Career in Financial Crime Fighting

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A Growing Part of the Law Enforcement Community – Is a Career in Financial Crime Fighting Right for You?

It is no secret that financial crime has been on the rise. From the well-known Ponzi scheme orchestrated and executed by Bernard Madoff, to countless smaller scale cyber attacks and identity thefts, the bad guys are increasingly going online in search of victims.

The Australian Crime Commission conservatively estimates that serious and organised crime costs Australia $15 billion every year. This cost comprises loss of business and taxation revenues, expenditure on law enforcement and regulatory efforts, and social and community impacts of crime.

Law enforcement has taken notice, and the field of financial crime fighting has been growing as well. In addition to dedicated law enforcement and government personnel fighting financial crime, private companies are also hiring professionals to detect and prevent break-ins to their networks. If you have an interest in law enforcement and fighting crime and a high degree of tech savvy, a career in financial crime detection and prevention could be the right choice for you.

People who work in the field of financial crime prevention take on a number of different roles and work for a wide variety of governmental agencies, public institutes and private companies. An IT expert with advanced training in cybersecurity may be employed by a Fortune 500 company to detect flaws in the network infrastructure and make recommendations for enhancing the security of the system. A financial crimes expert employed by a government agency may review the policies and procedures in place and look for ways to make those processes more secure for end users. No matter what role they play, the need for financial crime prevention specialists is expected to grow substantially over the next decade.

The growing number of cyber threats has caused many companies — both large, international firms and smaller businesses — to reevaluate their network security. The severe financial penalties assessed to companies that fail to safeguard information more than justify the cost of hiring an expert in financial crime prevention, so the job market is likely to remain strong for many years to come.

The day to day job of the financial crime prevention specialist will vary depending on where they work and the role they play. Some financial crime prevention specialists are asked to analyze and review existing caseloads of suspected fraud — picking out the cases that are most likely to involve fraud. An IT worker with a background in preventing financial fraud may also be asked to tweak existing systems to prevent false positives and make the detection process more precise.

Others in the financial crime prevention field work directly with law enforcement agencies, The Australian Crime Commission Board—which includes Commissioners from every state and territory police jurisdiction and the heads of key Commonwealth agencies—has established a multiagency response called Task Force Galilee. Those individuals may be tasked with investigating specific instances of large-scale fraud. They may, for instance, lead task forces investigating a break-in at a large corporation and the theft of its customer data and credit card numbers. They may be asked to investigate criminal activity within investment banks or other financial institutions. They may investigate dishonest financial advisors who prey on the elderly by selling them unneeded or unsuitable insurance and financial products. This kind of fraud detection is an integral part of protecting consumers, and it is just one of the many roles financial crime prevention specialists play in an increasingly dangerous world.

Task Force Galilee involves 19 State, Territory and Commonwealth government agencies and 25 industry organisations. Through Galilee, the Australian Crime Commission and its partners seek to disrupt serious and organised investment fraud operations and the organised crime groups behind them, and to educate the Australian community about this type of investment fraud and the threat it represents.

The primary agencies contributing to the detection, investigation and/or prevention of investment and Serious and Organised Investment Fraud activity in Australia include law enforcement agencies and regulatory agencies (e.g. ASIC, ACCC and AUSTRAC). However, a range of government agencies (e.g. ACMA, AGD, DIAC, ATO, ACBPS, DHS, DBCDE) and private sector agencies (banks and the superannuation sector) also have a role to play.

Australia is not alone in attempting to disrupt and prevent Serious and Organised Investment Fraud. The AFP’s International Liaison Officer Network provides Australian law enforcement agencies with a mechanism to collaborate with their international counterparts in relation to fraud and other crimes.

If you think a career in financial crime prevention is the choice for you, it is important to get the right training today. Financial crime prevention specialists need to be experts on a wide range of systems, including network infrastructure, database design and existing security measures. They also need to constantly upgrade their skills to stay one step ahead of the criminals. The world of cyber crime is constantly changing and evolving, and workers in this area must work hard to secure additional training throughout their careers.

A background in law enforcement techniques and applicable government regulations is another essential part of life as a financial crime prevention specialist. This is most important if you plan to work in a formal law enforcement setting, but a basic understanding of how law enforcement works will be helpful no matter where you end up working.

If you think that a career in the world of financial crime prevention is right for you, talk to your guidance counselor or career coach about the training and education you need. Degrees in computer programming, network infrastructure and database management will be helpful, as will training in cybersecurity and related fields. Many experts currently working in this field hold computer science degrees, while others hold degrees in mathematics, statistics and similar fields. You may want to talk to people you know who are currently working in the field to discuss your educational plans and design a training plan that works best for you.

Ray Mancini