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Fraud Investigator Career Guide

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

Fraud Investigator Career Description, Duties, and Common Tasks

Fraud investigators perform a variety of tasks for 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 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 such as prosecutors and attorney generals, present investigation results, and testify in court.

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.

Other Helpful Skills and Experience

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. 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

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

According to O*Net OnLine, a service of the US Department of Labor, fraud examiners, investigators, and analysts earn an annual median wage of $66,670.1 Job growth for these professionals is expected to be between 5 and 8% through 2024.1 Those working in the insurance industry as claims examiners and investigators earn a median annual wage of $63,060, and can expect job growth around 3% between now and 2024.2 Individual salaries can depend on factors like education, experience, geographic location, and industry (i.e. government, public, or private sector job).

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 fraud examiners. A forensic accountant, on the other hand, must typically 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.

Additional Resources

Criminal Justice and Fraud Examination Management Programs

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References:
1. O*Net OnLine – Fraud Examiners, Investigators, and Analysts: http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/13-2099.04
2. US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook – Claims Adjusters, Appraisers, Examiners, and Investigators: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/claims-adjusters-appraisers-examiners-and-investigators.htm