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Conference Recap: What We Learned About Whistleblower Support


Conference season has begun, and the Case IQ team has been traveling, meeting new and old connections, and learning a lot. One common theme we’ve been seeing in the fraud space especially is whistleblower support.

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In June 2024, Case IQ’s EVP Strategy and Founder of WhistleBlower Security Shannon Walker attended Compliance Week’s Financial Crimes and Regulatory Summit. She had the opportunity to interview Edward “Ted” Siedle, a whistleblower who received some of the largest payouts ever through both the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Whistleblower Program and the Whistleblower Program of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Siedle previously worked as an SEC attorney and now runs his own law firm, the Siedle Law Offices. He is also the author of three books, including How to Steal a Lot of Money—Legally and Who Stole My Pension? How to Stop the Looting. Siedle’s books aim to uncover shifty and even illegal business practices at some financial institutions and how readers can protect themselves.

Shannon and Ted at the Financial Crimes Summit

No one wants to believe that fraud will happen at their organization, but in reality, most organizations will face it in some capacity. To that end, Shannon asked Ted how a chief compliance officer (CCO) should prepare for an internal fraud investigation.

Ted offered blunt and honest advice. “If you do your job well, you will eventually likely have to confront your employer,” Ted shared. “But if you choose to blow the whistle, there is no reason at all to believe it should ruin your career.” His first tip for whistleblowers was to avoid immediately going public with a report; in other words, you should limit the number of people who know that you’re a whistleblower. Ted suggests using the regulatory programs that offer confidentiality, which is most of them, as often as possible.

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Shannon and Ted also talked about how today’s regulations and reward programs offer the safest environment and most whistleblower support in history. “There’s no reason for a compliance officer to fear for their personal safety, their job, or their reputation in today’s whistleblowing environment,” Ted said. “With all the anonymous options and incentives to organizations to detect and resolve fraud, it really can be a positive experience to report.”

When wrestling the moral dilemma of balancing payments for whistleblowing, Ted shared, “Personally, I can’t think of any better way to make money than by whistleblowing. The damage we’re preventing is exponential. And for a corporation, paying whistleblowers is incredibly smart; you’re essentially rewarding deep experience, and it doesn’t pay out if they’re wrong.”

In other words, no one is whistleblowing just for a payout. Whistleblowers only receive awards if fraud is found, so bad-faith reports are rare. The money is just an extra bonus on top of stopping harmful behavior.

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If you are a CCO considering blowing the whistle, Ted offers these pieces of advice:

  1. Don’t be surprised. Expect that you will uncover some kind of fraud at your organization eventually, even if it’s a small scheme.
  2. Do a thorough investigation and deep research before reporting. Make sure you have evidence to back up your claim.
  3. Don’t go public! Use the anonymous reporting options (such as the SEC’s hotline). Or if you are going to report directly to your employer, don’t tell anyone else you’ve done so until it’s over and your claims have been proven.
  4. Do not assume you’re the first person who uncovered the fraud, or that it stops where you think it does. It’s quite possible the scheme is older and bigger than you realize.
  5. Be prepared for any outcome. There are more factors at play than just your report.

 

Team Case IQ also visited the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE)’s 35th Annual Conference in Las Vegas. A real highlight was the keynote with Jennifer Griffith, CFE, and Sarah Carver, CFE. These two professionals received ACFE’s Sentinel Award for their work on exposing a multimillion-dollar fraud scheme at the U.S. Social Security Administration.

For years, Carver and Griffith tried to inform their superiors that a lawyer and a judge were working together to fraudulently approve disability claims. Though they did not receive whistleblower support, and in fact faced retaliation for their work, they pushed on, setting an example of courage and tenacity for others to follow.

The importance of following up on fraud tips can’t be overstated. According to the ACFE’s 2024 Report to the Nations, “43 percent  of occupational frauds were detected by a tip, which is more than 3x as many cases as the next common method.” When you support fraud whistleblowers, it not only protects them, but also reduces risk to your organization’s bottom line and public reputation.

Case IQ team members at the 2024 ACFE Global Fraud Conference

 

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