The Emotional Impact of Fraud Investigations
As a workplace investigator, every single case is unique. After all, each case
involves a different industry, different players, and, perhaps most importantly, different impacts. While it might be preferable to look at workplace investigations through a clinical lens, that simply isn’t possible. Every probe includes emotional aspects, and dealing with a client’s emotional needs are just as important as dealing with the simple facts of the case. This is never truer than in the case of fraud investigations.
While financial fraud isn’t uncommon, it is the type of investigation that is most dynamic and personal. Whether the client is a small-business owner, a chairman of the board of a non-profit organization, or a high-flying CEO, potential fraud within their ranks affects them the same way. Each potential victim of fraud is forced to go through a questioning period, where they mull over the emotional implications of the situation and blame themselves for not seeing what was happening.
The emotional impact of fraud investigations is significant because often the perpetrator of the fraud is a close confidant, a trusted business partner, and an all-around good guy. They hide so well in plain sight that their victims are blind-sided. The emotional implications are amplified when you consider that in most cases, the fraud is far more profound than the team expected when an initial problem was found.
So, what are workplace investigators to do? Do they treat the case through the lens of a clinical reporter, or do they step in and deal with the emotional upheaval that is unfolding before their eyes? When conducting fraud investigations, it is best to approach the process from a human, empathetic level before moving into the cold hard facts. Not only does this help the client feel more at ease, but it builds trust between the investigator and the client. A client who trusts their investigator is less likely to become defensive, and more likely to talk openly.
The first session shouldn't begin with paperwork and numbers. Instead, start with expressing concern and sorrow for the person in front of you They are likely emotionally fragile and looking to trust and connect with someone. At this point, you can begin asking necessary questions about the fraudster. After all, they know them best, and gauging the perpetrator and getting inside their psyche a bit can help you delve into the case.
Finding a dual personality in the perpetrator is not uncommon, and the client may express that, as well. They may speak highly of their work one moment, then remember something that seemed weird the next. Take notes as this is information you can use. While every workplace investigation is unique, they do share some common traits. Every person who hires a workplace investigator feels duped by the people they have trusted to come into their business. The job of an investigator is a lot easier if the emotional turmoil is addressed and acknowledged first.
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Cite this article: Lynch, N. (2017). The Emotional Impact of Fraud Investigations. https://www.lynchlf.com/blog/the-emotional-impact-of-fraud-investigations/