Making Sure Your Forensic Investigation Interviewees are Credible

David Anderson is principal of David Anderson & Associates, a Philadelphia forensic accounting firm that provides a full range of fraud investigation, forensic accounting, and marital dissolution services in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley.

A key part of any fraud or forensic-based investigation – says David Anderson, principal of David Anderson & Associates, a Philadelphia forensic accounting firm that provides a full range of fraud investigation and fraud deterrence programs in the Delaware Valley – is to interview people involved in the matter.

Here’s a first-person description by Anderson on how a Certified Fraud Examiner, such as himself, vets the information from, and performance of, interviewees in an investigation of financial malfeasance.

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As a forensic accountant, I not only must interview individuals who play key roles in a case I am investigating, but also determine each one’s credibility.  In such situations, I have the same issues when judging credibility and reliability as a juror does when hearing testimony in court.

When documentation and independent verification is lacking, a forensic accountant must rely upon the credibility of these interviewees.  To determine the credibility and reliability of such persons, the forensic accountant must consider the factors detailed below.

To begin with, I consider the totality of what each person is saying to me and ask myself if he or she has been consistent within each interview and across multiple interviews.  If the interviewee has been consistent, that is a point in favor of credibility.

I also seek to determine if the interviewee’s information is consistent with other interviewees, and with documentation and other evidence I have gathered.  If these factors are consistent, I place more credibility in that interviewee.

Another key factor is the extent to which an interviewee requests me to focus or not focus my investigation in a direction or on a person.  I must also consider how that affects his or her credibility.

For example, if I have been hired by a family-owned business to investigate potential fraudulent activities on the part of a family member, and an interviewee is extremely negative about the family member, I must question whether his or her information is truly reliable or has been colored by interviewee’s animosity towards the other family member.

Additionally, if the interviewee requests I present findings that are inconsistent with documented information and/or information provided by other interviewees, this also affects my view of the interviewee’s credibility.

Other interview aspects I must also assess include:

  • Inconsistencies in memory about an event – does the person display good memory about certain events and poor memory about others? What if the poor memories occur only for suspected items?
    • In one case, the interviewee identified the step-by-step procedures and bases for approval of certain valid transactions, but then could not remember why she approved certain improper transactions.
  • Does the person act defensively when interviewed about suspected items, even when not accused of wrongdoing?
  • Does the person claim others approved his or her improper actions?
    • For example, in one instance, the interviewee claimed the company’s tax accountant authorized him to not report certain revenues on the company’s tax return.
    • In another instance, the interviewee told me a now-deceased executive had long ago informed him the certain improper transactions were acceptable to company management, and that was why the interviewee approved more recent improper transactions.
  • Does the person promise to get back to me with documentation for certain transactions, but later fails to provide such while attempting to avoid speaking with me?

Only after considering such factors as I have detailed above can the forensic accountant determine whether to rely on such persons, especially when documentation and independent verification is lacking.

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If you’re not getting the answers, or results, you want in your internal investigations, maybe you should be working with a Certified Fraud Examiner from an experienced firm that provides forensic accounting services in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley.

When you need the services of a Certified Fraud Examiner or any other forensic accounting services in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley, please contact the Philadelphia forensic accounting firm of David Anderson & Associates by calling David Anderson at 267-207-3597 or emailing him at

About David Anderson & Associates

David Anderson & Associates is a Philadelphia forensic accounting firm that provides a full range of forensic accounting services in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley.  The experienced professionals at David Anderson & Associates provide forensic accounting, business valuation, fraud investigation, fraud deterrence, litigation support, economic damage analysis, business consulting and outsourced CFO services.  Company principal David Anderson is a forensic accounting expert who has more than 30 years of experience in financial and operational leadership positions and is a Certified Public Accountant, a Certified Fraud Examiner and a Certified Valuation Analyst.