Ever feel like a “deer in the headlights” when you get thrown into a #fraud investigation? If you are like most people, at that point you start wishing you had guidance from a mentor or retired colleague. If your colleague was here now, what gems of experience and tricks of the trade would your colleague give you?
In this #jammingwithjason #internalauditpodcast you get that. The experience and advice of someone, who while not retired, has seen his share of fraud investigations in his career. So much so that he wrote a book on it to share the wisdom with others.
Craig Bristow is the author of “Practical Insights for Fraud Professionals: Lifting the veil on the dark art” and a Chief Audit Executive.
“Practical Insights for Fraud Professionals” reads like on-the-job training and provides sound practical guidelines on how to conduct all elements associated with fraud investigation. Both new and seasoned fraud investigators will find value in these applied techniques from Craig’s book and from his discussion on this podcast.
You can get a copy of Craig’s book at: https://www.amazon.com/Practical-Insights-Fraud-Professionals-Lifting/dp/1485120306/
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Jason Mefford: Hey everybody, I am excited to have Craig Bristow with me today and Craig is actually the author of get this. It’s a great title.
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Jason Mefford: Practical insights for fraud professionals lifting the veil on the dark arts
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Jason Mefford: So today we’re going to talk about fraud and some other stuff and probably share some war stories. So, so, Craig. Welcome. Why don’t you take just a minute and kind of introduce yourself to everybody. So they kind of get a background for
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Jason Mefford: For who you are and why you’ve got so many war stories over talk about today.
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Craig Bristow: Fantastic. Well, thank you, first of all for having me. Jason’s great pleasure to be here.
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Craig Bristow: So I initially started off from an internal auditing background and then as the need grew. I went into it auditing deviled in that for a while. I like to
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Craig Bristow: Say that I’m a recovering it auditor and then again as the need grew when frauds popped up, you know, internal audit was just a logical choice to go investigate those
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Craig Bristow: And so I started getting into fraud and I’ve been in numerous industries. I’ve been in life insurance medical insurance retail pharmaceutical distribution construction and now I’m in the shipping industry so
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Craig Bristow: You know it’s been a while. Travel
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Jason Mefford: Well, it is. And it’s kind of interesting because, as you said, you know, you started off an internal audit you go to it out at you do some fraud stuff. It’s like those of it you know that have been around long enough. I’ve got more gray hair than you do.
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Jason Mefford: I’ve got less hair.
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Jason Mefford: But, you know, we tend to
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Jason Mefford: Pick up different things throughout our career right based on the need of what comes up. And so, yeah, a lot of times if there’s no separate fraud or security group within an organization internal audit is usually the one that ends up doing the investigations.
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Jason Mefford: And even though you know it might not be the biggest risk in your organization if frauds happen. My experience has been, they usually blame audit for letting it happen. Right, even though it’s not our, our fault.
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Jason Mefford: So we need to we need to be aware of and kind of know about fraud and if you’re in the situation where you’re actually the one investigating it to actually know how to do it as well. Right, which I
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Jason Mefford: Which I think is one of the reasons why.
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Jason Mefford: Why you wrote the book and kind of why you share some of this stuff that you do so. So maybe let’s just kind of jump in and, you know, what are some things that people need to know and and kind of do to be able to have some of these practical insights when it comes to fraud.
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Craig Bristow: Yes. Well, certainly my own landing into fraud was was a bit of a baptism by fire, and it was exactly, you know, as you mentioned,
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Craig Bristow: A fraud is has has occurred and management is looking for quick and decisive retribution and, you know, then they come down to internal audit and, you know, please go and sort this out and in my own case I had had not had much fraud experience I had
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Craig Bristow: assisted in getting evidence for two previous fraud cases. And you know, I was like a deer in headlights. I didn’t know what to do. And initially made use of consultants and started picking things up and
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Craig Bristow: I remember sitting across the table. In fact, after had written certain
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Craig Bristow: Certifications I was sitting across the table from somebody that I needed to interview and I just remember thinking to myself, I have no clue how to start
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Craig Bristow: And it’s really that when I as I used the professional firms and I sat and watched them and it was really on the job that I had my best learning
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Craig Bristow: And and and that is part of probably the main motivating reason of why I wrote the book.
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Craig Bristow: And and and the book also is I like to say it’s, there’s no theory in the book and it’s written in a very conversational style, it’s very
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Craig Bristow: Easy to read and it’s written in the same way as I would do on the job training and the the the metaphor that I like to use. In fact, I use it in the introduction of the book as well is
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Craig Bristow: If you were a young graduate and you fresh out of university and you are at the retirement party of someone with 3040 years experience and at that party you they took you one side they put their arm around you and they said, Hey, Jason.
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Craig Bristow: You know, I just like to give you a few tips. Yes, some do’s and don’ts. Here’s some templates that are built up over time. What would those gems of wisdom practical wisdom be that’s really going to help you.
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Craig Bristow: You know, to get going and and and that was the idea of the book that that’s that’s what I want to do.
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Jason Mefford: Well, I think that’s great because so much of the time in our, in our profession and even kind of you know in the in the tangent ones around like risk management and compliance. Yeah.
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Jason Mefford: So much of the time people want to talk theoretical
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Jason Mefford: And, you know, the theory is great, but how do I still do my job.
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Jason Mefford: Right and and a lot of times it’s very pie in the sky.
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Jason Mefford: Theory, that’s hard to put into practice because like you said, you know, you sit down in front of the other person that you’re supposed to interview if
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Jason Mefford: You’re feeling like a deer in the headlights like oh crap, I’m supposed to be the expert, but how
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Jason Mefford: Do I actually do this right
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Craig Bristow: Yes, and trying to keep a straight face that that I notice that you’re
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Jason Mefford: I bet you
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Craig Bristow: It makes me. It makes me think of another example. When I was using a professional firm and
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Craig Bristow: And and i was just sort of taking minutes on the side and sitting to one side of the main interview happening and
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Craig Bristow: I was sort of chomping at the bit and saying, Well, why don’t you ask the obvious question and
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Craig Bristow: You know, and the interview eventually unraveled and they managed to corner. This person and then they they got an admission.
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Craig Bristow: And at the end of the interview once everybody left the room and I said to this guy who was really my main mentor that I had
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Craig Bristow: I said to him, but, you know, why didn’t you just asked the question, and he said, But great I couldn’t ask the question, because if I’d asked a question. He said, No.
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Craig Bristow: I didn’t do it. And then I was stuck. So what he did was he slowly dream and he put certain blocks in place and then dreaming and got him to a point way.
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Craig Bristow: And it’s that kind of. And I remember being so impressed with it and I’ve used that technique so many times. So it’s, it’s, those are the things that we need to share to help each other out. And that was really also
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Craig Bristow: A very strong secondary motivator for writing the book is that I find that
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Craig Bristow: That we like to talk about the cases, the big successful cases that we had, but we don’t really share those techniques. Some of it may be our own insecurities.
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Craig Bristow: And you know, we need to be less territorial, we need to help each other out and so that we can combat this, the scourge of fraud, which seems to be rife in the world.
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Jason Mefford: Well, and that’s, you know, maybe one of the, one of the things that we can go down as a little bit is you know as auditors we’re taught how to interview people right because we interview, lots of people to understand processes to gather evidence, things like that. Right.
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Jason Mefford: But there is there is a big difference between
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Jason Mefford: How we normally would interview someone to understand a process versus if it’s a fraud interview or an interview, as part of a fraud investigation.
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Jason Mefford: But even still, more so if it’s if it’s kind of termed an interrogation, right, which is, which again is is a different kind of thing. So maybe, maybe if you can help everybody understand
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Jason Mefford: A little bit of what are some of the differences, then between you know what what maybe you’ve been taught to do from an interview perspective versus
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Jason Mefford: If you’re doing it in the fraud space or if you’re going kind of the interrogation route which it sounds like that one that you were listening to is more of an interrogation because they were trying to get admission of guilt.
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Jason Mefford: As part of it. They weren’t just collecting information and those you run a
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Jason Mefford: Completely different. Right.
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Craig Bristow: Yeah, yeah. I think the biggest problem is that most of our frames of reference that we have with regards to interview is what we’ve seen in Hollywood.
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Craig Bristow: And quite frankly, the Hollywood miss it is exactly the opposite of what you’re supposed
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Craig Bristow: To be doing, you know, there’s typically some rather muscular guy that’s bursting out of his t shirt and he’s being highly threatening to do the subject of the interview and and in fact
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Craig Bristow: It’s quite the opposite, you need to build rapport with the person you need to separate them from the wrongdoing, because nobody even guilty people don’t like to be associated with wrongdoing. So somehow, even
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Craig Bristow: If, if, and I’ve had to deal with some, some people, which are really not the nicest people and where there’s been other quite sorted things which have gone with it and you have to
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Craig Bristow: You know, sort of put that on one side and say, I’m here to do a job. I’m here to try and get an admission or to get to the facts.
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Craig Bristow: And you know you need to build that rapport with them and say to them, look, I understand it must have been difficult for you and you know you
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Craig Bristow: You in difficult circumstances management’s putting undue pressure on you can completely relate to this, you know, somehow distance them from the wrongdoing and then get them to to open up to you.
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Craig Bristow: So it’s it’s those sort of things which which really help us.
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Craig Bristow: Well,
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Jason Mefford: Yeah.
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Craig Bristow: Yes, sorry. You made reference to to interrogation and i i also like to talk about three levels of of interviewing and the first level is just typically
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Craig Bristow: You know, the normal conversation because it’s it’s information seeking, you know, then the second level is a little bit more up tempo.
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Craig Bristow: And, you know, the questions are coming a little bit quicker and you know you you you contradicting the testing the person and contradicting what they’ve said to what I said before. And then the third level is a little bit close to the Hollywood.
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Craig Bristow: You still have, I want to emphasize, you never raising your voice. You never been disrespectful to the person and maybe the tempo is quicker.
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Craig Bristow: But the respect is always there for the person and and and you still being professional in your in your mannerisms so never
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Craig Bristow: Never. Are you doing the, the, the real Hollywood style interrogations. And in fact, in my career, I can only think of two circumstances we have done.
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Craig Bristow: A level three interview. It was done with management’s consent. I said to them, look, this could go horribly patient
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Craig Bristow: We need to have a plan B if they stole matter here, etc. We need to have a contingency. What are we going to do. Are you find if I do this. Yes. And luckily in both circumstances, it went like clockwork, but it could have also gone wrong.
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Craig Bristow: Yeah, but it’s very, I would say it’s very rare.
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Craig Bristow: That you do that. And in fact, the more skillful interview would not need to go there, but sometimes you need to, you know, sort of destabilized them.
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Jason Mefford: Yeah, because there is there is some of that destabilization. That has to be in there and and that’s why you know like you said when you were watching that other man do the interview, you’re like, why are you
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Jason Mefford: Not asking the question, because he was
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Jason Mefford: Trying to go in such a way so that he could destabilize the person kind of relaxes reduces you know releases and then all of a sudden things come out right because that’s, that’s usually again, typically what it what will end up happening is if you’ve
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Jason Mefford: If you’ve done it right, a lot of times, people just open up and confessed everything and tell you exactly what it is. And it’s interesting you know because you bring up the Hollywood thing because I’m here in LA.
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Jason Mefford: Area right but you know movies and TV are great.
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Jason Mefford: for entertainment purposes, but like you said, what, what you see in movies and TV shows is not in fact what you actually do you know from the people that I know that work for, you know, places like the FBI other other
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Jason Mefford: Law enforcement. You know, you sit and listen to some of them. And it’s exactly what you’re talking about, you know, if you’re negotiating with with a terrorist. Let’s say you know one of the guys that I know is a is a is a negotiator.
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Jason Mefford: For the FBI again, never disrespectful. Never in your face. It’s always about rapport building about
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Jason Mefford: You know, in fact, he actually instead of getting people to agree with you, or say yes with you. He gets people to say no and allow them to say no to him on purpose to kind of develop and do some of the things like that so
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Jason Mefford: And like you said, you know, if you if you get to that that Hollywood style things can go terribly wrong. Yeah, we’re not. We’re not done properly.
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Jason Mefford: So I guess you know when you kind of got thrown in this. I know you. I know you wrote the book kind of to be able to help
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Jason Mefford: Give people like a little mentor in the background. Right. Yeah, you know. But how did, how did you kind of learn and what are some of the big
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Jason Mefford: You know takeaways. I mean, people need to go out and get the book because they can’t they can’t get everything
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Jason Mefford: In a few minutes of us talking, but what are, what are kind of some big, big things to to, you know, kind of help people with along along their journey in this if they get thrown into this, just like you did.
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Craig Bristow: I think, well, the, the, the book is written, really, it can be read into end or it can be used as a reference manual
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Craig Bristow: And it’s like I said it’s I tried to be very practical in it. So, for example, even the examples are, you know,
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Craig Bristow: If you’ve got a procurement based fraud, you can go to the examples procurement based fraud and you can get a description of what it entails and and steps of of likely investigation techniques etc that you can use.
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Craig Bristow: So there’s a lot of real plane nuts and bolts in the book real practical steps. This is how you structure investigation. Here are some templates for interviewing
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Craig Bristow: You know, you can use yes some inspiration. You don’t have to use it verbatim, but just inspiration. A lot of real practical things which you don’t necessarily get when you studying the, the theory.
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Craig Bristow: But there’s also another element, which I’m trying to introduce as well is that I’m trying to get more to the strategic and the structural side of of fraud.
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Craig Bristow: And part of that is in the the planning and and strategic fraud risk management and, you know, part of that is just
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Craig Bristow: I think sometimes as as for investigators we’re our own worst enemy.
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Craig Bristow: But if you look at the at the, the media all the big frauds are perpetrated by the financial director, you know, we can we can name all the high profile fraud cases, it’s not the
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Craig Bristow: 10 gallons of fuel which was stolen from the state or the pole fridge, which is happening in this retail chain. It’s the big things. So we often, I would say.
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Craig Bristow: More than often we spend 80% of our time with 20% of the problem. And a lot of that lies with like I said with a structure. So if you’re not doing proper strategic fraud risk assessment at the time.
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Craig Bristow: To start off, you’re going to be going off in the wrong direction. If you are sitting at a process level and saying, well, you know, cash as an inherent high risk. So, therefore, that must have the highest fraud risk.
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Craig Bristow: If we if you if you starting at that level, you’re already dead in the water. But if you’re saying to yourself, right, what industry. Am I in
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Craig Bristow: What are the revenue drivers in this organization.
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Craig Bristow: What are the current strategic and structural things that are happening. Okay, there’s an acquisition happening here. Or there’s a sale of a business here or
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Craig Bristow: You know, how is our senior leadership incentivized how they driven. What is the, what are the pressures that they are under what is the current state of the economy.
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Craig Bristow: You know what is what is in the circumstances that we’re living in now. What is going to be the expectation of the shareholders to still be able to
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Craig Bristow: show a profit or at least not show significant losses in with restricted trainee trading conditions.
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Craig Bristow: You know, what are those potential fraud drivers start there and, you know, then develop into the lower level and you need to include the history of incidents, you need to include the traditional
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Craig Bristow: Fraud risks as well, but start with the structural and strategic drivers and then get yourself and I give quite a few examples of how to do that in the first chapter of the book.
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Jason Mefford: Oh, it’s great because I think, again, you know,
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Jason Mefford: Moving internal audit to the strategic level and whatever we’re doing too much of the time we start at the bottom and try to work our way up and like you said you’re dead. You’re dead at the beginning.
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Jason Mefford: At that point, we’ve got to go from the top and go down and you know like, like you said, I mean, it’s a lot of those questions that you asked our
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Jason Mefford: I don’t know if we’re afraid to ask some of those questions because we don’t want to hear the answer.
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Jason Mefford: But, you know, again, when you look at some of the largest frauds that have been perpetrated right big, big magnitude things
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Jason Mefford: There were there were some pretty common things going on, you know, publicly traded company significant incentive comp to the executives to the point that you know if you know
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Jason Mefford: as sad as it sounds, right, if, if, if somebody could get earn $20 million from their bonus
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Jason Mefford: They’re very incentivized to do whatever it takes to get that $20 million at the end of the year. And, you know, it led to
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Jason Mefford: You know price fixing on contracts to, you know, bribery and corruption to financial statement fraud to prop up the price so that stock options.
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Jason Mefford: You know, had value at the end of each quarter, you know, all of these things that that really have the biggest impact.
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Jason Mefford: You know, like you said, but but how much of the time are we worried about the person stealing a tool out of the store room or walking home with a case of product.
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Jason Mefford: Right. Those are the people that we punish and go after when the biggest impact is going to be higher up in the organization probably
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Craig Bristow: If you, if you asked.
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Craig Bristow: Most fraud functions and you say to them, what is the kind of proactive fraud, the work that you’re doing.
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Craig Bristow: And they’re gonna say, oh, we do for training with the fraud awareness. And he said, Well, tell me about your fraud awareness. Now we invite all the staff to the canteen. And we have a presentation and
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Craig Bristow: Okay, so, and the staff members that you invite you, who are either the data is clocks. The, the, the stock controllers. It’s okay. Guess what you starting off too low.
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Craig Bristow: But the but the reality is you know those people that are so highly driven that are so highly incentivized they’re equally driven, if not more driven to keep you out.
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Craig Bristow: And to avoid being detected and to do to ensure that they can carry on with these schemes and but
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Craig Bristow: We shouldn’t also be unrealistic. You know, I don’t think that tomorrow, any of your listeners should go and knock on the door and say, Hey, I’m yet to interview you. I own financial director. I’m here to
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Craig Bristow: You know, look at what you do as a job because I need to look for fraud risks. That’s also not going to help. So, you know, we need to we need to be. We need to build relationships of trust. We need to show the value
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Craig Bristow: Form good relationships with your committee chair.
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Craig Bristow: You know, start to bring out a lot of examples and and and and come with tangible and and and value adding advice of how you can do this and start small.
00:21:19.080 –> 00:21:34.110
Craig Bristow: And and and build your confidence the confidence with management and then they’ll let you in. And it’s not something which is going to happen in a month or two months, it’s going to take you two to three years. I would say that normally about three years when you start to mature.
00:21:35.370 –> 00:21:42.210
Craig Bristow: It’s not something which is just going to happen. The people that sit at the senior levels. They are normally hand picked
00:21:42.720 –> 00:21:48.930
Craig Bristow: There are people with a lot of industry knowledge that trusted people that we put at at an executive level.
00:21:49.380 –> 00:21:55.740
Craig Bristow: And and you walking in and coming in. They with guns blazing they just going to look at you and says, So this guy’s a hothead
00:21:56.280 –> 00:22:05.700
Craig Bristow: I’m not going to give him the time. But if you take the time and you invest in the relationship. Then you’re going to heal the results and also if you if you seem to be helping and not threatening.
00:22:06.900 –> 00:22:10.260
Craig Bristow: Or being a stumbling block to management, then you’re going to get their buy in.
00:22:12.150 –> 00:22:26.610
Jason Mefford: Yeah. Well, and I think, you know, like you said, it takes time to develop these relationships. Right. And again, you know, while while guns blazing rushing in is great for a movie or a TV show that’s not
00:22:27.630 –> 00:22:29.040
Jason Mefford: That’s not how you do it in your company.
00:22:29.670 –> 00:22:30.240
Jason Mefford: Either right
00:22:32.250 –> 00:22:40.890
Craig Bristow: In fact, that’s also I when you were talking about the interviewing. That’s another point that I neglected to to comment on is that
00:22:41.610 –> 00:22:55.050
Craig Bristow: What you don’t see in Hollywood is, you know, it’s typically it’s 30 minutes they, you know, they get an admission and then they get the goal and I drive off in a Italian suit in any other it, you know, it’s just, it’s not it’s not realistic.
00:22:55.740 –> 00:23:03.870
Craig Bristow: The, the, the, the two things that they don’t tell you when you start fraud investigations, is that it’s detailed detailed detailed work.
00:23:04.290 –> 00:23:10.380
Craig Bristow: And the second thing is you’re going to be dealing typically with people that you would not ordinarily choose to associate with
00:23:10.920 –> 00:23:22.380
Craig Bristow: So the level of planning and detail if you speak to your FBI counterparts. When that guy walks in to interview a terrorist. He knows everything about that person.
00:23:22.980 –> 00:23:29.310
Craig Bristow: You know I I typically have a defense file which is built up which supports me
00:23:29.850 –> 00:23:40.560
Craig Bristow: And I can navigate because the interview doesn’t always go in the sequence that you wanted to go so I can jump around. I have the confidence to move between that file to ask the questions as the interview goes
00:23:41.100 –> 00:23:47.400
Craig Bristow: So I’m normally highly prepared by the time I get in this is obviously times when I have to wing it as well.
00:23:47.970 –> 00:24:03.750
Craig Bristow: But the best interviews are the ones which are the most planned where I have analyzed all the all the invoices i’ve you know done everything that I need to do and and I lead that person to the point we get them to the question that I actually want to ask them.
00:24:06.060 –> 00:24:15.840
Jason Mefford: I think that’s, that’s an important distinction to because like you said, there’s so much work that goes into it beforehand. Right. I mean, one thing I was always taught is
00:24:16.500 –> 00:24:24.870
Jason Mefford: You should already know the answers to all the questions you’re going to ask before you go in right because, because again, and that’s why
00:24:25.650 –> 00:24:34.470
Jason Mefford: You know, you know, in that kind of level one just gathering information interview. Okay, it’s probably not that important. But when you get to the second one.
00:24:35.070 –> 00:24:41.640
Jason Mefford: You know, then it’s important because then you can ask the question, you know, like so, you know, Craig, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And you say no. And you’re like,
00:24:42.120 –> 00:24:53.640
Jason Mefford: Well, that’s funny, because I on this invoice right here. I thought this is right and so you already have things prepared because you already know what the answers are
00:24:53.940 –> 00:24:58.200
Jason Mefford: Right. And so, like you said when you go into it, you have a whole stack you know exactly
00:24:59.340 –> 00:25:05.910
Jason Mefford: You know what it is. I mean, one, one of the examples that I had because maybe we get you to share a war story or two as well but
00:25:06.480 –> 00:25:16.560
Jason Mefford: But one that I remember. You know, it was we worked on this thing for probably a month beforehand. Right. It was a person that was doing some things on their expense report, we knew
00:25:17.190 –> 00:25:29.010
Jason Mefford: Got all the information together work with local law enforcement had this whole operation where he just showed up. He thought he was going to a meeting that was called by somebody in this conference room.
00:25:30.150 –> 00:25:36.930
Jason Mefford: He gets up there and the detectives are their home or like hi so and so. Detective so and so would like to talk to you right
00:25:37.380 –> 00:25:45.900
Jason Mefford: And again, they had a whole stack of papers that we briefed him on and they went in and you know 30 minutes later they come out with a signed confession
00:25:46.380 –> 00:25:57.210
Jason Mefford: But it was a lot of work. It wasn’t just to show up DO THE HALF HOUR Hollywood interview and Boom, you’re done right that there is a lot of detail.
00:25:58.320 –> 00:26:00.930
Jason Mefford: That kind of goes into it as well. A lot of preparation.
00:26:01.860 –> 00:26:10.890
Craig Bristow: And those are the good ones, and those are the ones that you can prepare but but also often enough. We have to recognize that life happens and you know you
00:26:11.250 –> 00:26:19.050
Craig Bristow: You holding interviews, you don’t know who you interviewing. That’s the problem. So one of the opening statements that are making my chapter on interviewing is
00:26:19.560 –> 00:26:30.180
Craig Bristow: You should treat every conversation as an interview because you don’t know who you’re dealing with. You don’t know what their loyalties are you don’t know what, even if they’re not involved.
00:26:30.210 –> 00:26:31.110
Craig Bristow: They may be
00:26:31.470 –> 00:26:43.560
Craig Bristow: As management, it may not be in the best interest for this fraud to come out or you know they didn’t really want you to spend all those dollars on investigation they they they’ve got other pressures or something.
00:26:44.610 –> 00:26:53.070
Craig Bristow: So treat every conversation as an interview and then you will be surprised the kind of results that you get
00:26:53.670 –> 00:27:06.690
Craig Bristow: So it’s kind of a discipline. So when I start off, I introduce myself and I always introduce myself in a very, I don’t read off my credentials and I typically try not to use titles.
00:27:07.110 –> 00:27:14.400
Craig Bristow: I will just say, and I typically also play the, the, the, the card that I don’t understand that. Can you just help me out and I
00:27:14.400 –> 00:27:15.150
Craig Bristow: Say hi.
00:27:15.360 –> 00:27:15.930
Craig Bristow: Vague and
00:27:17.160 –> 00:27:28.020
Craig Bristow: Just like you to perhaps and and and and a lot of the seats. The, the, the lowest level of the seat is avoidance. So that will try and keep you away and you know plays and persistence.
00:27:28.500 –> 00:27:34.230
Craig Bristow: You, you, you get the interview you sit down and then I like to start with non threatening questions so
00:27:35.220 –> 00:27:44.160
Craig Bristow: You know, Jason I you the, the financial manager of this business unit. You know, I haven’t been to this business units before. Can you perhaps tell me a little bit, just for my own understanding.
00:27:44.400 –> 00:27:51.990
Craig Bristow: Can you perhaps tell me a little bit about your roles and responsibilities and then this general because that’s not threatening and quite frankly, a lot of people like talking about what they do.
00:27:52.530 –> 00:28:02.340
Craig Bristow: And then also, okay, really, you know, approving of of procurement and invoices and okay, that’s fantastic. Can you tell me a little bit more about that. I don’t have work here.
00:28:03.000 –> 00:28:10.380
Craig Bristow: And now you’ve actually demonstrated to me that you have knowledge of the rule and you have knowledge of the procedure, you can’t actually later on, say, I didn’t know
00:28:11.130 –> 00:28:23.100
Craig Bristow: And then I put that invoice on the table I Stephen. That’s fantastic. Thank you for explaining this process to me as an example. Can you perhaps explain this invoice to me and then I look at the invoice in the face drops
00:28:23.700 –> 00:28:26.100
Jason Mefford: Because it’s one that you’d already prepared and it’s in your
00:28:26.130 –> 00:28:33.270
Craig Bristow: The one I’ve already prepared and, you know, then you say to them, Well, why don’t you start at the beginning you lower your tone of your voice.
00:28:33.810 –> 00:28:41.610
Craig Bristow: And you sort of look at them in a more compassionate way and you say, why don’t you start at the beginning. Why don’t you tell me. When it first happened.
00:28:42.450 –> 00:28:54.060
Craig Bristow: And then you see the face turn and then you know you’ve got them and then you slowly reel them in. And an even after they have they have admitted to it. You say, Thank you very much.
00:28:55.380 –> 00:28:58.950
Craig Bristow: You know, this is serious. I unfortunately I’m gonna have to take this further.
00:29:00.120 –> 00:29:08.580
Craig Bristow: However, you know, it’s two to cooperate using your best interest. And, you know, we’ll, we’ll see how we can handle this best
00:29:09.570 –> 00:29:19.560
Craig Bristow: So keep that respect gang because you you most times you will have to interview them a couple of times. So that first interview or the second interview may not be the final interview.
00:29:20.730 –> 00:29:29.520
Jason Mefford: Well, I think that respect part is is so important, too, because I know that, you know, I don’t know if it’s been your experience too but
00:29:30.660 –> 00:29:36.510
Jason Mefford: In mind, most, most of the people that were committing some sort of fraud.
00:29:37.560 –> 00:29:48.450
Jason Mefford: Are good people that just made some bad choices. And in fact, it usually is eating them up on the inside. They can’t, you know, there’s like this big relief.
00:29:49.110 –> 00:29:50.790
Jason Mefford: When it finally comes out.
00:29:51.150 –> 00:30:02.160
Jason Mefford: I mean, unless you’re dealing with a psychopath, which is, you know, two to 5% of the population and just absolutely does not know right from wrong and I mean you’re smiling.
00:30:03.600 –> 00:30:04.260
Craig Bristow: Some of those
00:30:06.060 –> 00:30:07.590
Jason Mefford: We’ve all come across some of those, but
00:30:07.980 –> 00:30:10.230
Craig Bristow: The profile of a lot of the white collar criminal
00:30:11.400 –> 00:30:12.180
Jason Mefford: It is usually
00:30:12.210 –> 00:30:12.720
00:30:13.980 –> 00:30:16.470
Jason Mefford: But yeah, there’s, there’s so much of the time that
00:30:16.560 –> 00:30:18.000
Jason Mefford: That it really is.
00:30:19.110 –> 00:30:29.370
Jason Mefford: They’re not bad people they’ve just done some bad things, and obviously things have to be taken care of. But, you know, to keep that respect going and realize that
00:30:30.570 –> 00:30:42.510
Jason Mefford: You know, just like most of the people that you come across in corporate fraud are not going to be the Hollywood villain, you know, just that evil dark character and sometimes they are
00:30:45.000 –> 00:30:47.010
Jason Mefford: Not in your head, like maybe a lot of me.
00:30:50.460 –> 00:30:53.250
Jason Mefford: But to remember that it is still a human being on the other side.
00:30:53.280 –> 00:31:06.330
Craig Bristow: Is as well. I, you, you, you make me think about something else about the book, I have an interesting chapter which I call the rules, the visual chapter and it’s it’s not something you would find
00:31:07.020 –> 00:31:18.090
Craig Bristow: In a textbook, but there were certain things that were taught to me and and what I do is when I’m entering my staff is I repeat those sort of mantras and I will say to them.
00:31:19.380 –> 00:31:28.890
Craig Bristow: People do and say things for a reason. That’s one of probably the rule that I repeat, the most most often. And I say to them, why did they say that what was the psychology behind what they said.
00:31:29.310 –> 00:31:42.420
Craig Bristow: So I have these rules that I repeat, and reinforce them and and it’s actually so pleasing to me when my staff use my own rules against me and tell it to me as if you know they thought about it, and it’s actually great.
00:31:43.320 –> 00:31:49.110
Craig Bristow: But one of the rules that I have, which not certainly not one of the most important ones is that
00:31:50.670 –> 00:31:54.660
Craig Bristow: It said there’s two of them that are related, Robin Hood is of course a fairy tale.
00:31:55.800 –> 00:32:06.060
Craig Bristow: I’ve actually never met Robin Hood in in my career and I’ve never met somebody who was stolen. Because to have a sick child when alien grandmother
00:32:07.560 –> 00:32:14.040
Craig Bristow: And my mentor taught me that it’s always about sex gambling or drugs.
00:32:15.210 –> 00:32:17.370
Craig Bristow: SO MAD some advice.
00:32:17.490 –> 00:32:18.750
Craig Bristow: Some advice that they have
00:32:20.190 –> 00:32:24.750
Craig Bristow: Or combination of those and you know the the the
00:32:25.410 –> 00:32:35.700
Craig Bristow: The legitimate money is taken up in the lifestyle because people often say to me, Oh, well, the economy’s dance. I suppose fraud will go up and I say yes, but not for the reason you suggesting
00:32:36.180 –> 00:32:46.500
Craig Bristow: It, it will increase because the economy’s bad and I don’t have enough money to spend on my vice so I’m spending it on food on the table and school fees and utility bills.
00:32:47.490 –> 00:32:52.050
Craig Bristow: But I don’t have enough to go gambling. So now I need to start stealing money in order to gamble.
00:32:52.680 –> 00:33:01.440
Craig Bristow: And and and and certainly when we profiling people and and and we know that money’s gone missing. But we don’t know there’s 10 people in the office. Who could it be who’s most likely
00:33:01.860 –> 00:33:11.400
Craig Bristow: Then we start to look for those lifestyle indicators, you know, who’s the person who has the lavish lifestyle. That’s always going on vacations.
00:33:11.730 –> 00:33:21.810
Craig Bristow: That’s always seems to be having jewelry was was was talking about the, the great winnings at the head at the at the races. They never talked about the losses they would look at the winnings.
00:33:22.590 –> 00:33:37.590
Craig Bristow: You know, you start to pick up these lifestyle indicators and that often leads you to the most likely people and that combined with your other investigative techniques can often identify the perpetrators.
00:33:38.220 –> 00:33:47.310
Jason Mefford: Yeah. Well, like you said, you know, most of the time it is, it’s not an ailing grandmother. It’s some addictive behavior. It’s some reason.
00:33:50.070 –> 00:33:59.610
Jason Mefford: You know, and again. Yeah, like you said in economic times like this because this is one of the things that I tell people is whenever economic times get hard, which we’re entering into that now.
00:34:00.300 –> 00:34:16.200
Jason Mefford: The, the, the frequency of fraud will probably go up and some of it is because you know people are living outside of their means in general because they’ve got an addictive behavior, let’s say. And a lot of times people will they’ll, they’ll pre
00:34:17.730 –> 00:34:28.350
Jason Mefford: Pre spend their next raise or their next bonus as an example. Right. And so when those things get cut back
00:34:29.010 –> 00:34:43.230
Jason Mefford: All of a sudden it’s like, oh, I’ve already spent the money for whatever. Right. Yeah. And now, Guido is going to come break my legs because I can’t pay back my gambling debt that I thought I was going to be able to pay because of my quarterly bonus
00:34:43.680 –> 00:34:50.190
Jason Mefford: But now that I don’t have my quarterly bonus or if I got furloughed for a few weeks, and now I’m behind
00:34:50.730 –> 00:34:58.380
Jason Mefford: On everything else, then there’s this need a real need and sometimes it is Guido wanting to break your legs.
00:34:59.610 –> 00:35:10.350
Jason Mefford: For people to do some of these things and find a way to try to make up for what they rationalize was theirs. To begin with, or that they should have had to
00:35:11.790 –> 00:35:28.380
Jason Mefford: So we will probably see more of this, to which is all the reasons why I wanted to talk is right and like i said i mean the the book. You know, everybody can use a mentor. Not everybody has one, so it’s nice that there’s an option like this that people can go to
00:35:29.850 –> 00:35:40.770
Jason Mefford: To be able to get some advice and when their way through it when they’re that deer in the headlight like Oh no. What am I gonna do now. Right. I wish I would have had that book when I started out
00:35:42.780 –> 00:35:56.610
Craig Bristow: Yeah I it’s received very good reviews the people that use it. I’ve had a couple of people phoned me up and say, Look, it’s so easy to read and, you know, like you said, I just wished that had somebody tell them, those things.
00:35:57.690 –> 00:35:58.290
Craig Bristow: So, yeah.
00:36:00.150 –> 00:36:11.310
Craig Bristow: But when you said that we’re coming to break the nice it reminded me of another war story and and the duty changing the topic a little bit, but the duty that we have to protect witnesses.
00:36:12.840 –> 00:36:30.870
Craig Bristow: I had a matter where whistleblower had contacted me and told me about a kickback scheme that was happening with this person that was signing off on the, the, the use of subcontractors was demanding his cuts from the subcontractors.
00:36:31.680 –> 00:36:45.780
Craig Bristow: And the, the company wasn’t overpaying. It wasn’t that they were loading the price, but the subcontractor was suffering because they had to stand off say $5 of the right to to to this person.
00:36:46.950 –> 00:36:47.640
Craig Bristow: And
00:36:48.720 –> 00:36:58.440
Craig Bristow: I I jumped on a plane and and and went off to the place and, you know, meet with the whistleblower, and the second time when I went back
00:36:59.670 –> 00:37:04.740
Craig Bristow: The whistleblower disappeared and couldn’t contact the whistleblower and
00:37:05.820 –> 00:37:15.510
Craig Bristow: We eventually dismissed the person concern. In fact, we we exercise the easy option we didn’t renew the contract and and we got rid of them.
00:37:16.020 –> 00:37:29.640
Craig Bristow: In in that manner, but what I found out afterwards that happened was that they had somehow got a sniff that this person was the whistleblower, and they’d physically heading beaten up or thugs.
00:37:30.090 –> 00:37:39.450
Craig Bristow: And he had fled to a to a neighboring town and it still haunts me and I still go through that in my mind, and I think to myself, hi wasn’t my fault.
00:37:39.900 –> 00:37:49.440
Craig Bristow: Did I slip up was too casual and I didn’t mention the person’s name, but somehow when I went there. Did I managed to, you know, put them at risk.
00:37:50.040 –> 00:38:01.080
Craig Bristow: And and and this is a very real thing that we have to do. And sometimes it’s an early consideration as soon as a Ford becomes a way we need to say to ourselves, right, what is the immediate steps that we need to take
00:38:02.070 –> 00:38:11.340
Craig Bristow: Easy somebody we need to protect someone we need to inform and and and and then decide before we start diving into the investigation. Yeah.
00:38:11.820 –> 00:38:16.560
Jason Mefford: Now that’s a very real thing and something we could spend a whole nother episode on because
00:38:17.790 –> 00:38:21.750
Jason Mefford: Yeah, almost every time that I’ve done an investigation to its
00:38:23.010 –> 00:38:29.190
Jason Mefford: People want to know who said something. It’s almost like it’s it’s a curiosity.
00:38:30.720 –> 00:38:40.980
Jason Mefford: Sometimes it’s a little more than a curiosity, but everybody kind of wants to know. And just to remind people, it doesn’t matter who the whistleblower is
00:38:41.220 –> 00:38:50.250
Jason Mefford: What only matters is what they said is true or not. And that’s what we’re going to try to figure out, but like you said there’s there’s
00:38:52.530 –> 00:39:07.680
Jason Mefford: There’s usually some sort of retaliation. That makes it back to the people who have the courage to stand up and so everything and anything we can do to try to protect them is a big part of our job. I think as well because like you said, I’ve, I’ve seen
00:39:09.270 –> 00:39:13.590
Jason Mefford: And spent significantly more effort trying to protect people
00:39:14.730 –> 00:39:18.540
Jason Mefford: That were in a sense than actually doing the investigation sometimes
00:39:19.290 –> 00:39:20.310
Craig Bristow: It. Yes.
00:39:21.540 –> 00:39:29.130
Craig Bristow: But, but also, a lot of times when people want to know, they, it’s very much at the early stage and
00:39:29.880 –> 00:39:45.990
Craig Bristow: Of course, we can’t always say who it is, but if manager wants to know that. Oh, no. That’s just Joe he’s he’s he’s disgruntled but I’ve got some of my best information from disgruntled people and and and from spouses that have been cheated on
00:39:47.130 –> 00:39:47.790
Jason Mefford: You know you
00:39:47.880 –> 00:39:50.850
Craig Bristow: You do need to understand where the information comes from
00:39:51.960 –> 00:40:03.780
Craig Bristow: They could definitely be credibility concerns with the information but you you use that as your entry point and then you build on that and you get your, your, your evidence which supports that.
00:40:04.320 –> 00:40:12.630
Craig Bristow: So you don’t dismiss it. Just because Joe is a disgruntled employee and himself and effect the particular subcontractor in that war story that I told you.
00:40:13.920 –> 00:40:20.790
Craig Bristow: Who phoned me up. He was basically made himself guilty of being in a corrupt relationship.
00:40:21.930 –> 00:40:35.370
Craig Bristow: You know, and I didn’t, I didn’t tell him that I just said thank you for the information, but as it turned out there was no criminal liability on him. In the end, but it could have been incriminated himself.
00:40:36.750 –> 00:40:54.330
Craig Bristow: You know, so it, you, you, you can’t dismiss the information just because they the sources, perhaps not as credible as you would like. You use as your entry point and then you decide based on the facts. If it’s credible or not credible. Yeah.
00:40:55.950 –> 00:40:57.720
Jason Mefford: Lot to this.
00:40:58.950 –> 00:41:06.540
Jason Mefford: Which again is why we can’t cover everything today. I wish we could, but the Craig thing. THANKS FOR COMING ON AND TALKING ABOUT THIS, YOU KNOW, I know it’s
00:41:07.620 –> 00:41:18.570
Jason Mefford: You know, like you said you you felt like the deer in the headlights at one point in your career. I felt the same way. I’m sure other people that are out there listening are feeling the same way. Because sometimes
00:41:20.340 –> 00:41:26.250
Jason Mefford: You know we just get into some of these situations and investigations in particular.
00:41:27.600 –> 00:41:29.580
Jason Mefford: There’s always twists and turns
00:41:30.060 –> 00:41:37.050
Jason Mefford: It and you have no idea when you get into some of these things where it’s going to lead.
00:41:37.620 –> 00:41:51.240
Jason Mefford: And because of that, you know, it’s new is different. You’ve probably never experienced it before. So this is where having mentors, you know, bringing in people that have done it before, to help train you getting things like your book.
00:41:52.350 –> 00:41:57.720
Jason Mefford: Because the more prepared, we can be. You never really learn it. And so you go through it.
00:41:58.470 –> 00:42:02.490
Jason Mefford: But at least the more prepared you are before you experience it.
00:42:02.940 –> 00:42:06.390
Jason Mefford: Usually, the better results will end up having so
00:42:06.540 –> 00:42:13.620
Craig Bristow: Absolutely, absolutely. And and and I just want to encourage people to share as much as they can because
00:42:14.040 –> 00:42:21.690
Craig Bristow: You know, perhaps, I come from an auditing background someone else comes from an accounting background and someone else comes from an engineering background or whatever.
00:42:22.110 –> 00:42:35.940
Craig Bristow: It’s not possible for us all to be experts on everything. But if we share and we and we support each other. That’s the best chance that we have and and and that’s what I want to encourage people, you know, make it, make it
00:42:37.200 –> 00:42:48.000
Craig Bristow: Comfortable environment for us to taste and to learn and even to fail to some degree, you know, don’t be scared to ask the question of your colleagues, because that’s going to be some of your best learnings that
00:42:49.350 –> 00:43:00.360
Jason Mefford: We all need to share more and you know help each other so that we can make it through. Stop. Stop. Some of this stuff from happening. But yeah, nobody likes to be the deer in the headlights, so
00:43:01.350 –> 00:43:04.020
Jason Mefford: Reach out to people learn what you can beforehand.
00:43:05.070 –> 00:43:21.000
Jason Mefford: Because chances are, you know, you may end up in some of these situations because both Greg and I have ended up in those same situations, and I’m sure a lot of people listening have have been there, or will be there potentially in your career as well. So Craig. Thank you.
00:43:21.240 –> 00:43:22.920
Craig Bristow: Might have to absolutely patient
00:43:23.490 –> 00:43:29.580
Jason Mefford: Might have to do another one on a deeper topic because there were a couple of tangents. We could have gone down to, but then we would have been here for over an hour so
00:43:30.990 –> 00:43:31.920
Craig Bristow: Sounds good.
00:43:32.430 –> 00:43:33.300
Jason Mefford: Alright, well thanks
00:43:34.530 –> 00:43:35.910
Craig Bristow: Perfect. Thank you very much.