Fraud Investigator

How To Become A Fraud Investigator

Having a master’s degree in accounting exposes a person to numerous unique career opportunities. One of the most interesting and rewarding positions for accounting students is the fraud investigator. This professional reviews fraud claims to determine if a person or organization deceived a company to obtain money illegally. Discover how you become a fraud investigator by completing the Master of Science in Accounting (MSAC) program at Fairfax University of America in Virginia. Our campus is in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.

What Is a Fraud Investigator?

Fraud investigators look into client claims to determine their legitimacy, helping the businesses they work for decide whether to pay the customer. Various organizations require fraud investigators, including banks, credit unions, insurance companies, government institutions, and private investigation firms.

The size of the claims fraud investigators handle depends on their industry. For instance, someone who works in the healthcare sector may scrutinize small cases involving single patients, while a government agent may deal with complex, organized crime activities. Regardless of the specific position, common tasks for fraud investigators include:

  • Classifying potential fraud risks for organizations, such as security breaches
  • Communicating with law enforcement agencies, financial institutions, and retailers to confirm information regarding fraud
  • Constructing models for analyzing fraud and enhancing system efficiency at businesses
  • Designing and implementing measures to prevent fraud
  • Questioning possible suspects to establish fault
  • Recording activities associated with the investigation
  • Secretly observing a claimant’s behavior to see if they act suspiciously based on their claim

How Can Fraud Investigators Advance Their Careers?

Fraud investigators earn relatively rewarding salaries on average each year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In May 2020, the median annual wages for these professionals ranged from $68,130 to $68,270. However, the highest-paid fraud investigators took home $103,610, indicating a significant possibility for growth. Take the following steps if you wish to seek an advanced job as a fraud investigator:

Acquire a License

You may or may not need licensure to become a fraud investigator, as each state has unique requirements for this profession. However, attaining a license gives you more employment freedom because it allows you to apply for jobs in more regions throughout the country.

Take Certification Tests

While certification often is optional for fraud investigators, it helps you stand out against other job candidates. It also strengthens your understanding of key concepts of the career and can boost your earning potential. The two primary certifications for fraud investigators include:

Continue Your Education

New developments in technology affect every business, and fraud investigation is no exception. As a result, your employer or state may require you to take continuing education courses to ensure your skills reflect the modern understanding of fraud. These courses also can improve your job prospects in the field.

Seek Higher Education

You typically need only a high school diploma or equivalent (GED) to obtain an entry-level position as a fraud investigator but having a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a related program will increase your career opportunities. Going back to school can require a significant investment of time and money, but it proves worth the effort when you begin searching for jobs.

How Does Studying Accounting Prepare You for Fraud Investigation?

One of the subjects that best prepares students to become fraud investigators is accounting. To be an effective fraud investigator, you need exceptional oral and written communication skills to draft financial statements and legal reports and record other information about claims. Additionally, you must have a thorough understanding of the ethical, financial, and legal principles that guide operations at organizations.

The basic concepts taught in college accounting programs give students the ability to perform many fraud investigation tasks at different businesses. For example, the MSAC program at Fairfax University of America instructs students on how to communicate essential accounting and tax standards, both of which can be vital for investigating fraud. It also shows students how to weigh the ethical, legal, and regulatory implications of multiple accounting methods.

If you are not interested in pursuing a master’s in accounting, consider enrolling in our Master of Business Administration (MBA) program. The skills learned in this coursework also will enable you to have a successful career as a fraud investigator.

What Investigation Jobs Are Available for Accounting Professionals?

Since every business handles financial resources, there are countless career paths for people with a master’s in accounting. However, if you want to focus on fraud investigation or similar jobs, consider pursuing one of the following career paths:

  • Auditor
  • Financial Analyst
  • Forensic Accountant
  • Risk Manager
  • Controller

Begin Your Professional Journey in Fraud Investigation

Enroll in the MSAC program at Fairfax University of America to achieve your dream career as a fraud investigator. We are a non-profit academic institution dedicated to providing affordable, flexible, and business-focused instruction to students with varying educational needs. Request information online to learn more about our master’s in accounting program. You also can fill out an application to enroll today at our Virginia campus in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.