Face-to-Face with a Fraudster: Become a Human Lie Detector

Despite Hollywood story lines to the contrary, most fraudsters are unassuming, hardworking and ostensibly trustworthy. They have worked at your company for a long time, have a family and seem like “good” people. Most are college-educated and have no criminal history. That’s why, when they decide to commit a fraud, it’s usually something that weighs heavily on their minds. They are constantly stressed about it, thinking about it and worrying they are going to be caught. The conscious or subconscious stress they experience displays itself in certain behaviors. If you are investigating a potential fraud in your organization, you can detect these behaviors if you are paying close attention. If you suspect fraud has occurred and are planning on confronting a fraudster, look for the following behaviors indicating possible deception:

  • A pause or hesitance to answer your questions
  • An increase in their rate of speech—they are uncomfortable and want the deception to be over with as soon as possible
  • If you hear them say “To tell you the truth…” or “To be frank…,” they may not be truthful or frank about the statement that follows.
  • Responding to your question with a question such as, “You think I did this?” or “How could I have possibly taken the money?” is an indicator of possible deception.

Using these tips should assist you or your client in detecting deception by your employees. However, getting a fraudster to admit wrongdoing can be a difficult task, and there are risks to your company if an interview is inappropriately performed. If you or your client are in a situation that requires admission-seeking interviews from potential fraudsters, and you are unsure how to proceed, BKD has specially trained Certified Fraud Examiners with experience uncovering the truth behind a potential fraud.

If you have any questions regarding fraud or how to perform an admission-seeking interview, please contact me. You also can contact your BKD advisor.


Bryan specializes in providing litigation consulting, fraud investigation and forensic accounting services. He has extensive experience in providing litigation support and forensic services for a variety of industries including multiple Fortune 500 companies. In addition to being a CPA, Bryan holds the Certified in Financial Forensics certification from the American Institute of CPAs and also is a Certified Valuation Analyst and Certified Fraud Examiner.

Bryan Callahan – who has written posts on BKD Forensics.

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