What is a Financial Crimes Investigator?

Simply put, a financial crimes investigator concentrates on illegal activity that leads to monetary benefit. A financial crimes investigator can operate in the public sector at federal, state, and local agencies, or work in the private sector on fraud analysis, loss prevention, compliance, or private investigation.

Key Points:

What is financial crime?

These crimes are committed for the financial gain of an individual or organization and can occur in many different forms. We see crimes like embezzlement, money laundering, and fraud on the news, but there are as many flavors of financial crime as there are resourceful bad actors. Some of the more common types include:

  • Tax evasion
  • Money laundering
  • Terrorist financing
  • Fraud
  • Bribery
  • Mortgage fraud
  • Racketeering
  • Securities fraud
  • Identity theft
  • Embezzlement
  • Wire fraud

What do financial crimes investigators do?

Because there are so many different kinds of financial crimes, a financial crimes investigator’s job responsibilities can vary widely. Monitoring financial activities with advanced technologies is a large part of the job, but these investigators also wear many other hats.

In the course of a day, a financial crimes investigator’s job duties could look like:

  • Conducting quality control assessments and preparing reports
  • Interviewing stakeholders to determine their goals for an investigation
  • Conducting surveillance
  • Appearing at court as expert witness, preparing supporting documentation, and preparing for exam and cross-exam
  • Collaborating with other state, local and federal law enforcement agencies
  • Staying up to date on constantly evolving forensic tools
  • Calming clients who are anxious, stressed, and worried about money
  • Managing ever-changing compliance laws and regulations across multiple jurisdictions

What kinds of jobs will a financial crimes investigation concentration prepare me for?

The Financial Crimes concentration equips you for work in the public or private sector. In either sphere, there are an abundance of available career paths. Certified financial crimes investigators may be qualified for even more opportunities, and many investigators choose to pursue the Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) certification.

Public Sector

Law enforcement agencies at the federal, state, and local levels offer tremendous career opportunity for financial crime investigators. There are a number of state and local agencies that specialize in financial crime, all of which employ financial crimes investigators. At the federal level, special agents focus more broadly on violations of federal laws and regulations.

Some public sector roles that the Financial Crimes concentration could prepare you for include:

  • Municipal and state law enforcement
  • Police detective
  • District attorney investigator
  • Attorney general
  • State Bureau of Investigation analyst
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent
  • Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agent
  • Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) agent
  • Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent
  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agent
  • Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigator

Private sector

Within the private sector, financial crimes investigators are employed in loss prevention, corporate fraud analysis, or as private investigators. Corporate fraud investigators can either focus their efforts internally by monitoring employees, or externally by investigating bad actors that threaten the organization.

How much can I earn as a financial crimes investigator?

Earnings for financial crimes investigators can vary greatly, depending on the employer. Below, we’ve listed a few typical roles and their median annual salaries.

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