What is a clandestine investigation and why is it  important in proving a crime?

 

A clandestine investigation is conducted in complete secrecy  without anyone ever knowing it occurred. We approach each case in the same manner and use the exact same procedures & methodology used in our service to the Nation. What is the importance of a clandestine investigation? Quite simply, to protect the company's interests. Investigations of serious frauds or accounting irregularities within a company can be disruptive and time consuming.  Most corporations do not have the resources readily available to support a comprehensive investigative response. Apollo Limited an deploy experienced, independent and highly credentialed investigative accountants to fully substantiate an existing or suspected fraud and resolve the matter quickly and efficiently. It is easy for an untrained person to misconstrue events and make the wrong conclusion, which the company could be held liable for if information is not well contained.  Even the most seasoned accountant can easily see fraud where none exists, and vice versa.  It takes specialized training and years of experience to make that determination with any certainty. The worst thing an employer can do is accuse an employee of wrongdoing only to find out later they were mistaken.  There is no undoing the level of betrayal and psychological  damage that inflicts upon a loyal employee. At that point the  relationship  is over, and worse,   it could mean a defamation lawsuit if the suspicion was shared to others prematurely.  By hiring a clandestine investigator, an employer will  be given  reasonable assurance a crime has indeed taken place and  provided hard evidence that supports  such allegations. Such undeniable proof should be reference when confronting an  employee and a definite requirement to file complaints with local and federal   authorities.   Without such evidence Insurance carriers  will not even   consider paying a theft claim.  With someone's reputation on the line, and that of the company, it is not a   time to act on a hunch-- you must be certain.  Ideally our trained specialist will work  closely with the suspected fraudster, posing as a temporary employee, a new-hire "trainee" or even a regular auditor visiting for some other reason that may need  to consult with the suspect.  This allows the investigator to observe, interact and gain  first-hand knowledge in order  to build a psychological profile that will support the allegations or absolve the suspect.

 Can ApolloLTD prove embezzlement and supply court admissible evidence?

  

If a crime occurred, we can prove it. In the 21st century there is no way to evade detection. It just takes time and the knowledge of where to look and what to look for.   Even when it involves  cash, which is the most difficult financial theft to prove and document. Very few people appropriate cash just to stuff in their mattresses. They spend it, deposit it, or otherwise circulate it.  When they do, it  can be documented. Living beyond one's means is the most common mistake a criminal makes.  Most believe they have everyone fooled, or no one is paying attention, or perhaps they think they can easily explain it away. But with access to IRS, FinCEN and other federal databases, we can paint a clear picture and establish a timeline of events that support theft.  So if John Doe shows up to work, in a new Corvette, but has not earned a major pay increase, won the lottery or found a diamond mine under his root cellar,  it's a good sign  something is  amiss.  By using these databases, we can rule out all  legitimate methods that person could have had a sudden windfall and there are many reasons one could.   It's important that no matter how many signs point to misappropriation, things are not always as one believes. Making a snap judgement without having all the facts can cost a company dearly, so until proof is given, say nothing. 

"If it walks like a duck..."

Case in point:  The  fifty-something  phenomenon.     Your co-worker has complained about his job for as long as you can remember. You have even agreed with him on occasion that "you don't get paid enough for the workload they pile on you".   Since you both make the exact same salary, you know how challenging it can be and forgive his occasional rant. 

 

Suddenly, almost over night,  his attitude has changed and Mr. Grump is now Mr. Personality. He is smiling, laughing, and enjoying life. While you are genuinely happy to see this attitude adjustment, you can't help but wonder what evoked such a drastic turnaround.  Then you overhear him speaking to another co-worker about the new sporty convertible he just purchased and how much more enjoyable the long commute is.  How could he possibly buy a new sports car when you can barely make the payments on your used economy model? Beyond the overwhelming jealousy, something doesn't feel right about all this.  Over the next week you spot him planning trips and making online purchases. Then it happens-- you peak over the cubicle and see him transferring funds  from one bank account to another... and it suddenly dawns on you... he is embezzling funds from the corporate bank accounts!  The fact it is his  job as an asset manager to make transfers seems inconsequential at the time. In fact, it lends credibility to the plot--no one would ever question his online activity since he has full access to the bank accounts.  He certainly has the brains to pull it off, and he's been around long enough to have learned a trick or two over the years. You've made up your mind, it is so obvious now -- he is an embezzler!!!

 

You rush to tell your supervisor or perhaps you go straight to the authorities... because, after all, it is your duty to report him (and he shouldn't have luxuries when you can't). Either way, in your mind you are a hero and will probably get a promotion out of it, or at least a nice raise.  Your feelings of guilt for ratting-out your co-worker will subside eventually because you know you have done the right thing. Right? 

 

Not in the least. An emotion as impaired your judgement. In this case, jealousy. He's doing all the things you wish you could do and the little green monster on your shoulder  is driving your desire to knock him back down a peg or two. It has nothing to do with justice and there is no evidence whatsoever supporting your claim.  Buying a car and being happy are not crimes. 

 

The fact is, as employees reach their late 40's and 50's  they will inevitably experience the loss of a parent or other loved one.  It is customary for children to inherit the estate and insurance benefits. This usually happens with very little acknowledgement to anyone.  Your co-worker may not seem like he is grieving a loss, and truth-be-known, he was never too fond of his recently departed father-in-law, but with his wife being the only child and sole heir, he is growing fonder of him, posthumously. 

 

You made a critical mistake, and if taken too far, an irreversible one.   So, just because Joe has been seen cruising around in a new Corvette or Jane is carrying the latest Gucci handbag, don't assume the worst. It's human nature to see the worst in people when jealousy is involved. You owe it to yourself and your co-worker to talk it over. Ask questions in a non-accusatory, friendly manner before voicing your suspicions--you may be surprised what you learn.  Sadly, it is often easier to think the worst of people than giving them the benefit of the doubt. 

 

Investigators interview dozens of people who are "in the know",  so why shouldn't you? Never spread unsubstantiated rumors, no matter how juicy the gossip is, or how badly you need to tell someone. Put yourself in their shoes and detach any emotion you may have. If you don't, it will most likely cost you your job, and if not careful, you could find yourself on the bad side of a defamation lawsuit. 

 

It is hard to believe, but sometimes when it walks like duck and quacks like a duck, it actually turns out to be a goose. Do not jump to conclusions.  All people, no matter how much they irritate you,  are innocent until proven guilty. 

There are  more than a dozen classic scenarios an employee can use to defraud a company of its assets and new methods are devised every year. But the technology these thieves believe makes it so easy to get away with is the same technology used to bring them to justice. The bottom line: there is no sure way to get away with a financial crime in the 21st Century. Paper trails have been replaced with virtual ones, and they can't be shredded, burnt, or otherwise destroyed. It is saved in a database and one's belief that deleting something from a computer is all it takes, it's not. More cloud storage providers are implementing indefinite file retention, as are email providers and phone service providers. While deleted files may be lost to the owner forever, The Justice Department can still retrieve them. 

The nuances of Financial Crimes are often difficult to spot using standard detection techniques. Advanced practices and methodologies established by the United States Treasury's Financial Crime Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the  Secret Service, and FBI investigators, have enhanced and broadened the skill set of field agents. Apollo Limited's Specialized Skills Officers have that training and more important, years of practical experience.  Many of our contractors are still associated with their respective federal agencies and carry active credentials.  No investigator is more qualified in detecting financial fraud, outside the crime enforcement network, than Apollo Limited's investigators. 

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Forensic Accounting Skills whitepaper.PN

Forensic Accounting Skills and Techniques in Fraud Investigation in teh Nigerian Public Sector: white paper by D.O. Gbegi and Dr. J.F. Adebisi

(c)Copyright 2019 Bruce W Tucker, Director, Tucker Global Initiatives.