Fraud Investigator Career Guide

With the consistent growth of technology and electronic communication, the possibilities for fraudulent activity increase. As a result, the need for experienced, educated fraud investigators has grown.

Fraud Investigator Career Description, Duties, and Common Tasks

Fraud investigators play a part in the criminal justice system by performing a variety of tasks for both civil and criminal investigations. They investigate cases of insurance and credit card fraud, including interviewing and working with postal officials when the offenses have occurred through the mail. Investigators interview those individuals who are affected by fraudulent activity, including complainants, employers, and witnesses. They research records and transactions, particularly those that are electronic, may serve and execute search warrants, and may conduct surveillance to collect evidence of fraudulent activity. Finally, fraud investigators work with members of the criminal justice system, including prosecutors or attorney generals, present investigation results, and testify in court.

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How to Become a Fraud Investigator: Requirements and Qualifications

A minimum of a bachelor’s degree is generally necessary to become a fraud investigator. Individuals who earn a degree in economic crime, fraud management, accounting, criminal justice, law, or business administration are the most highly qualified. Some states require licensure of fraud examiners while continuing education is mandatory in other states.

Fraud Investigator Job Training

Organizations generally require fraud examiners to have previous work experience in a related field. Individuals can become certified fraud examiners through the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) by successfully passing an online exam. On-the-job training is also common for fraud examiners, and the ACFE offers online training courses.

Other Helpful Skills and Experience

Those applicants who have experience with criminal investigations, background investigations, suspect business practices, or insurance casualty claims are most likely to be the first hired as a fraud investigator. Skills a potential fraud investigator must possess include the ability to conduct interviews, to take statements, to write reports, and to collect and to preserve evidence. In addition, fraud investigators must be ethical and excellent communicators. Those prospective fraud examiners with former law enforcement experience may have an edge during the hiring process.

Examples of Possible Job Titles for this Career

  • Fraud analyst
  • Fraud examiner
  • Fraud investigation officer
  • Fraud investigator

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Career Opportunities and Employers

Investigators may work for the federal government, police departments, insurance agencies, banks, and healthcare organizations. Some fraud examiners also go into private practice, building and working for their own client base.

Fraud Investigator Salary and Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that private detectives and investigators earn a median salary of $45,740 per year,1 while detectives and criminal investigators (which excludes private detectives and investigators) earn an average annual salary of $79,030.2 Individual salaries can depend on factors like education, experience, geographic location, and specific employment situation (e.g. government job or private sector job). The BLS projects employment growth of 11% for private detectives and investigators from 2012-2022, which is about as fast as the average occupation.1

Frequently Asked Questions About This Career

What is the difference between a fraud examiner and a forensic accountant?
A fraud examiner deals only with anti-fraud measures and cases of fraud. Both CPAs (Certified Public Accountants) and non-CPAs can work as a fraud examiner. A forensic accountant, on the other hand, must be a CPA.

What does the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners certification exam consist of?
The exam, which takes an estimated 10 hours, covers such areas as criminology and ethics, financial transactions, fraud examination and investigation, and the legal elements of fraud.

Is fraud investigation an entry level position?
No. Fraud examiners generally must have several years of work experience, in a related field such as accounting or law enforcement, and will need additional on-the-job training once securing a position in fraud investigation.

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Additional Resources

Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) – “The World’s Largest Anti-Fraud Organization”

Fraud Magazine Online – An ACFE publication

International Association of Financial Crimes Investigators – An international fraud resource

National Association of Fraud Investigators – A resource for fraud investigators

Criminal Justice and Fraud Examination Management Programs

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References:
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/protective-service/private-detectives-and-investigators.htm
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes333021.htm
3. Association of Certified Fraud Examiners: http://www.acfe.com/

Page Edited by Charles Sipe.