The investigators should also consider the best way to gather evidence – the use of computer assisted audit techniques, for example, is very common in fraud investigations. Gathering evidence 62
AAA Technical Articles In order to gather detailed evidence, the investigator must understand the specific type of fraud that has been carried out, and how the fraud has been committed. The evidence should be sufficient to ultimately prove the identity of the fraudster(s), the mechanics of the fraud scheme, and the amount of financial loss suffered. It is important that the investigating team is skilled in collecting evidence that can be used in a court case, and in keeping a clear chain of custody until the evidence is presented in court. If any evidence is inconclusive or there are gaps in the chain of custody, then the evidence may be challenged in court, or even become inadmissible. Investigators must be alert to documents being falsified, damaged or destroyed by the suspect(s). Evidence can be gathered using various techniques, such as: testing controls to gather evidence which identifies the weaknesses, which allowed the fraud to be perpetrated using analytical procedures to compare trends over time or to provide comparatives between different segments of the business applying computer assisted audit techniques, for example to identify the timing and location of relevant details being altered in the computer system discussions and interviews with employees substantive techniques such as reconciliations, cash counts and reviews of documentation. The ultimate goal of the forensic investigation team is to obtain a confession by the fraudster, if a fraud did actually occur. For this reason, the investigators are likely to avoid deliberately confronting the alleged fraudster(s) until they have gathered sufficient evidence to extract a confession. The interview with the suspect is a crucial part of evidence gathered during the investigation. Reporting The client will expect a report containing the findings of the investigation, including a summary of evidence and a conclusion as to the amount of loss suffered as a result of the fraud. The report will also discuss how the fraudster set up the fraud scheme, and which controls, if any, were circumvented. It is also likely that the investigative team will recommend improvements to controls within the organisation to prevent any similar frauds occurring in the future. Court proceedings The investigation is likely to lead to legal proceedings against the suspect, and members of the investigative team will probably be involved in any resultant court case. The evidence gathered during the investigation will be presented at court, and team members may be called to court to describe the evidence they have gathered and to explain how the suspect was identified. It is imperative that the members of the investigative team called to court can present their evidence clearly and professionally, as they may have to simplify complex accounting issues so that non-accountants involved in the court case can understand the evidence and its implications.
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- Fall '19