Blog of the week –

Workplace Investigations Blog

Debra’s focus on public sector investigations really caught my attention but her blog tackles a number of topics including fraud, sexual discrimination, and FMLA that pertain to both the public and private sector. Many attorneys claim that they can conduct investigations dealing with a broad range of issues. Most of the time, they end up being specialists in a couple of areas, and generalists in all others. Debra’s blog provides the reader with considerable evidence that she is well equipped to tackle a plethora of issues. The posts are easy to read, light on legalese and heavy on clear and consistent guidance regarding best practices.

I encourage readers to check out the blog archive where there are blog posts dating back to July 2009. Navigating the blog is exceptionally simple with all of the links on the left hand side as opposed to the right side that most bloggers tend to use.  Lastly, the site uses a very soothing blue color scheme that is much appreciated when you read as many blogs as I do!

Congratulations Debra! Keep up the great work.

Need a writer that understands fraud? When you hire me to write an article, blog post, newsletter or white paper you get an accomplished writer that is also an expert in fraud.



Organized crime has an “Easy Button” – White Collar Crime

“The Federal Bureau of Investigation on Friday estimated there are some 1.4 million gang members in the United States and they are turning to white-collar crimes as more lucrative enterprises.”, FBI: Gangs turning to white-collar crimes

Drug trafficking and prostitution certainly pay the bills, but gang members see the potential to make big money with white-collar crime so says the FBI in its 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment. I’ve written about organized crime before as it relates to the banking sector. In fact, very early on in my fraud career, I lead an investigation of identify theft involving an Asian gang based on the West Coast. To be honest, I was very impressed with the overall scheme. The gang routinely overcame the countermeasures that we deployed and over the course of 6 months, made many, many millions. As far as I know, they remain at large.

From my experience, the biggest threat posed by organized crime as it relates to white-collar crime is their efficiency. Either by threats of violence, a sense of loyalty, or sheer determination, organized crime is often far more efficient than the fraud departments they face. Unless the organized crime entity is targeted by law enforcement, fraud departments rarely see their “enemy”. In jungle warfare, fighting a faceless enemy that can strike with impunity exerts a tremendous psychological toll on soldiers. Clearly, we are not talking about life and death, but fraud investigators can become quite demoralized when tasked with defeating an attack by organized crime. In reality, you never really defeat organized crime, you temporarily slow down the frequency and severity of their attacks.

Whether you work for a company with less than 10 employees, or a multinational with 10,000 employees, there is much to learn from organized crime and their approach to fraud. Sure, the gangs have their fair share of politics and distractions in the form of law enforcement investigations, but when it comes to making money, organized crime makes every effort – violent or otherwise – to protect their cash flow.

Using violence to prevent fraud is not an option for businesses. However, can your company say that it has an organized response in place to prevent fraud? As we know, fraud has many forms. Your company doesn’t have to be fighting organized crime to apply lessons learned from their approach. Ask yourself if fraud prevention and investigation is a high priority in your organization? Does the company dedicate the resources needed to combat fraud – both employee and third-party? (Hint: what appears to be employee  related fraud, may actually be a “plant” by organized crime). If the fraud department recommends a change in policy or procedure, or an investment in technology to combat fraud, who listens?

The fact that the FBI believes that organized crime is focusing their efforts on white-collar crime may actually be a blessing in disguise. In order to improve their performance, a sports team often has to play against a superior opponent. In case you hadn’t already guessed, organized crime is the superior opponent. Will your company learn from the experience, or be subject to an embarrassing defeat that serves no purpose… well, almost no purpose. The gang will enjoy spending your company’s cash. And, they’ll probably be back for more…

Need a writer that understands fraud? When you hire me to write an article, blog post, newsletter or white paper you get an accomplished writer that is also an expert in fraud.

Blog of the week for Oct 17 –

Mortgage Fraud Blog

Mortgage Fraud Blog is the premier website for news and information on mortgage fraud and real estate fraud throughout the United States.”

I couldn’t agree more. The Mortgage Fraud Blog provides the reader with a comprehensive view of mortgage fraud. The site is well organized and very easy to navigate. I especially like the fraud glossary. Mortgage fraud, like many types of fraud, has its own language. Many blogs assume that the reader knows the jargon, so it’s nice to see a blogger who recognizes that not everyone is familiar with the terminology. Also check out the ticker that summarizes the results of 1,851 cases that the site tracks. Care to guess the average prison term for perpetrators of mortgage fraud? The number is probably lower than you think…

Finally, I really like the quick links dropdown box that can help the reader move quickly to topics of interest. If you have even a passing interest in mortgage fraud, this site provides more than enough information to keep you up to date on the latest developments. Keep up the good work!

Need a writer that understands fraud? When you hire me to write an article, blog post, newsletter, or white paper, you get an accomplished writer that is also an expert in fraud.

And so it begins: Fraud Happens launches blog of the week!

I am very pleased to announce the blogs of the week for the week beginning October 10. Given the number of blogs that were submitted, I decided to showcase three blogs instead of just one.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading each of the blogs mentioned below. I found the posts to be engaging, very well researched, and sometimes even humorous! I strongly recommend that you take the time to visit each one! In no particular order, we have…

Ponzitracker Blog

Ponzitracker offers a fresh take on an old problem. This blog is well written and informative, and it does something that is difficult to do – shed new light on an old and often ignored type of fraud.

Jordan Maglich is the blogger behind Ponzitracker. He does a great job summarizing why you should visit his blog:

“This blog is intended to provide a unique insight into this age-old practice, while at the same time assembling a mechanism to track their occurrence and gain an understanding of the true toll, both economic and societal.”

His recent post on a potential $1 billion dollar fraud in China is fascinating. Could this be the beginning of an increase in all types of fraud taking place in China? As more ponzi schemes are discovered in China, I am sure Jordan will discuss them on his blog.

Internal Investigations Blog

Internal Investigations Blog covers a broad range of frauds in a level of detail that few blogs can provide. In addition to the clever titles that draw the reader in, James McGrath, managing partner of McGrath & Grace, provides a view of the inner workings of an investigation. Each post is very well researched and cited. I also like that James includes references to other bloggers.

As a former prosecutor, I can see James’ experience from both sides of the table infused in several posts. On that basis alone, it makes sense to read the blog. Certainly there are many former prosecutors in private practice today, but few that are able to articulate their thoughts with such clarity.

There is so much great content on this blog that it would be helpful to provide a list of posts by month or implement subject word hyperlinks. I would also consider adding an RSS feed and an email signup. Other than that, I will personally add this blog to my reading list. It is well worth the visit!

FCPA Compliance and Ethics Blog

The FCPA Compliance and Ethics Blog provides a very detailed discussion of FCPA compliance and risk. I like that Thomas Fox – the site’s owner – shares specific steps that companies may want to consider regarding FCPA compliance, etc. (Thomas’ disclaimer reminds readers to seek appropriate legal counsel before taking action).

Thomas regularly includes mention of other experts in FCPA compliance and provides guest post opportunities as well. That can only help strengthen his brand and validate the accuracy of the information that he provides readers. As a provider of professional services, I personally struggle with how much knowledge and expertise I should share. Thomas seems to have found the balance that works for him. Maybe his approach is something we can all learn from?

Thanks to everyone that took the time to share their blog. Please note that I received a number of blogs written in languages other than English. To be honest, I am not sure how best to review foreign language blogs. I may start a foreign language blog in the near future.

Bloggers – keep up the good work! If I didn’t mention your blog this time around, I reserve the right to visit your blog again in the future!

Need a writer that understands fraud? When you hire me to write an article, blog post, newsletter, or white paper, you get an accomplished writer that is also an expert in fraud.

Wow! Now THAT’s impressive!

What a fantastic response! I have been overwhelmed with a long list of blogs to review! I love what I have read so far. I’ve also personally learned a great deal of helpful information to boot! To make sure that I fully review each submission, I’ll announce the Fraud Happens blog of the week tomorrow (Tuesday).

Clearly, there are a number of talented fraud, security, and compliance bloggers out there! Keep ’em coming!

Need a writer that understands fraud? When you hire me to write an article, blog post, newsletter, or white paper, you get an accomplished writer that is also an expert in fraud.

Calling all bloggers – I want to hear from you

Since I started my blog, I have received tremendous support from fraud practitioners around the world. Whether they post comments here on the blog or on LinkedIn discussion threads, I am truly appreciative of the time and effort these individuals have taken to provide feedback and share their experiences. I have learned a great deal from their comments and hope that I have provided valuable information in return.

Now it’s my turn to help.

Beginning October 10, I am launching a new feature on this blog to help publicize other fraud-related blogs. In fact, I plan to profile more than just fraud blogs. I would like to include risk, compliance, legal, and security-related blogs as well. There are so many talented bloggers out there to choose from in each of these areas!

So here goes: beginning October 10, each week, I will profile a blog that I think my visitors would enjoy reading. Specifically, I’ll share what makes the blog unique or special and explain why it is worth visiting and subscribing to. If you have a blog that you would like me to visit, please email me at

I look forward to sharing great blogs and helping other bloggers get their “day in the sun.”

Need a writer that understands fraud? When you hire me to write an article, blog post, newsletter, or white paper, you get an accomplished writer that is also an expert in fraud.

“There’s Gold in Them Thar Hills”

A Hooter

The lawsuit involving Hooters and Twin Peaks has already triggered a wave of clever, and not so clever, headlines, but it is really no laughing matter. (With this post, I suppose that I just added a headline to the list. You be the judge as to which category it falls into.)

The dispute involves Joe Hummel, the former  EVP of operations at Hooters. Hooters alleges that as he was leaving the company, Hummel stole over 500 pages of sensitive business information and trade secrets.

He is now employed with La Cima restaurants. Unfortunately for Hooters, La Cima is in the process of launching the Twin Peaks restaurant chain (any guesses what the new chain will “feature”?). Before joining La Cima, Hummel allegedly downloaded Hooter’s marketing plans, contract agreements, recruiting tools, and sales figures – some or all of which are likely trade secrets – and then emailed them to himself using his personal email account. If this is true, how could it have been prevented? I regularly help companies prevent IP theft, and I can tell you that there is no easy fix. Instead, it requires a multi-pronged approach using the right mix of people, processes, and technology.

What is a trade secret anyway? The short answer is whatever you say it is! The more detailed answer is that a trade secret must be secret (not widely known), be of value because it is not widely known, and treated as a secret at all times. In this case, it is not entirely clear if all of the information that Hummel allegedly took would meet the definition, but at face value, certain elements would appear to fit the bill. I would strongly suspect that Hooter’s marketing plans were not widely available within the company or the industry as a whole. Would the marketing plan be of value because it is not widely available? Ultimately, that is for the courts to decide.

Asking the courts to pursue employees that steal trade secrets is certainly within your company’s rights, but I would liken it to putting toothpaste back in the tube once squeezed. It is time consuming and potentially very messy, and the end result may not justify the effort.

Does your company have any trade secrets? (Hint: the vast majority do.) What have you done to protect them? Could an outgoing executive steal your company’s trade secrets? Would you even know?

If the answer to any of the questions above causes concern or leaves you wondering about how well protected your trade secrets may be, we can help. Just don’t wait until a theft occurs. By that time, the toothpaste is out of the tube…

Hooters is not alone in dealing with this type of situation. Given the glamorous nature of their business, they are unlucky enough to attract media attention when things go wrong. That said, could your company be next?

Need a writer that understands fraud? When you hire me to write an article, blog post, newsletter, or white paper, you get an accomplished writer that is also an expert in fraud.