Fraud and financial crime investigation: Online format meets national need

We’ve probably all had them: the automated phone calls or emails telling us our credit card has been suspended, or the voice alerting us to an urgent tax problem. Often coming in at disorienting hours, these fraudsters can confuse people enough that they let their guard down and become the victims of financial crime.

Such crimes are only one face of the growing threats we face as our financial systems become completely reliant on technology. Statistics Canada shows the rate of police-reported fraud has jumped for the seventh consecutive year, increasing 12% in 2018.

We sat down with Steve Wilson from BCIT Forensics, who leads the Graduate Certificate in Fraud and Financial Crime. This part-time, five-course program is now being offered both in-person or online. Steve told us more about why the program has opted for an online option, and what kinds of people are interested in this intriguing career.

Q: What kind of people are interested in this program?

A: We’re seeing a lot of interest from those already in, or hoping to move into, policing and public safety, financial services, insurance, accounting, and law. Individuals are often attracted to this area because it offers a fascinating and rewarding investigative career.

Q: Where have you seen a need for this curriculum beyond BC?

A: This program is unique in the Canadian landscape right now. I was in Toronto earlier this year, where I spoke to hundreds of people working in law enforcement, government agencies, and other public and private stakeholders who are working to combat financial crime. I learned that there’s a real need to formalize training and give people a chance to study new tools and techniques. This part-time, five-course program is now also being offered both in-person or online.

Police-reported fraud jumped for the seventh consecutive year, increasing 12% in 2018 – Statistics Canada

 Q: So, are your students generally already working?

A: Yes, most of them have jobs in investigative roles already, or they have other jobs and are looking to retrain for a new career. The part-time program enables them to learn while working, and they can complete the program over the course of a year.

Q: How can financial investigators keep up with so many new scams?

A: Economic crime is changing at a phenomenal pace, and fraudsters are always finding new ways to exploit technology to target their victims. The first step is to build fraud awareness and thus prevent many crimes.

But the best tools and techniques for solving these crimes are also becoming ever more sophisticated, and that’s a focus for this program. Basic investigation skills are no longer enough. To thrive in this field, you need to be able to draw on the latest in data analytics, digital forensics, and to always be on the watch for new developments. It’s about developing a “lifelong learning” mindset.

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Q: Any other advice for those considering a career in this area?

A: As President of the Vancouver Chapter of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), I highly recommend getting connected to others in the field, finding out more about what kind of work they do. It’s a job that continues to change, and I believe it’s through breaking down silos and working together we can really make a difference.

Note to media: Steve Wilson is available to speak on topics related to financial crime, cybercrime, digital forensics. Please contact Amy Chen, 778-384-7245.

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