Fraud Tip Friday: Interviewing and Factual Analysis

I have been trained in profiling, deceptive behavior, factual analysis, interviewing, and interrogation.  I was asked the other day about interviewing and factual analysis. Below is a great overview from Reid.

Both an interview as well as an interrogation are facilitated by analysis of investigative findings. Proper factual analysis assists the investigator in the following ways:

  • Eliminate improbable suspect
  • Develop possible suspects or leads
  • Increase confidence in identifying truthful or guilty suspects through the interview process
  • Identify proper interrogational strategies

From the nature of a crime the investigator may be able to speculate about the gender and age of the offender, whether or not the victim knew the offender, the motivation for the crime, and whether or not the crime was premeditated or spontaneous. For example, in an employee theft case, through analysis of opportunity, access, motivation, tenure, and disgruntlement, the investigator can frequently narrow down a large group of employees with opportunity or access to the stolen money or merchandise to a few employees who are much more likely to be guilty.

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In recent years much has been written about “criminal profiling” and it is appropriate here to differentiate between profiling a crime scene, and applying factual analysis to the investigative process. Criminal profiling purports to identify characteristics about the type of person who would commit the crime based on analysis of the crime scene. This is a deductive procedure that makes general inferences from specific observations. Criminal profiling is a guide to locate possible suspects.

Factual analysis, on the other hand, is an inductive approach where by each individual suspect is evaluated with respect to specific observations relating to the crime. Consequently, factual analysis relies not only on crime scene analysis, but also on information learned about each suspect. For example, if the crime under investigation appeared to be spontaneous and motivated by a real and immediate need, each suspect would be evaluated with respect to their personality (to evaluate impulsive behavior) and their motives (to evaluate the extent of immediate needs). Applying factual analysis, therefore, results in establishing an estimate of a particular suspect’s probable guilt or innocence based on such things as the suspect’s bio-social status (gender, occupation, marital status, etc.), opportunity and access to commit the crime, their behavior before and after the crime, their motivations and propensity to commit the crime, and evaluation of physical and circumstantial evidence.

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One of the key functions of factual analysis during an investigation is to establish an initial expectancy of a suspect’s guilt or innocence, which tends to increase the confidence and accuracy in rendering an opinion of the suspect’s probable involvement in a crime, once that suspect is interviewed. As an example, if a suspect was determined through factual analysis to be probably innocent of an offense, and also exhibited typical truthful behavior during an interview, then the investigator has two sources of information upon which to base a truthful opinion (factual analysis and behavior analysis). Statistically, this has the effect of increasing the confidence of a decision beyond the accuracy of either independent evaluation taken alone. On the other hand, if this same suspect (who was considered as probably truthful based on factual analysis) did not exhibit clear indications of truthfulness during a Behavior Analysis Interview, the investigator would be cautious in eliminating the individual from suspicion. This check and balance system serves as a safeguard from mistakenly believing that a guilty suspect is innocent, or conversely, that an innocent suspect is guilty.

Factual analysis, therefore serves not only as a means to efficiently sort through and classify a large group of suspects, but also as a quality control procedure for investigators in that it requires consistency within independent evaluations. When both assessments are consistent, the investigator can have a great deal of confidence in either eliminating a suspect from suspicion, or considering a suspect as more likely to be involved in the criminal behavior.

Finally, factual analysis frequently will identify characteristics about the suspect and the crime which will be helpful during an interrogation of the suspect believed to be guilty. Examples of some of these assessments include the probable motivation for committing the crime, whether or not the crime was spontaneous or premeditated, and whether or not the suspect acted alone or in concert with others.

Through factual analysis the suspect’s personality type can also be evaluated, which will often suggest particular interrogational strategies that may be effective, and other strategies which should be avoided.

Closing

Interviewing is an art. You do not become an expert overnight. You do not become an expert because you take a class. You become an expert by doing your homework, preparing, and then doing interview after interview after interview. The more you interview, the better you get at it.

If you want to learn more about Reid, kindly go the their website. I highly recommend the four day training. The ACFE also has some great information and training.

Your comments thoughts and suggestions are welcome and appreciated.

Best,

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Jonathan

Jonathan T. Marks, CPA, CFF, CFE