Fraud is Fraud – Language Does Not Matter


Fraud is Fraud

I had the pleasure of opening the Canadian LOMA (insurance) conference last week in Toronto, Ontario with a keynote address I designed on Investigative Intuition. What an honor and privilege it was for me to have been invited to come up from the States to do so.

As always, Canadian hospitality was in fine form and despite some minor travel challenges, which didn’t quite amount to “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” it was a rather uneventful trip.

While at the conference in Canada, I was also asked to present a second conference session on applying intuitive methodology to the tools we all use while handling claims and conducting fraud investigations.

After arriving at the airport in Toronto I was greeted both in English and French. In the taxi on the way to the hotel, I was greeted in both languages as I was when arriving at the beautiful Royal York hotel in downtown Toronto.

While watching television in my hotel room, the night before the presentation, I quickly noticed that about half the television programs were in English while the other half were also in French.

Although Canada and the United States are both neighboring North American countries, I quietly wondered whether my fraud presentation would translate well to the Canadian market given the language and cultural differences.

Certain Things Translate

Before I got a chance to find out about fraud’s universality, while eating dinner I had a delightful conversation about hockey in Canada with a couple of people headed to the Toronto Maple Leafs game. In Chicago, we speak “hockey” as the Blackhawks are a “Big 6” hockey club, one of the NHL’s original six franchises.

It turns out that the “language of hockey” translates well across international lines in countries that play the game. Hockey is hockey. Everyone’s concerned about their team’s ability to “put the puck in the back of the net.”

One of the people I was talking to asked me what I do? “I’m a fraud consultant.”

Frog? (Puzzled look!)


Frog? (Sound familiar?)

I spell it out. F-R-A-U-D, I say with heavy emphasis on the “D” at the end. I can’t tell you how many times that’s happened during my career. Almost daily when people ask what I do! Just like the ID Theft commercial. Obviously, we know how that came about!

Anyway, once we establish that I’m talking about the crime, and not the amphibian, the lady says “Oh, there’s no shortage of that!” Good sign, they understand fraud in Canada.

Universal Languages

In speaking with people at the conference about the business and information challenges they face, I quickly learned that their fraud problems are the same as anyone else’s around the globe. Like hockey, fraud, it turns out, is a “universal language.”

While we travel from one location to another, and people might speak a different language than ours, fraud translates the same everywhere you go. Some nefarious character is always trying to get something (money, revenue, data etc) from someone else that they are not entitled to.

The key theme: deceit. The losses are the same, the criminals are the same and businesses are concerned with the same things: detecting fraud early and preventing it from happening.

Prosecution May Not Be Prosecution

While the language of fraud translates well, the criteria to prosecute it may not as quite a few people told me about the challenges they have in Canada getting fraud cases prosecuted.

Part of that equation may not be a lack of understanding as to what fraud is, but the attitude that government’s have about it and how they elect to handle it (or not as the case may be).

I was able to reassure them that their issues aren’t unique in this area as it turns out that we have the same challenges. We have to professionally package our cases and include documentable evidence that makes prosecutors like the case, understand the crime and want to prosecute it. Some challenges are just universal.

Cultural Differences

Russia’s a perfect example of cultural differences with their attitude on computer crime and the individual responsibility contention (because companies don’t protect their computers better, it’s not our problem). I.e. Blame the victim.

That’s like saying, “if you’re walking down the street and you see someone’s door open, it’s okay to walk in and steal from them.” That makes no sense in ANY language.

One of the ladies I spoke with at the conference asked me about interviewing people from different nationalities.

The question was “how does intuition play out in interviews concerning the nuances associated with different nationalities, their body language and forms of non verbal communication?” i.e. How does that affect the “signs of deceit” and investigative intuition?

Investigative intuition is the same, that translates well but it’s all about cultural based interviewing techniques and understanding the people (nationalities) you’re interviewing because what something means in one country definitely MAY NOT mean that in another!

Human beings are human beings and they’re going to exhibit signs of non verbal communication, no matter what the nationality is. The trick is, understanding the culture and mannerisms of the people you’re interviewing.

The Bottom Line

While the languages spoken in foreign countries are not always the same, some things are just universal and fraud is one of them. The Canadians have the same concerns about fraud as everyone else does. They want to better detect, prevent and investigate it. They want to reduce losses, increase revenues and improve their ROI…the universal language of business.

The Canadians I met on Friday “get it.” No matter what language you speak or country you’re in, fraud is fraud. Thanks to everyone involved in putting the Canadian LOMA Conference together for the invitation! It was a fabulous experience which I enjoyed very much!