Fraud Busters (or Anti-Fraud Professionals) and Whistleblowers go together like Batman and Robin. But instead of fighting crime throughout the night, they act as the watchdogs of society every day.
Though they inhabit different sectors, the basis of the act always includes reporting corruption, fraud or other law-breaking activities. And though whistleblowing is generally morally correct (dependent on the motivations to do it), those who are brave enough to take the action are often penalized for stepping out against companies and corporations much bigger than themselves.
But without them, society would suffer.
Employee tipsters (whistleblowers) currently account for 42% of fraud schemes detected. This makes them the most effective source for detecting and preventing corporate fraud.
It’s that symbiotic relationship whistleblowers hold with anti-fraud professionals that keep the wheels of the world turning effectively – and legally.
Whistleblowers are easily understood to be people who see something wrong and report it, but the definition for anti-fraud professionals is much broader. While there are professional designations including Certified Fraud Examiners, any professionals who work in finances, law enforcement or loss prevention could all be considered part of the field.
“Anti-fraud professionals need the inside information that whistleblowers provide to conduct their work,” federal whistleblower and co-founder of the International Association of Whistleblowers (IAW), Michael McCray says. “Similar to how journalists need sources to write their stories, whistleblowers develop collaborative relationships with anti-fraud professionals and associations.”
Though they develop these relationships in an effort to help, many whistleblowers do suffer for what they report.
One of the greatest examples includes the Oscar-winning actor, Cliff Robertson, who was frozen out of Hollywood after exposing David Begelman, president of Columbia Pictures, in 1977. After he found that Begelman had forged his name on studio checks and embezzled more than $60,000 from the studio – Robertson was thanked by being blacklisted.
Years later, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners named the Sentinel Award in Robertson’s name for choosing truth over self and in 2021, co-founders of the International Association of Whistleblowers, McCray and Marcel Reid received the award.
“It was an honor to be recognized,” McCray says. “Especially for an award named in recognition of Cliff Robertson.”
Without Robertson, legal professionals likely never would have discovered the crime. But because of his bravery, Robertson suffered immensely.
It is for this reason whistleblowers and fraud busters need to co-exist in a way that aids one another. As people risk their livelihoods in an attempt to do the right thing, people in the anti-fraud sector rely on them to continue being effective in their work.
“There is not a whistleblower in every case,” McCray says. “but every anti-fraud professional wishes they had one.”
John Warren, Chief Strategy Officer of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, discusses the importance of International Fraud Awareness Week and explains how bystanders can get involved in the discussion.
The Whistleblower Summit and Film Festival (WSFF) stands behind International Fraud Awareness Week in its campaign to end fraud in all working environments, and this year will be the first whistleblower organization to support ACFE’s International Fraud Week in the history of the awareness week.