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What Does a Certified Fraud Examiner Do?

D. Jeffress
D. Jeffress

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.

One duty of a fraud examiner is to testify in court, when necessary.
One duty of a fraud examiner is to testify in court, when necessary.

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.

Discussion Comments


@Latte31 - That was a horrible case that I hope never repeats itself. I wanted to add that my friend’s husband is a fraud examiner and usually if you get your certification you can earn about 20% more in salary.

He usually investigates businesses. He told me that he looks at the financial statements of a business along with the tax returns, records of employees, vendors and other companies that have relationships with the company.

He says that they can even get access to the personal and business cell phones as well as the hard drives from all of the computers for personal and business use.

He also looks at bank statements. He told me that often the person committing this type of crime is a trusted person in the inner circle. Sometimes it might even be a family member, if this is a family business.

I couldn’t believe all of the stuff he was telling me. It sounded like such an exciting career.


@Subway11- Wow that is really interesting. What I don’t understand is why the SEC did not take Harry Markopolos seriously when he, as a fraud examiner started tipping off the SEC about Bernie Madoff since 1999.

I read that he saw a lot of irregularities and realized that the profits that he reported to his investors were always about the same. It was usually one to two percent every month. Investments usually range in gains and are not that consistent over time.

I could only imagine what would have happened if the SEC would have done an investigation the first time they were alerted. How many people would have been spared this horrible financial disaster?

Good thing that there are people like Markopolos in this field that did not give up and fought for all of those duped investors.


I know that sometimes a fraud investigator is used in conjunction with divorce cases. I read that in these situations these fraud examiners look for hidden assets which will lower the value of someone’s estate.

They usually look at business documents as well as bank statements to try to figure out where the money is coming in and where it is going. Looking at deposits and checks along with possible wire transfers and credit card statements give the investigator a good idea of what is going on. I read that they also look at wills, trusts, tax return information as well as investment accounts and loan applications. They really leave no stone unturned.

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    • One duty of a fraud examiner is to testify in court, when necessary.
      By: Stephen Coburn
      One duty of a fraud examiner is to testify in court, when necessary.