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Faces of Fraud: Cases and Lessons from a Life Fighting Fraudsters by Martin T. Biegelman

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Chapter 5

Patience Is a Virtue

Patience is an important virtue for fraud investigators. Fraud is often hard to uncover and can lie hidden for months or years before being discovered. During that time, fraud is like an infection eating away undetected until the pain is finally felt, but even then the financial and emotional impact continues. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners' 2012 Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse found that frauds lasted a median of 18 months before being detected. The Report to the Nations also found that fraud is more likely to be detected by a tip than any other method. While it is evident that detecting and stopping fraud as early as possible is best, it is not always the case. A fraud scheme I investigated, beginning in 1979, reinforces the importance of patience and the value of tips.

Stopping a Fraud Scheme

In the spring of 1979, I was assigned to the Westbury, New York, office of the Postal accepting responsibility for their criminalInspection Service. I was given a miscellaneous territory assignment, responsible for postal and mail-related criminal investigations on Long Island, New York. A miscellaneous territory assignment gave me exposure to a wide variety of federal criminal violations including mail fraud, mail theft, embezzlement, robberies, burglaries, assaults, and forgery of Postal Money Orders. This last violation would be the basis for a very unique investigation I would soon conduct.

One day our administrative ...

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