Fraud is a serious crime that can have far-reaching consequences, both for victims and perpetrators. Law enforcement agencies are tasked with the responsibility of investigating and prosecuting fraud cases. This article provides a comprehensive guide to the process of investigating fraud crimes, from filing an online crime complaint to developing a comprehensive approach to analyzing financial, commercial and electronic records. When it comes to investigating fraud, the first step is to file an online crime complaint with federal law enforcement. This is done through the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or the United States Secret Service (USSS).
The USSS is responsible for detecting, investigating and arresting anyone who violates certain laws related to financial systems. The teams investigate and help federal and local law enforcement agencies investigate criminal activities related to fraud and identity theft, while providing victims with available resources to prevent further victimization. Health care fraud is another type of fraud that law enforcement agencies must be prepared to investigate. This type of fraud can be committed by medical providers, patients, and others who intentionally mislead the healthcare system into receiving illegal benefits or payments. The USSS also has Cyber Fraud Working Groups (CFTF) that aim to prevent, detect and mitigate complex financial crimes caused by cybersecurity, with the ultimate goal of arresting and convicting the most harmful perpetrators. The FBI also works with private sector partners and other law enforcement agencies at all levels to investigate cases involving digital assets, such as various fraud schemes and the use of ransomware.
Embezzlement and misapplication of funds are two common crimes of fraud by financial institutions in FBI investigations. The Michigan State Police Fraud Investigation Section is comprised of two teams (east and west) that cover the state of Michigan. This section is responsible for managing the communication flow and distributing information between internal and external stakeholders during the investigation. To investigate and help prevent fraudulent activities in financial markets, the Office works closely with several government and private organizations to investigate fraud involving securities and commodities. The research team must develop a comprehensive approach to analyzing financial, commercial and electronic records applicable to fraud investigation. This includes gathering evidence from various sources such as bank records, emails, phone records, etc., as well as interviewing witnesses and suspects. The team must also be prepared to use sophisticated technology such as data mining software to uncover hidden patterns in large datasets. Being prepared in the event of a fraud report will go a long way towards avoiding potential risks and even preventing fraud in the future.
By partnering with private industry, state, local, tribal and territorial (SLTT) and federal law enforcement agencies, federal and state prosecutors, and the academic world, CFTFs effectively harness the collective expertise of a range of key stakeholders needed to combat cybercrime.