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Part of being a good private investigator is keeping up with the research and trends of fraud and deviant behavior.  The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) produces numerous articles on fraud and fraud prevention.  Recently, I came across a very interesting article by Ryan C. Hubbs, a fellow Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE).  In the article, Hubbs makes a strong point that discovering workplace deviant behavior may lead to more serious discoveries, such as fraud; therefore, identifying the correlation between deviant behavior and fraud improves the ability to uncover fraud.

In numerous fraud cases, Hobbs would notice that the immoral employee displayed signs such as watching porn, bullying, harassing, and participating in other behaviors which provoked complaints in Human Resources.

In one of Hubbs’ investigations, he investigated an employee who had been caught watching adult movies and purchasing them with the company credit card. Apparently, this employee had begun this secretive behavior on the first day of the job and had continued to hide the addiction for several years, racking up thousands of dollars in credit card charges.  This case ended as most related cases do — with the employee’s resignation.

After the resignation, Hobbs discovered that this behavior was merely the tip of the iceberg.  An audit of this non-profit organization’s donations showed that an additional $50,000 was stolen. Another audit of cash of the cash disbursements account reveled that this ex-employee had written personal checks totaling more than $28,000.  Shockingly, the total amount of fraud was more than $82,000.

While an employee committing fraud may be able to cancel the fraud, keeping their deviant behavior secretive is more difficult. If management can begin to see the correlation between the existence of deviant behavior and fraud, there is a strong possibility that the fraud can be prevented or mitigated.

What Do You Need To Do To Assure That You Are Being Vigilant Regarding Fraud?

  1. Do you have strong HR polices in place that prevent deviant behavior?
  2. Does you company have a strongly worded IT and PC use policy statement that does not allow the visiting of porn and other adult content websites?
  3. Does your firm conduct routine audits of all employees that have access to computers and the Internet in addition to audits of the the websites that the employees visit?
  4. Is there segregation of duties that does not allow the same person to request, write, and cash checks?
  5. Are basic audits performed on cash and credit card usage?
  6. Does your firm take a top down approach regarding preventing deviant behavior?

This list contains just a few of many preventative measures that can be put into place to help identify someone in your organization that may be on the path to committing fraud.  An experienced private investigator and Certified Fraud Examiner can review your company’s polices and practices to help put the strongest meters in place to ensure that deviant behaviors and fraud is prevented.

mccann banner5 600x204 Cheating Wife or Husband?

 

Instant Communication, Covered Tracks, and Cheating Websites – Cheating Is Now Easier to Hide than Ever.

Secret affairs have been breaking marriage commitments as long as lovers have been saying “I do.” However, with the rise of the Internet, having an affair is now as simple as the click of a mouse or the touch of a smart phone. Illicit texts, bathroom phone calls, video chats – instant communication has made cheating easier and more enticing than ever before.

With the rise of technology-assisted affairs has come the rise in websites that specialize in keeping cheating hidden. Cheating wives and husbands are using these websites to cover up their acts of infidelity. The people who own them are making money by ensuring that their clients’ affairs are as sly and untraceable as possible. I witnessed the rational of one of these web-based companies, Ashley Madison, first hand when I was assigned to protect its CEO while he participated in a debate with religious leaders about the damage an affair can cause. There is indeed money to be made with these kinds of businesses, but there is also the inevitable damage that will be caused when the cheating goes wrong – and, as a private investigator, believe me, they all go wrong. Whether the other spouse finds out or the secret lover wants more, in the end, they blow up… and it is ugly.

What should you do if you suspect that your wife or husband is cheating on you? As the victim, the last thing that you want to do is to confront your spouse or even hint that you are suspicious before an investigation has been done. Tipping your hand too early could make gathering substantial evidence nearly impossible. Instead, it is important to step back and form a strategy.

First, there are some things to know in order to make sure that you can protect yourself in the future:

  • Do you know where the money is, how much there should be, and who handles it?
  • Do you regularly review your credit card statements?
  • Do you know about all the bank accounts?
  • Does your spouse have a P.O. Box? Do you have access to open it at your own will?
  • Do you have assets? If so, what do you have, where are they, and how can you protect them?

Once you have answered these questions to the best of your knowledge, contact a professional, modern private investigation firm with computer and digital forensic capabilities. Private investigators are trained to conduct a complete investigation to discover if your spouse is a cheater and to gather sufficient, court-upheld proof, if so. Even regardless of how thoroughly your adulterer’s assisted-affairs website has claimed to cover his or her tracks, with the aid of a professional private investigator and forensics expert, you will be provided with accurate details of the affair that can be used in court to protect your interests.

How Can a Private Investigator Help if You Suspect that You Are Living with a Cheating Wife or Husband?

Having a private investigator uncover an affair is nothing new, but grainy photos of a spouse checking into a hotel are outdated and inefficient. Forensic investigators are highly skilled at using the latest technology to retrieve hidden or deleted files, text messages, encrypted data, emails, and call logs. Even if your unfaithful spouse deleted all pertinent evidence, it is possible that a forensic investigator can recover all or much of it, protect your and your assets, and testify in court as to the accuracy of the information presented. Cheating wives and husbands, when presented with solid evidence collected by a forensic investigator, have no choice but to acknowledge their affairs.

Ray Gilley, the president and lead private investigator of McCann Investigations, a Dallas/Fort Worth private investigation firm, has been proudly awarded a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) credential by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (AFCE), the world’s largest anti-fraud organization and a leading provider of anti-fraud training and education.

To meet the strict requirements established by the AFCE for CFE certification, Gilley successfully demonstrated expertise in four areas critical to the identification of fraud: Fraudulent Financial Transactions, Fraud Prevention and Deterrence, Legal Elements of Fraud, and Fraud Investigation.

As a CFE, Ray Gilley has the ability to professionally perform the following: examine data and records to detect and trace fraudulent transactions; interview suspects to obtain information and confessions; write investigation reports; advise clients as to their findings; testify at trial; understand the law as it relates to fraud and fraud investigations; and identify the underlying factors that motivate individuals to commit fraud.

Along with holding his new CFE credential in all areas of fraud investigation and prevention, Ray Gilley excels in computer forensics, investigative services, background investigations, and electronic security, with extensive proficiency in facility security, executive and VIP protection, and event security.

Ray Gilley’s private investigation firm, McCann Investigations, maintains the tools and expertise to perform investigations that combine digital forensics with personal private investigation (PI) services for individuals, organizations, and companies in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. His team of private investigators is familiar with the challenges confronted by the technology companies in the metroplex, such as intellectual property theft from domestic and foreign competitors. From digital debugging to surveillance, they have faithfully served local leading CEOs, corporations, and law firms for the last 10 years.

In part one of this post, I discussed the dangers of the trusted assistant.  I said that, although the trusted assistant is the person that every CEO needs (the right hand that ensures that everything works smoothly), in some cases that same assistant can go afoul and take advantage of the trust placed in him or her by the CEO.  Family pressures, such as divorce, custody battles, and other changes in lifestyle, can create a force that causes our valuable and trusted assistant to commit fraud.

In this part two, I want to offer some prevention steps that can be implemented to help reduce the possibility of theft by someone in a position of trust.  Some of these prevention steps are standard measures that all companies can and should have in place, though are not used many times and create an environment where theft is just too tempting. Implementing some of the items listed below will help mitigate the risk of fraud.

1. Segregation of duties: This is a basic level-one prevention method.  Separate the receiving, issuing, and collection of payments to prevent fraudulent payment requests.

2. Purchases made by a separate party: If the assistant has been told to buy something, a third party should receive the approved request with the manager’s approval and make the purchase.

3. Background checks: These should be a policy that all companies have in place.  Prior to each hiring decision, a background check should be run on the candidate.  Background checks can bring to light serious infractions that may help cull out a potential problem employee.  One mistake does not make a person a criminal, but several tell a story.  Why put the company at risk?

4. Review accounting records: CEOs or CFOs should review accounting records related to purchases by the assistant.  Many times it is just assumed that everything is ok for the assistant.  No one stops to ask if the assistant should be buying or ordering certain items.  Management review is crucial.

5. CEO sign off on expense reports: Each person making purchases should be required to fill out an expense report and submit it to management for sign off.

6. Donation regulation: Donation recepiants should be in a database and compared to staff records to make sure donations are not going to an employee’s relative unknowingly.

7. Time sheet review: Someone should review the assistant’s payroll records on a routine basis.  Do not exempt the assistant from this review just because he or she has access to the boss.

Some of the steps listed above may seem simplistic or, in some cases, heavy handed; however, the bottom line is that prevention often keeps fraud from occurring or at least from getting out of control.  Your staff needs to know that there are controls in place and that reviews will occur.  No company can completely prevent theft from occurring, but a reasonable set of controls will provide an environment that does not allow for fraud to be committed easily.  Certifed Fraud Examiners can implement controls to support crime prevention in the workplace.  CFEs understand the overall basics of fraud prevention and can help your company prevent the trusted assistant from taking that first step down the wrong path.

Executives today would be lost without their trusted assistants who help them manage their lives and stay organized and on track. While most assistants have the best interest of their boss and company in mind, there is a growing epidemic of the bad assistant. A bad assistant has exceptional skills and work ethic yet begins committing fraud or stealing by using the power of his or her position to access a few seemingly unnoticeable bonuses or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In most cases, the bad assistant is known as a model worker who has developed a trusted relationship with their boss and is often regarded as a friend to others in the office.

Someone with any of the following things is a potential source of extreme undercover damage:

  • Company credit cards
  • Passwords
  • Ability to write checks or create purchase orders
  • Authority to request and make payments to outside vendors
  • Authority to approve her own timecard

How could your most trusted employee even imagine secretly turning against you by stealing from you? The beginning of the fraud or stealing usually starts with a difficult life change – a divorce or a child custody dispute.  Sometimes, the straw that breaks the camel’s back could be no longer having the ability to keep his or her kids in private school or not having the extra money to go on an annual summer vacation.  The first thefts, normally small (inflated hours on her time card, a lunch with the company’s money) are often rationalized by thoughts that he or she has been underpaid.  Confident that his or her tracks are too small to be noticed, he or she becomes less guilty and more comfortable with the idea committing fraud or stealing.

With all schemes of this kind, the web eventually begins to untangle. Either the bad assistant happens to leave a forged credit card receipt under his or her desk or a trail of checks lacking supporting documents comes into question.  After a long, drawn-out time, the scheme normally finds its way out into the open, but often not before the business has been badly harmed.

After the shock wears off, an undercover investigation has now become essential to helping the management assess the extent of the damage.

In the next post, our Dallas private investigator team will address the undercover investigation process and some preventative measures to avoid getting to the place of such a devastating surprise.

In the last post, I wrote about the warning signs of a problem Chief Information Officer or IT Manager in organizations today.  For a brief review, the signs include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The Chief Information Officer never takes time off.  As we spoke on before, this does leave the individual looking sympathetic; however, the truth may be that remaining on the job at all times allows him or her to control everything and keep the fraud from falling apart.
  • The Chief Information Officer is “the smartest person in the room.” He or she believes this, and everyone else is led to believe this as well.
  • The Chief Information Officer overrides IT security policies.
  • The Chief Information Officer has inappropriate/unlimited access to information throughout the company.
  • The Chief Information Officer has a large ego.
  • The Chief Information Officer has a questionably close “sidekick.”

Although one of these signs alone may not be of much concern, if your key Chief Information Officer possesses several or all of these, a control strategy needs to be implemented to ensure that your company is safe from fraud and unethical behavior.

The following list provides some basic steps (from a prevention standpoint) that will help you and your management team keep your company safe from a problem Chief Information Officer.

1. I could shout this from the rooftops all day long: Do not have your IT Security Manager report to your Chief Information Officer.  This would threaten any secure IT environment.  Your IT Security Manager should report directly to the CEO, the internal security team, or the audit team.  It is critical that a thorough security policy be implemented and that the IT Security Manager has the freedom to operate without overrides from the Chief Information Officer.

2. Use sound third party services to test both the internal network as well as the external network.  There are resources in your market that can perform network vulnerability assessments to ensure that your network is safe from both inside and outside attacks.

3. If you suspect foul play or you have already come to the decision to release your Chief Information Officer, you may want to employ a network assessment team to review your current policies, test your network, and review logs and other key security items. This will help you make sure that you are not surprised by what you are left with when the Chief Information Officer flies the coop.

4. If you suspect a crime (such as malicious damage to your system or theft of data, trade secrets, or other vital company information), it is time to hire a licensed private investigator that possesses forensic capabilities.  In case you decide to proceed with legal action, images of key drives should be taken in order to preserve evidence.  It is vital that you do not turn this task over to your current IT staff that is left behind. Not only do you not know who may be involved in any illegal activities, but the IT staff does not posses the same skills as a licensed computer forensics technician does.

Be proactive if you suspect foul play. Even if your Chief Information Officer is simply moving on, implement a review to ensure that your company does not face a loss or an embarrassing moment later.  Prevention and detection to ensure that your IT network is safe will be worth the money you spend.

If you need either the services described above or other investigative services, please contact me, Ray Gilley, and the McCann Investigations DFW team. We have the skills and the computer force to conduct a thorough, productive investigation.

The Chief Information Officer or IT Manager has a position like no other in companies today.  Specialized knowledge and skill-set put this person in a position to do great things in today’s business world.  More than ever, companies today depend on the IT department to facilitate almost all areas of the company.  While the Chief Information Officer or IT Manager can help their company grow, they can also do great damage to their company and its customers if left unchecked.

In a recent private investigation case, I saw just how powerful the destruction of a runaway Chief Information Officer can be first-hand.  Investigators such as myself have been taught the warning signs of problem Chief Information Officers, which include the following:

1. The Chief Information Officer never takes time off.  Most members of an organization tend to have empathy for the Chief Information Officer due to the mystery behind what happens in the IT world.  The constant pressure to make sure that all systems are working correctly and that all functions are operating smoothly leads most to believe that it must be difficult or impossible for our professionals to take a vacation or even a few days of break. If you have a Chief Information Officer who is possibly committing fraud, however, getting that person out of the office and allowing the evidence to surface is exactly what is required.  The Chief Information Officer’s ability to keep their fraud undercover is an essential part of their plan.  Their ego tells them that they can continue to perpetrate the crime as long as they can manage the situation.

2. The Chief Information Officer is regarded as the smartest person in the room.  This is a problematic (and unfortunately common) fact, because the Chief Information Officer becomes so revered that people come to fear him or her.  The CEO and management team begin to believe that this person is so knowledgeable and essential that there is no choice but to go along with whatever the Chief Information Officer wants or suggests.  They believe that no other person could save the company from doom and mayhem except for the Chief Information Officer.

3. The Chief Information Officer overrides IT security policies.  I have seen instances where the IT Security Manager was working and reporting directly to the Chief Information Officer, who was then preventing even basic IT security measures from being properly performed.  ”No” is the common answer given to the IT Security Manager when he or she wants to implement a security protocol or security procedure (at times, even something as simple as log inspections).

4. The Chief Information Officer has inappropriate/unbridled access to other areas of the company.  Does your Chief Information Officer seem to know about what is happening in HR –  who is getting fired and who is being hired?  I have seen cases where the Chief Information Officer had complete access to the CEO’s email account, as well as HR files, records, and other information. Oftentimes, such information is used in a damaging or threatening way to control or intimidate other employees.  Even the CEO should not have access to everything in an organization.

5. The Chief Information Officer has a large ego.  Problem Chief Information Officers often have prideful hearts, believing that they are superior to the rest of the team members.  Especially be wary of those who directly tell you that you would be in big trouble without them.

6. The Chief Information Officer has a questionably close sidekick. I have discovered in some of my private investigation cases that the Chief Information Officer establishes such a relationship with someone in either the same department or another department.  They constantly hang out or go to lunch, dinner, and happy hour together.  The sidekick seems to know a lot about the company that they have no business knowing.  When someone wants to commit a fraud, they often prey on a lower-ranked employee, who can be used to help perpetrate the crime.  Oftentimes, the sidekick ends up taking the fall for internal theft, credit card fraud, or other frauds that are actually committed by the problem Chief Information Officer.

In an upcoming post, I will provide a list of basic steps on preventing the runaway Chief Information Officer or IT Manager from damaging your company, using computer forensics and network analysis tools from McCann Investigations DFW.

Are You about to Hire the Wrong Person?

On one late Friday afternoon, I received an email from an employer in Dallas, asking me to do a last-minute digital background check on a potential future employee that the company wanted to hire that very day. It seems that a prior company had been given the task of performing the digital background check several days prior but had failed to respond to the request.

Using my sources, I began the normal process of putting the digital background screen together. The report revealed some interesting findings on the individual in question, including the use of a false Social Security number, traffic violations, hot checks, and other corrupt findings.

After thoroughly verifying my findings, I sent the complete report to the client. With much gratitude, the client called to thank me for quickly creating the report and saving the company many potential problems.

With the resources of McCann Investigations in Dallas/Fort Worth on your side, you no longer have to make another poor and dangerous hiring decision. We perform all levels of digital background checks (from entry level to management level) and even offer international digital background checks. When you consider making an offer to a potential future employee, McCann Investigations will perform a thorough and professional digital background screening.

What is Network Forensics?

Network forensics, or IT forensics, is a field of computer science that involves extracting forensic evidence from computer networks, particularly for use as criminal evidence. The extraction can either be proactive, actively capturing network packets for use as evidence, or it can be from network log files or logged information on routers, nodes, and other network devices.

Captured network packets can be used to recreate transferred files, analyze security threats, and find and identify network intruders. Although evidence on a computer or network drive may be destroyed, McCann Investigators can identify a culprit by using data stored on network devices to identify unauthorized access to the computer or network device.

McCann Investigation’s Network Forensic Services
McCann Investigators provide network forensics services for internal use within a company, for forensically-sound courtroom evidence, and as expert testimony for criminal cases. We combine this with our penetration testing services to provide high-level, comprehensive reports that can greatly support your side of a legal case.

Digital intruders often replace system programs with custom versions. Such programs perform malicious operations, such as monitoring keystrokes or providing remote access to the attacker. These invaders are often difficult and time consuming to detect. To make this process as efficient as possible, McCann Investigators utilize two of the industry’s most respected tools – Nessus and QualysGuard – as well as specialized proprietary software, to identify and remediate security threats during the digital debugging process.

The scanning system is driven by the most comprehensive, up-to-date knowledgebase of vulnerability checks in the industry. QualysGuard delivers continuous protection against the latest worms and security threats. Performing over 150 million system audits per year, it is the widest-deployed on-demand security solution in the world.

The Nessus Scanner detects and identifies the most malicious types of malware (such as spyware and keyloggers) that can capture and transmit confidential session data. This powerful scanner performs sophisticated, remote scans and audits of Unix, Windows, and network infrastructures. Any non-compliant hosts (such as systems running P2P, spyware, or common malware) are detected and identified.