FBI Washington office targets financial fraud

Since the onset of the U.S. financial crisis in 2008, federal investigators have intensified their focus on financial fraud issues throughout the nation. FBI Director Robert Mueller testified last year that the FBI's corporate and securities fraud cases have increased by nearly 50 percent since September 2008, Bloomberg Businessweek reported recently. By the end of 2011, Mueller said, the bureau was handling more than 2,600 fraud cases.

Many of these cases are being handled by the FBI's field office in Washington, which has recently emerged as a leader in the investigation of financial fraud cases. Previously, the Washington office has been known for its investigations of terrorism and public corruption crimes, while matters of financial fraud were largely handled by the bureau's New York office.

In order to manage the rising caseload, the FBI Washington office has brought in additional staff, including teams of accountants, analysts and special agents who will focus on corporate fraud investigations. FBI officials in Washington also hope to benefit by collaborating with lawyers from the Justice Department's fraud section, which is located less than a mile away.

Employee monitors help businesses detect fraud internally

Federal investigators are not the only ones working harder to detect financial fraud these days; according to a National Public Radio report, a growing number of businesses are employing their own methods to catch employees in the act of insider trading and other forms of potentially criminal misconduct. With insider trading prosecutions rising sharply in recent years, more employers are seeking help from specialized employee monitoring firms - some of which are staffed by former CIA agents, NPR reports.

These fraud detection firms use highly trained experts and sophisticated computer technology to analyze data about employees' behavior and communication habits, looking for red flags that misconduct may be afoot. By creating a profile of employees' individual patterns, such as whom they correspond with and how, analysts are able to spot departures from an employee's routine and investigate them if they believe there is cause for concern.

By turning a lens on their employees in this manner, corporations hope to nip criminal activity in the bud and shield themselves from prosecution in the event that illegal conduct does occur. Along with insider trading, the fraud detection firms monitor corporate employees for signs of embezzlement, bribery, money laundering and other white-collar crimes.

Contact an attorney

When facing allegations of fraud, insider trading or other financial crimes, it is important to seek help from an experienced white-collar criminal defense lawyer. People under investigation for financial misconduct should seek independent representation from an attorney who will work hard to protect their best interests and ensure that their rights are protected.

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