Ellie has been a trainee fraud investigator with Veritau for almost six months. After graduating with a degree in psychology, she was looking for a career that would challenge her. Training as an investigator keeps things interesting as every day is different, and she manages her own case load with a wide range of fraud types.
A normal day as a trainee will always be very different from the day before, and the day after. Each trainee manages a caseload of around 15 cases, depending on experience, which rises to 25 upon qualifying as a fraud investigator. The trainee programme takes two years and includes completing the Professional Accredited Counter Fraud Specialist qualification. There are four modules in which trainees learn everything from how fraud can affect organisations to how to take a case to court and be cross-examined by a barrister. Prosecutions aren’t the outcome of every case, but investigators need to be prepared.
The fraud team works for six client councils, investigating 10 different types of fraud, gathering information from many sources including relevant council systems, each used by their department staff in subtly different ways. Trainees need to quickly generate a comprehensive working knowledge of a rather complex area of local government and legislation, understanding the challenges facing departments. Each trainee is assigned to a senior fraud investigator from their first day at Veritau, who works closely with them throughout their time on the training programme.
Ellie’s favourite part of the job is the variety of tasks; trainees can be involved with every stage of an investigation, from doing initial checks on a case to preparing it for prosecution. An average day may begin with a simple referral assigned to Ellie, alleging that a property with Single Person Discount applied actually has two adults living there. Trainees are encouraged to adopt their own style of investigation, supported by managers, to develop their confidence and skills. Ellie may check council systems, talk to employers, request information from businesses and check online sources, to gather evidence to show whether or not the allegation may be true. If enough information is gathered, she may conduct a visit to the property, accompanied by a senior officer, or invite the claimant to an interview under caution.
Obviously an investigation like this cannot all be achieved in a day, but the trainee programme encourages investigators to learn to adapt to different circumstances and understand different areas of fraud in their entirety to deliver coherent, decisive and fair action. Trainees are trusted with a lot of responsibility, but work closely with their senior officer and are supported by the whole fraud team.