In recent years, the FBI has increased its focus on investigating financial crimes. These crimes, which can include insider trading, corruption and creating off-books accounting schemes, cause significant damage to individuals and to the U.S. economy as a whole.
Earning a certificate that qualifies you to investigate financial crime (click here to explore programs) is a great way to enter the field. In some cases, universities create programs that enable you to earn a certificate and also apply your certificate coursework toward a degree in financial crimes investigation. Three of these certifications include the Certified Financial Crime Specialist (CFCS), Certified Financial Crime Investigator (CFCI) and Certified Fraud Examiner. In addition, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) operates its Financial Fraud Institute to enable current government employees to learn how to solve financial crimes.
Earning a CFCS can provide graduates with a competitive edge in the job market. To earn the certification, you must do the following:
- Register with the Association of Certified Financial Crime Specialists (ACFCS). After registration, you’ll have two years to compile your application and pass the CFCS exam.
- Provide proof of qualifications. Candidates can combine a mix of training, education and job experience to demonstrate proof of qualifications to earn a minimum of 40 credits. You could earn a maximum of 20 job experience credits, 25 training credits and 15 education credits. Only training completed within the past three years is considered for the CFCS.
- Professional references. You should provide two professional references and their contact information.
- Take the exam. The exam will cover questions about compliance, investigation, corruption, data security, ethics, international standards, tax evasion and money laundering. Once approved to take the exam, you’ll receive an ACFCS preparation booklet. You can also take classes, both live and online, that can prepare them for the test.
The International Association of Financial Crime Investigators (IAFCI) provides the CFCI credential to IAFCI members who have at least three years of experience working in an area directly related to financial crimes.
You should also be employed in financial crime investigation at the time of the exam. Candidates can take the exam online. Once you pass your exam, the CFCI certification remains valid for three years before you have to recertify.
The CFE is offered by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE). It’s considered the flagship credential for financial crimes investigation. In fact, the FBI has named CFE as one of its critical desirable skills. According to AFCE, the CFE credential can provide up to a 25 percent salary boost. To earn a CFE, follow these steps:
- Become an associate member of ACFE. Associate membership is open to anyone in any industry who has an interest in the detection and deterrence of fraud.
- Submit an application. The application should contain three letters of recommendation using the ACFE form and proof that you’ve completed a bachelor’s degree. You should also apply for the CFE exam and pay the fee. You can do this online or through the mail.
- Pass the CFE exam. You can study with the association’s free exam prep course, take an exam review class or study on your own using the “Fraud Examiner’s Manual.”
- Earn final approval. After passing the exam, CFE candidates must earn final approval from the AFCE certification committee. They must also pay dues to become full ACFE members.
Financial Fraud Institute
For people already working in federal law enforcement, the Financial Fraud Institute, part of the DHS Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC) network, offers training programs including Economic Crimes and Investigation Analysis, International Banking and Money Laundering and Internet Investigation. The institute also offers training in how to uncover grant fraud, procurement fraud, and product substitution.
According to the FBI’s “State of Financial Crime” report, some of the fastest growing areas of financial crime include corporate, securities, healthcare, mortgage, insurance and financial institution fraud. Solving financial crimes prevents serious harm both to consumers and to the economy as a whole. You might not be able to catch every criminal, but you’ll catch some of them. In the process, you’ll protect future victims from harm and get justice for those who’ve suffered losses because of financial crime.