A certified fraud examiner conducts expert investigations regarding possible illegal activity in banks, corporations, and retail stores. He or she reviews documentation and interviews suspects to work out the details of a financial fraud claim. In addition, examiners initiate fraud deterrence and prevention programs to help companies avoid future problems. A certified fraud examiner might hold that specific title or work under another designation, such as forensic accountant or internal auditor.
Most certified fraud examiners work for private banks or corporations, though some are employed by private auditing companies, consulting firms, and government agencies. In addition, an experienced examiner may become self-employed, providing contract investigative services for many different clients. The responsibilities and goals of the examiner are largely the same in all work settings.
When company personnel know or suspect that fraud has been committed, the examiner begins a thorough investigation. He or she researches audit records, bank statements, e-mail correspondence, and other forms of documentation that might identify a suspect. If physical money or assets were stolen, the examiner can review surveillance tapes and interview people with knowledge of the event. After uncovering facts, he or she can put together a detailed report and contact the appropriate authorities. If a suspect is charged with fraud, the examiner may be asked to testify in court as an expert witness to describe the details of the investigation and present relevant materials.
Fraud examiners also research and develop training courses and employee guidelines to help prevent fraud. They may suggest the installation of new surveillance technology or computer monitoring and tracking software to help deter people from committing the crime. Many examiners lead seminars for loss prevention workers, accountants, and business executives to teach them about the importance of consistent auditing and recognizing warning flags.
The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) is a global organization that provides credentials to new examiners. An individual can earn certification by completing education requirements, applying for ACFE membership, taking training courses, and passing an exam. In order to qualify for membership, an individual usually needs to hold a bachelor's degree or higher in accounting, pre-law, business administration, or another major related to finance. In addition, two or more years of auditing or loss prevention experience is typically required. By fulfilling prerequisites and passing the exam, a new certified fraud examiner is eligible for employment in a wide variety of settings.