The Future of Fraud Investigations in Canada

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How do you get a room full of attorneys, accountants and auditors to definitively agree on something? As Henry Tso illustrated at the 2019 ACFE Fraud Conference Canada in Montreal, you ask them if they have ever been a victim of a fraud scam attempt. Tso, a former RCMP superintendent and officer in charge, asked more than 340 attendees to raise their hands if they had received a call from someone pretending to work for the Canadian Revenue Agency attempting to gain personal information. “I received a call two days ago from the CRA,” he said. “How many people received that call?” A flurry of hands went up without hesitation.

Tso has worked more than 25 years in money laundering and financial investigations. He currently works as the director of investigative and forensic services at MNP, an accounting, tax and business consulting firm. In addition to sharing lessons from his long career in both the public and private sectors, he also gave attendees specific instructions for tackling investigations in Canada. The most consistent advice he insisted on fraud examiners following was to get out of their siloed departments, organizations and regional jurisdictions.

“We always work alone, and I don’t know why,” he said. “Create a war room so you can exchange ideas to ensure you are on the right path … Almost 9 in 10 [people] speak to no one about a fraud attempt. The police don’t know, the Criminal Intelligence Service Canada (CISC) don’t know. We can’t get a good hand on fraud unless people open up and not work in silos … In law enforcement we don’t want to share intelligence, banks don’t want to share private information and corporations are scared about being sued. Have government stakeholders and tech companies collaborate and problem solve. Brainstorm together.”

He also highlighted the following ways to do kick-start this collaboration and growth:

  • Education: Create a solid fraud strategy, have robust anti-fraud policies and consistently assess your fraud risk. These should all be in your business model.

  • Engagement: Tso said that no matter what department or industry you are in, you need to work in support of whistleblower policies. “It has been so effective for us to work with a company and collect all of the whistleblower complaints.”

  • Enforcement: Civilians and victims should make sure to use all of the tools available to them like retaining a law firm to try to recover money. Tso said to make it hard for the people stealing. And even it they don’t take the case, they will still have it in their system for the future.

Tso began his presentation praising the work of anti-fraud professionals, and it is worth mentioning his sentiments. They summarize his message, and it is something we don’t say enough. “It takes patience, devotion, intelligence,” he said. “The key piece for a lot of people is you have to have passion … You may not feel like a hero, but what you do every day is making a huge difference.”