Beyond the Queue
Oct 9, 2023
The Art & Biz of Fighting Fraud | Introduction
Have you ever felt that the deeper you dove into your investigations, the more it seemed your career stalled?
I still remember a case early in my career — a web of fraud rings, which I unraveled after many hours of staring at my screen. Yet, when I presented my findings, it barely made a ripple in management.
Every day I was becoming a better fraud fighter - mastering complex cases and multiple tools. Soon, investigating felt like second nature.
But frustration began to overshadow my expertise.
Like many in our field, I believed that by keeping my head down and focusing solely on my work, I was proving my worth to the company. I thought handling fraud alone would make me invaluable. The notion was simple: become so indispensable in handling fraud that the company can't imagine functioning without you.
But the reality? I felt like I was on an island — disconnected, overlooked, and undervalued.
I prepared presenting my month-long investigation of that fraud ring at a team meeting, detailing a potential large scale fraud. Yet, as I looked around, I was met with distracted nods or glances at wristwatches, amplifying my isolation.
It wasn't just the missing recognition. It was the sinking realization that the leadership simply didn't understand — or maybe, didn't want to understand — the intricacies of what I did. My daily battles, the complexity of the cases, the nuances of each investigation... all were lost on them.
The lack of budget. The absence of engineering support. And the dwindling influence with leadership were all clear signs of an uphill battle I couldn't get the support I needed - physical, financial, or technical.
I was struggling.
Everything changed for me when I started talking more about fraud and investigating less.
It seemed backwards. The more I talked about fraud — and the less I actually fought it — the faster my career grew.
I began attending more strategy meetings, speaking less about raw data and more about implications. The moment I transitioned from discussing transaction IDs to company bottom lines, I saw eyes light up. The less I dove into actual investigations and the more I talked strategy, the clearer my career path became.
I was deep in the complex world of fraud. I faced consistent resistance when trying to bring our leadership into this world. The complexity of fraud made it challenging for them to grasp the full scope, let alone the specific details.
It became clear - I couldn't forcibly drag them into my world.
I needed to align my fraud expertise with their broader strategic perspective. It was like playing a game, one that required both detailed insight and big-picture strategy.
Not only is fighting fraud a game. Navigating the business is a game.
Every organization, no matter its size or industry, has its internal dynamics and power plays. Understanding this landscape became crucial as I began to bridge the gap between fraud investigation and strategic insight. The complexities of fraud were one thing, but presenting them in a manner that resonated with various stakeholders, each with their own agendas and perspectives, was an entirely different challenge.
At one meeting, I was asked not about fraud patterns, but about market trends and customer behavior implications based on my findings. That's when it hit me:
I was turning into a business consultant who happened to know how to investigate.
Shifting from just investigating to vocalizing fraud's ripple effects, all while framing it within the context of our company's internal political landscape changed everything in my career trajectory. I learned to anticipate concerns, address potential reservations, and strategically position my insights to align with both the company's objectives and the nuanced motivations of its leadership.
It wasn't merely about unmasking discrepancies.
It was about understanding the strategic game, the landscape of the business, and the subtleties of company politics.
At a company event, a casual chat with a senior executive about departmental politics revealed more about our business direction than any all hands meeting. Understanding these nuances became as crucial as identifying a fraudulent pattern.
This alignment, this multifaceted approach to playing the game and navigating the business side of fraud, propelled my career growth at an unprecedented pace.
I didn't realize it yet, but I was uncovering the business of fighting fraud.
See you again next Friday in your inbox.
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