is made of the fraudster,” said Andy Wilson, CFE, CCEP, VP Fraud & Compliance, Sedgwick, Inc. “But [the victims] are the real faces of fraud.” In the session, “Fraud Victims Speak Out,” Wilson hosted victims of fraud who spoke about their experiences and how they overcame them.

In 2003, Jay Myers, President of Interactive Solutions, Inc., read an article about fraud that stuck with him. At work the next day, he checked his payroll records and discovered a fraud that was being carried out by his director of finance. “I was raised with honesty, integrity and ethics,” said Myers. “When I discovered the theft, it went against how I was raised and I became enraged.” In 2013, Brett Ray, Chief Operating Officer at Integrity Furniture Group, was brought in to assist a small business who was in the midst of investigating an internal fraud scheme. “They were robbing Peter to pay Paul; it was phenomenal,” said Ray. “What started out as an inkling of liberty being taken snowballed into everything they [did] being a lie.”

Fraud victims often say that going through the experience is one of the worst things they have gone through. After losing trust in coworkers, dealing with an unethical culture and losing financial security, victims need to fight to sustain their innocence. Wilson provided 12 steps that victims can follow in order to regain their emotional footing. A few of these include:

  • Do not allow yourself to be casually judged. Remember that frauds cost $3.7 trillion annually. Frauds are convincing, hidden and criminal. If you have been defrauded, no one is in a position to judge you.
  • Do not live in the past. Learn from the past, but do not dwell on it. Move on with your life and move forward.
  • Give yourself time to grieve. Your trust has been violated. When you are defrauded you lose more than your money. You lose your pride, self-confidence and self-esteem.

When it’s time to move on, “You realize that anger can’t be a great strategy,” said Myers. You have had your trust violated, and it’s hard to deal with that. You must have the determination to do the right thing and hold the fraudster accountable in order to prevent fraud from happening in the future to someone else. “One day,” says Wilson, “you will wake up and you will say, ‘let’s move forward.’”