Uncovering and documenting facts in a fraud case is just the precursor to what may be the most important part of an investigation: producing a report that will stand up in court. Here’s what a fraud investigator will do to ensure that his or her report effectively supports your position.
To ensure evidence standards are met, fraud experts document their findings throughout an investigation. This means that they write a dated memorandum of every witness interview — as soon as possible after the interview. In general, such memoranda include the identities of the investigator and witness, the time and location of the interview, and any other relevant details.
Investigators prepare separate memos for each interview. Combining reports of several interviews into one narrative may seem like a good way to save time, but the convenience comes at a risk. With a combined document, an opposing attorney asking to see one interview can gain access to all interviews.
The expert’s opinion shouldn’t appear in any interview memo or final fraud report. These documents are intended to detail facts and only information relevant to the case at hand.
Effective, clear presentation is an important part of a good fraud report. Your report will contain a summary of basic issues and a list of witnesses and exhibits in chronological order. Reports 10 pages or longer should have an index listing evidence collected during the investigation, names of everyone involved and visual aids that help clarify the fraud.
Savvy investigators avoid question-and-answer formats. This approach enables defense attorneys to inquire why one question was asked but another wasn’t, or why a question was phrased in a certain way. Diversions like this can sidetrack a jury, drawing attention to how the investigation was conducted rather than the facts of the case.
The report’s language should be neither too casual nor overly formal, and facts and ideas should be clearly stated. Charts and diagrams can help clarify complex information or provide a guide to a circuitous money trail.
Quality pays off
In the end, fraud reports are as critical to the eventual conviction and punishment of perpetrators as are the investigations that identify them. If you require a fraud investigation, please contact us.