Working as a Certified Fraud Examiner 101

The UK loses around £66 billion every year to fraud, the BBC World Service reports. But what exactly is fraud and what are we doing about it?

Well, fraud is identified as the deliberate deception of one of more individuals where the perpetrator gains what is not rightfully theirs – depriving the victim in an unlawful way.

Due to its significant impact on the country, England introduced a Fraud Act that came into effect in 2007. It gives fraud its statutory definition and separates it into three classes:

  • Fraud by false representation
  • Fraud by failing to disclose certain information
  • Fraud by abuse position

There’s no denying the significant increase in fraud cases since the beginning of the technology age, which is why fraud investigators play a bigger role than ever in every company’s well-functioning in this day and age.

Let’s take a look at what working as a certified fraud examiner is really like. For those considering it as a career, here are the main steps you need to take; the required education and training, as well as how to get your certificate.


Getting Started in the Fraud Investigation Business

What is Fraud Investigation?
Why are Companies looking for Fraud Investigators?
Taking Training and Courses to Become a Fraud Investigator
How to get your CFE Certification

The Ins and Outs of working as a certified Fraud Examiner

Finding Jobs
Preparing your Resume
Selling Yourself

What Skill Set is Needed for your Job?
A Certified Fraud Examiner's salary

Getting started in the fraud investigation business

The past few years have been a real treat for people wanting to work in the fraud investigation business. Careers in the industry are abundant, and most likely will be for years to come, because – as specialists put it – fraud is continuously evolving.

Fraudulent operators will always find new ways of appropriating money and information, particularly in the digital age that we are now living in.

What is Fraud Investigation?

Fraud investigation is the method used to resolve fraud allegation, looking at everything from the inception to the deposition. Allegations can be made when something deceptive has happened, whether inside a company or on an individual level.

For instance, an allegation can be made when a company suffers a major collapse or when there are signs an individual has made off with its funds.

Fraud on a more individual basis sees certain people finding unlawful ways to convince others to give them money, perhaps done under false pretences or impersonating somebody else, similar to this Perry Hay & Co case and this entire list of British frauds.

When it comes to public authorities, the Department for Work and Pensions, local law enforcement officers, and HM Revenue and Customs all have the authority to conduct investigations to prevent or to detect fraud.

This means that, in the course of an investigation, not only do they have the choice to share information with you or not, they also have legal access to your house and your business offices should they feel the need to visit them.

As far as the fraud investigation process goes, here are the four basic steps it follows.

  • Identifying the type of fraud – There are so many types of fraud committed every single day, and on top of that, new ways are being invented all the time – all working off details and niches of everyday life you wouldn’t even believe.

Fraud investigators need to figure out what kind of fraud they are dealing with to ensure they find the right contact to help them along the way.

  • Creating the investigative plan – Although often overlooked, this is a crucial part of fraud investigation. Indeed, it does take time, but it’s what will help keep the investigator focused and organised on the case they are working on.

It’s far easier to organise the events in a chronological order and identify any inconsistencies in the stories, all helping to find out who the fraudster was, along with any personal and important details to the case.

  • Interviewing and re-interviewing the victim – A key element in any fraud investigation is getting to know the victim as well as possible. This is done by interviewing the victim in a quiet, safe place like the victim’s home or a police station.

The examiner will first ask an open-ended question to give them a chance of telling his or her story, and will re-interview them at any chance he can get to ensure as many details have been uncovered as possible and to determine the legitimacy of the allegation.

  • Securing the evidence – Depending on the case they are pursuing, fraud investigators need to make sure that they get a hold of emails, bank accounts, credit statements, phone records, social media posts, and everything in between. Nowadays, because crimes are mostly committed digitally, evidence is virtual and can be obtained electronically, which is both positive and negative.

Whilst virtual files are a lot easier and faster to deal with than hard-copy ones, gaining access can be a problem. For example, banks may deny you further access due to a hacked, changed or forgotten password which is frustrating and only stalls the investigation – this is why securing the evidence is so crucial. Once the investigator has it, he must analyse, document and secure it in a preferred storage space.

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Why are Companies Looking for Fraud Investigators?

The golden age of the fraud investigator began with the great recession in past years, where the economy was bad and the unemployment percentage was on the rise. For these reasons, a huge increase in fraud levels was expected; specifically fraud committed by employees. A higher level of fraud means more jobs for the examiners.

Companies were beginning to become particularly vulnerable to fraud, especially those that suffered from the recession and a consequential cut back of employees.That’s when the everlasting trend of companies turning to certified fraud examiners began – not only to help them solve fraud cases, but also to prevent them.

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Taking Training and Courses to Become a Fraud Investigator

In terms of education needed to become a fraud examiner, there are a number of specialised trainings and courses out there. Whilst a bachelor’s degree or any form of higher education is always welcome, finishing college isn’t a necessity.

Focus Training & Solutions is one of UK’s top providers when it comes to training fraud investigators. We offer specialised courses in the following areas:

  • Fraud courses – one example being ‘Telephone Interview – Fraud Awareness’, a 2-day course on Fraud Investigative Interviewing, Fraud Investigation Techniques, Accredited Counter Fraud Specialist, and another 2-day course on Presenting Investigation Findings.
  • Intelligence Courses – these will teach you how to gather, use, and analyse both criminal and corporate intelligence.
  • Investigation Courses – these also come with distance learning module and an online exam.
  • Telecoms Fraud Qualification Courses – Foundation Level Telecommunications Fraud & RA, IQ Accredited Level 2 Award in Telecommunications Fraud (IQTF), Basic Investigation Skills, and Distance Learning Telecom Fraud and RA Management.
  • One day courses

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How to get your CFE Certification

After completing our trainings and courses, and becoming a specialised fraud examiner, you can also get your CFE certification issued by the ACFE (Association of Certified Fraud Examiners).

To apply, you must have completed these courses or have at least two years of job experience. You will then need to provide proof of your moral character; the ACFE will ask for references about your personality before issuing you the certificate.

You must also adhere to their code of ethics that states, amongst other things, that you must:

  • commit to professionalism;
  • be diligent in your duties;
  • not engage in illegal activities or that may lead to a conflict of interest;
  • show integrity;
  • when you give your opinion, always base it on hard evidence;
  • never withhold any materials you might have discovered during your investigation.

You will also need to sit through an exam. It comprises of 500 questions, divided into four sections: Fraud Examination and Investigation, Criminology and Ethics, Financial Transactions, and Legal Elements of Fraud

With every question having a limited answering time of 75 seconds, you’ll understand why it’s so important to take the courses and trainings before applying.

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The Ins and Outs of Working as a Certified Fraud Examiner

Since we have established what fraud investigation is, how it is conducted, and how you can become a fraud examiner, let’s take a look at what being an investigator really means.

Finding Jobs

One great way of finding jobs as a certified fraud examiner is by going to the Jobs section of the AFCE UK’s website. They have a service where they keep in touch with companies, helping to find the perfect fraud examiner for them.

Other than that, there are a number of specialised job search sites that you can visit, such as:

Preparing Your Resume

Even if fraud investigators are in high demand, you still want to make sure that you are fully prepared and stand out to potential employers with an updated resume. Here’s how to do it…

  • Place your name, contact details, and education background at the top of the resume, next to your name. You need to let them know right off the bat who you are and what exactly it is you can do as a CFE.
  • When it comes to applying for a job as a CFE, you need to create a new CV for every time you apply – each company is different, which means every fraud case you will have to handle will be different. If you’ve got experience as an investigator, show of the cases you’ve dealt with so far that will be of interest to the company; if you’re a beginning, show them you know their field and line of work very well.
  • As far as length goes, don’t go over two pages. Focus on key points only – there’s no need for unnecessary details. Remember this is your only shot to make them notice you, so keep it short, clear, and attractive.
  • Out of your entire experience, put the most relevant cases at the top. Describe some of your duties as well as achievements. Less important jobs you had should be bulleted down the page, spared of tiring details; keep in mind you can always mention them at the interview.
  • Never lie on your resume. Indeed, this is a piece of advice everyone should follow, but it’s all the more important for a fraud examiner. An investigator must be entirely honest, hence the necessity of proof of moral character to achieve your certification.
  • Apply to jobs where you meet and/or exceed all the job requirements listed on the ad. If you lack in experience, education or certain skills, it’s not a good idea to apply.
  • In terms of the technical details of your resume, follow these tips:
  • Keep the design clean and crisp, because it will attract attention
  • Use real numbers with your achievements, so you can easily convince them of your accomplishments
  • Never use jargon, not even your own. There have been cases where people were not hired because they called themselves “risk investigators” - they were really “fraud investigators”, but were overlooked as not being what the company was looking for
  • Include a personalised cover letter of two or three paragraphs, detailing why you want to work in the company and why you think you are the best person for the job

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Selling Yourself

Interviews can be daunting, but follow these few tips and you might just be able to confidently secure the job you’re after.

  • Study the company’s website, LinkedIn profile, Facebook, and Twitter account activity. You can also read its press releases as well as what’s been written in the news about it.
  • Research your position as well – this will show the interviewer that you are pro-active and truly interested in the job.
  • Ask as many questions as you want, but make sure they are intelligent ones. This is a simple way of finding out new information on the position and the company, and gives you a chance to work your knowledge into conversation, impressing the employer with everything you know.
  • Be careful how you dress. Take a good look at pictures posted on the company’s website and Facebook account so you can find out how they dress and match your attire accordingly.
  • Ask a friend to do a rehearsal interview with you the night before so you can get an idea of what it feels like being there on the day.
  • Be careful about your body language; it says a lot about you. If you know you don’t usually behave in a professional way, try to control your gestures and face movements as much as possible. Sit still and relaxed, don’t wave your hands around, and make sure to smile as much as you can.
  • The discussion itself should be led by the interviewer - let him or her take the lead and give you cue when to add something. Remember you have a limited amount of time, so don’t dawdle on one question.

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What Skill Set is Needed for this Job?

If you are looking for a successful career as a fraud investigator, there are some qualities and skills that you should possess or develop on. Those include:

  • Critical thinking – you should be able to use your logic and reason to assess how weak or strong certain alternatives, approaches, or conclusions are.
  • Complex problem solving – you will often have to deal with complex problems, meaning you will need to find optimum solutions.
  • Social perceptiveness – on the psychological part, you need to be able to record other people’s reactions and correctly judge why they react the way they do.
  • Mathematics - you will have to use it, as your line of business is financial.
  • Being service orientated – your job is to serve people and your behaviour needs to prove that.
  • Negotiation – exactly as it sounds, you need to bring two or more parties together and try to reconcile their differences.

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A Certified Fraud Examiner's Salary


Fraud investigators usually have high salaries – it is a well-paid job which is one of the reasons it’s so sought after. We had a look at the numbers and found out the following average sums, which you’ll see vary according to different criteria.

  • A certified fraud examiner earns approximately £65,000 a year;
  • Fraud investigators without a certificate earn approximately £53,000 per annum;
  • Those with trainings and courses have a higher salary than the rest, at around £65,000;
  • Examiners that also have a bachelor degree earn around £67,000;
  • Those that have at least two or three years of experience earn £46,000;
  • Investigators that have 5 to 9 years of experience earn an average of £50,000;
  • Women CFEs are paid less than their male counterparts, earning around £58,000, while men in the exact same position earn £67,000.

Fraud investigations are a real and serious problem that we are faced with every day, and require a lot of skills to deal with them. A certified fraud examiner is a professional who seeks to solve these problems with the ultimate aim being to find the perpetrator guilty, and return assets and money to their rightful owners.

If found guilty of fraud in the UK, a person can be fined or subjected to 12 months in prison on summary conviction. If it’s an indictment, he or she faces a fine or up to 10 years in prison.

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