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Be wary of these criminal investigation tactics

Being the subject of investigation for a white-collar crime can be daunting, especially if you aren't sure what to expect. If you aren't careful, saying or doing the wrong thing can compound your woes.

The best way to prepare for the tactics investigators use is to understand them. Once you know what an investigator is trying to do and why, you can defend yourself more easily. Some of the most common tactics include:

1. Catching you off your guard

There's nothing an investigator likes better than peppering the subject of an investigation with unexpected questions, except maybe getting unexpected answers. It's easy to get thrown off by intentionally intrusive questions and a handful of paperwork that may or may not corroborate the investigator's theories.

Your best response when you're startled is nothing at all. Say, "I'm not sure," "I don't recall" or something similar. You can then refuse to answer the questions until you've reviewed the documents you've been shown and talked to your attorney.

2. Asking the same question over and over again

Another investigative tactic is to repeat the same question in various ways. The goal, naturally, is to get you to either elaborate on what you've already said out of frustration and a desire to end the questioning, which gives the investigator more to work with, or to get you to change your answer.

Pay attention to what the investigator is asking. If you're too tired to keep track, insist that you need a break to rest and talk to your attorney. If you're sure that you've been asked a question before, remind the investigator that you've already answered the question. You don't need to repeat yourself.

3. Looking for disorganization

Disorganized files or records help investigators, because they're more than happy to organize things in a way that supports their case. You need to keep your own records carefully. That will make it much harder for someone to impose their own narrative onto things.

If you're concerned about the organization of your records, immediately start to get things in shape. Make sure you pinpoint documents that can be used for your defense. That will make things easier in the long run. Just make certain that you don't destroy anything, even if the records aren't relevant to a criminal investigation. You don't want to be accused of tampering with evidence.

Source: Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, Inc., "Investigating white-collar crime with a blue-collar approach," Charles E. Piper, CFE, CFS, CRT, accessed April 20, 2018

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