John E. Reid & Associates, Inc. proudly congratulates one of our graduates for doing an outstanding job using the Reid Technique of Interviewing and Interrogation to resolve the Featured Case.
|Richard A. Vivola |
Fulton Financial Corporation
2 years at present position
I have been a member of the Reid Institute since August 2001. I am a Certified Fraud Examiner, Certified Financial Services Auditor and Certified Bank Auditor. I also hold a BS Degree in Finance from Millersville University. My responsibilities include managing the internal audit function and performing fraud investigations for a 7.5 billion-dollar bank holding company, which operates in four Mid-Atlantic States.
Basic and Advance Course in the Reid Technique of Interviewing and Interrogation - March 2001.
In July 2001, four cashiers (official) checks were written by one of our bank tellers for the following amounts, $4,998.09, $4,653.00, $5,267.41 and $2,335.55, totaling $17,254.00. The check copies, which should go through the teller's work with either cash or a personal check as an offset, were put through the work of another teller without the funds to purchase them. None of the paperwork for the checks was processed properly. The teller was a full time employee and had been employed at the bank for two years. She was fully aware of the proper procedures concerning the processing of such checks.
When the checks came back to the bank from the credit card companies for clearing, it was discovered that the checks did not have an offset on the bank's books. When the accounting department received the checks without an offset, they contacted the teller who authorized the cashier's checks. The teller explained that a bank customer failed to pay her for the checks and that she would try to contact the customer for payment.
After several weeks the accounting department became suspicious because the teller was unable to identify or contact the customer. An investigation was initiated.
During the interviews of other tellers at the bank and a review of personnel records, it was learned that the teller who authorized the checks was 29 years old, married, and pregnant. Her combined income with her husband was estimated at approximately $40,000/year. They had the following outstanding debts: $11,000 in revolving credit (charge cards), $69,000 in installment credit (they just recently purchased two new cars and a new boat), and a mortgage of approximately $100,000. This equated to minimum monthly payments of $2,115.00.
Further investigation of a credit report, obtained for pre-employment purposes, revealed that the teller had accounts at the credit card companies where the alleged fraudulent checks were remitted.
|BEHAVIORAL ANALYSIS INTERVIEW QUESTIONS |
General Behavioral Observations:
Q: Do you know the reason for the interview today?
A: Something about official checks.
Q: We are investigating the missing official checks and charge-off. If you had anything to do with this issue you should tell me know.
A: The checks came back and we are trying to figure out what happened.
Note: The suspect did not answer the question as to her involvement.
Q: Do you know who did this?
A: A customer did not give me the money for the official checks.
Q: Is there anyone you feel may have been involved?
A: No - The tellers did not have anything to do with this.
Q: Is there anyone you can vouch for and say you do not think they would have done this?
A: I trust the other tellers.
Q: Tell me what you know about this matter.
A: I remember doing the checks for the customer, he must not have gave me the money. I called him and he said he will check his records.
Note: Although she allegedly made the call only days earlier, she could not recall the customer's name.
Q: How do you feel about being interviewed?
A: Nervous - But I understand.
Q: you think this actually occurred and was done deliberately?
Q: Who would have had the best opportunity to issue the checks without the proper funds?
A: The teller who put through the transaction for the customer.
Q: Why do you feel someone may have done this?
A: Not done deliberately.
Q: Why wouldn't you do something like this?
A: Would not want to ruin my name.
Q: What do you think should happen to the person who did this?
A: Should be prosecuted
Q: Do you think the person who did this deserves a second chance under any circumstances?
A: Depends on the situation. I don't want to be harsh.
Q: How do you think the investigation will turn out as to your involvement?
A: I hope the customer will contact us to get the funds back.
Note: Suspect did not answer the question.
Q: (BAIT) "One of the things we will be doing to continue this investigation is reviewing video surveillance and obtaining evidence from the credit card companies. Is there any reason we would not see a customer at your window."
A: (After some hesitation) You should see the customer on that day.
Throughout the interview, the customer spoke very quietly, sat unusually still and did not maintain eye contact on any of the key behavioral questions asked.
|INTERROGATION - THEME AND ALTERNATE QUESTION |
The interrogation of the suspect occurred shortly after the interview and lasted approximately 20 minutes.
"When I re-entered the room I informed the suspect that I did not feel that she has told me the truth in this matter and that our investigation clearly shows that she did this. The suspect offered some weak denials for approximately five minutes. I interrupted all denials indicating there was no doubt that she did this. At this point I began to develop the theme that the suspect works around money all day (the nature of the job makes it tempting and easy to take money), and she needed the money for her family. I also indicated that I have seen a lot of people do this when they need money. She is not alone in this predicament. The suspect became silent and withdrawn. "
I gave the suspect an alternative question.
"Did you take the checks to pay bills for your family or are you angry with the bank and wanted to get them?"
After presenting the question several times the suspect nodded yes to the first alternative of trying to help her family. The suspect proceeded to tell me she lied about the customer because she thought she could pay back the funds.
The suspect agreed to write up an admission of guilt that said she used the funds to pay personnel bills for her family and did not want to hurt anyone at the bank. She also indicated she made up a story regarding customer involvement, to buy time to pay back the funds. The suspect also agreed to make full restitution.
The employee was terminated and subsequently, failed to make restitution. The bank decided to prosecute. The suspect requested a jury trial at the preliminary hearing and I am waiting for a trial date.
During our discussion concerning preparation prior to the Behavioral Analysis Interview we discuss the importance of developing information about the potential suspects to identify precipitators for the crime. Precipitators are factors and circumstances that contribute to the decision to commit an offense. A valuable source of this information, in employee related matters, are co-workers. That is why we recommend that interviewers interview their least likely suspects first and their most likely suspects last. In this case the most likely suspect was the teller that authorized the official checks. Therefor she was interviewed last.
Although it can take more time and effort on the part of the interviewer to interview suspects who are probably not involved, it can produce valuable information in the resolution of the case. Your least likely suspects are more apt to volunteer information about other employees that you may not be able to acquire from any other source. They can also give you insight as to what company procedures are being followed and which ones are not. In this particular case it was the tellers co-workers that informed the investigator that she had recently purchased two new cars and a boat. This information along with other information was helpful in identifying her as a prime suspect. This information was also helpful in developing the proper primary and secondary themes for the interrogation.
Primary themes lay the foundation for the interrogation. They are general statements that apply to many people. For example, a common primary theme we use in a theft case like this is to suggest that the person is basically an honest person who made a mistake in judgement due to the circumstances. We also use the concept of blaming the economy for their financial struggles, or the employer for not paying them enough. However, for an interrogation to be successful we have to build on our primary themes some secondary themes. Secondary themes personalize the interrogation. These themes should reflect the case facts and the suspect's individual life circumstances. That is why it is important to be patient in the investigation and not initiate an interrogation until you have sufficient information about the suspect you are going to interrogate as Mr. Vivola did in this case. He interviewed several people and did a thorough investigation before bringing the primary suspect in for the interrogation. His patience paid off.