Q&A with Daniel Michener, CFE

Daniel Michener of Minnesota received his CFE credential this past fall after studying with the CFE Exam Prep Course. Michener feels that the CFE credential has opened his eyes to other areas of fraud he wouldn’t normally investigate and that it will help his credibility as an investigator. When Daniel Michener is not working, he trains jJudo and Brazilian Jjiu-jJitsu ; because he enjoys the workout challenge of the workout. DanielMichener also enjoys playing the guitar and traveling. After earning the CFE credential, Daniel feels this will help his credibility as an investigator and opened his eyes to other areas of fraud he normally wouldn’t investigate.

Coach: When did you receive your CFE credential?

Michener: I received my CFE credential in August of 2018 at the CFE Exam Review Course in Chicago, Illinois.

Coach: After attending the CFE Exam Review Course, you sat for the CFE Exam on-site. Please describe your experience of participating in the four-day course and sitting for the exam immediately afterward.

Michener: The four-day course and exam are incredibly quick and thorough. The instructors were fantastic at presenting the material and keeping the class moving along. I really enjoyed the training. I think the high-speed atmosphere forced me to focus on the material as I was more engaged. Taking the exams each day puts pressure on you to stay on task and follow along; it’s difficult to daydream!

Coach: What did you like most about the CFE Exam Review Course?

Michener: I thought the material was relevant and encompassed the spectrum of fraud topics. There was some material I was already comfortable with from my work, but I found most of the topics to be new concepts. So I enjoyed the challenge of learning new material.

Coach: In what ways do you feel that your new CFE credential will be beneficial to you in your current profession?

Michener: As a police officer, I am called to testify on cases. I believe the CFE credential will help in my credibility as an investigator and when I am called to present evidence in court. Second, the CFE credential has opened my eyes to other areas of fraud I normally don’t investigate. It has also given me the opportunity to connect with people in the private sector. Building partnerships between law enforcement and private enterprises is so important to serving the public overall. Law enforcement can’t do it alone, so those connections are needed.

Coach: How did you prepare yourself to sit for the exam on-site? Did you spend any additional time studying after class each day?

Michener: I had to take advantage of the breaks. I have never been a person who can simply read a chapter and then take a test on it; I need to take my notes and the readings and rewrite them. This type of drill was important in retaining and understanding key terms and concepts. I found that studying after each class was difficult. The days are long and you cram in so much material, so you need a break. That’s why I spent several months studying prior to taking the exam. My goals were to walk into the course feeling comfortable with the material and to tighten up any areas I was weak in.

Coach: Would you recommend this course to your colleagues?

Michener: I would recommend the Review Course because it will enhance your skills and reenergize you to approach your work when you get back home. It will open your eyes to a large field of study and the potential to become an expert in certain areas.

Coach: How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?

Michener: I actually became interested in money laundering several years ago. I never thought I would take this career path, but my interest in financial crimes pushed me into fraud investigations. I enjoy the challenge and learning new skills and techniques for my career. It is a tough subject and requires constant attention to details, but it is rewarding when you see the results and understand the nature of the case.

Coach: Now that we know what you do professionally, what do you like to do for fun and what do you find enjoyable about it?

Michener: I train Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Besides the intense workouts, it is always a challenge. No matter how good you get, there is always someone better. The pressure teaches you to relax during stressful moments and think your way through a problem. I also play some guitar, and I love to travel. I’ve been to Brazil, Morocco, Spain, Iceland, and England. I enjoy all of these activities because they force me to get out of my comfort zone and try new things.

Coach: Do you have any study tips or suggestions for aspiring CFEs?

Michener: Start early! Sign up for the Review Course as soon as you can and take the exams on the CFE Exam Prep Course. I knocked out the larger review sessions first, and then I did the practice exams. Because you can take the practice exams as many times as you want, I constantly drilled those—even after getting a passing grade. Also, seek out people who’ve taken the exam before and listen to their advice. I was fortunate as my supervisor and coworker had taken the exam before me. Their advice and tips were important, and they helped motivate me to take the exam seriously.

Q&A with Anjum Madan, CFE

This past fall, Anjum Madan of Canada put some time aside to focus on accomplishing her goal of obtaining the CFE credential. After preparing with the CFE Exam Prep Course, Anjum was certified in December 2018. Anjum feels that her new credential has given her a confidence boost, as well as a great knowledge base to refer to in her fraud prevention career. When Anjum is not working, she enjoys spending time with her rescue pup from Mexico named Quilla.

Coach: When did you receive your CFE credential?

Madan: I received my credential in December 2018.

Coach: Please describe your experience using the CFE Exam Prep Course.

Madan: I found that the Prep Course helped me focus on the most important topics. It also gave me direction as to where to start my journey because seeing the Fraud Examiners Manual in its entirety was very daunting.

Coach: What did you like most about the Prep Course?

Madan: I liked the flexibility to study in the way that made the most sense to me. At first, I studied whole sections at a time, but then I realized that, for me, it was better to study one topic at a time.

Coach: How long did it take you to complete the Prep Course and, how often did you study?

Madan: In total, it took me a couple of years of starting and stopping the Prep Course to complete it. However, the last time I began using the Prep Course again was during the 90-Day Challenge. I finished the course in two-and-a-half months. I studied for at least one hour each weekday. If, for some reason, I was unable to study for five hours during the week, or I felt particularly stuck on a topic, I would put in a couple of hours over the weekend.

Coach: In what ways do you feel that your new CFE credential will be beneficial to you in your current profession?

Madan: I come from a design and customer service background, so I earned the CFE credential more for myself. It is a huge confidence booster to know that I have put in the time and have a great knowledge base to refer to. In addition, it shows employers that I am serious about a career in fraud prevention.

Coach: Would you recommend this course to your colleagues?

Madan: I would recommend this course to those who would like to pursue a career in fraud prevention.

Coach: How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?

Madan: I have always been curious when things don't quite seem right and have felt the need to figure out why. It started in a summer job that I had in the British High Commission where stamps in passports that looked out of place made me start asking questions.

Coach: Now that we know what you do professionally, what do you like to do for fun and what do you find enjoyable about it?

Madan: I have a rescue pup from Mexico named Quilla, and we love going for long walks and exploring the trails. We love it even more when the weather warms up!

Coach: Do you have any study tips or suggestions for aspiring CFEs?

Madan: I have two tips: Take notes as you go through the Prep Course. Make note of any questions you answer incorrectly or when you are unsure of what some of the options mean—go back and study those. Those notes are also great to refer to right before you take your final exams. Secondly, read the questions very carefully. Sometimes it is easy to think you know the right answer, but the way the question is worded results in that being the incorrect answer.

Q&A with Greg Burri, CFE

Greg Burri of Ohio recently became a CFE after attending a CFE Exam Review Course. Greg began his career in law enforcement, but, as his career progressed, he realized the damage that is caused by white-collar crime. So, this past fall, Greg put some time aside to focus on accomplishing his goal of obtaining his CFE credential. Having the CFE credential has given Greg the same sense of accomplishment in uncovering a complex fraud as he once felt catching a bad guy in a foot chase. When Greg is not working, he enjoys hiking, biking, and kayaking.

Coach: When did you receive your CFE credential?

Burri: I received my CFE credential in September 2018.

Coach: You attended the CFE Exam Review Course in Chicago, Illinois, and, following the course, you sat for the CFE Exam on-site. Please describe your experience of participating in the four-day course and then sitting for the exam immediately afterward.

Burri: My experience was fairly intense. I don’t want to put anyone off, but you really have to stay focused during the Review Course and for the exam each day. It’s not overwhelming, though. If you’re successful enough to need the CFE credential, you can do it.

Coach: What did you like most about the CFE Exam Review Course?

Burri: It matched my style of learning. I am a more auditory and visual learner; I can’t just sit down and read a book and learn the material very well. Having someone explain the content was very helpful. It also helped to have the topics organized and condensed.

Coach: In what ways do you feel that your new CFE credential will be beneficial to you in your current profession?

Burri: I have rarely seen jobs posted in the private sector where a credential was not required or preferred for fraud investigation positions. Often, the CFE credential is used as an example of a preferred credential, and it can be applied to a number of industries. There are credentials for more specific fraud types, but the CFE credential is well-regarded as being fundamental.

Coach: How did you prepare yourself to sit for the CFE Exam on-site? Did you spend any additional time studying after class each day?

Burri: I did attempt the CFE Exam Prep Course, but it wasn’t as helpful to me as was my background in law enforcement. My experience in law enforcement prepared me for the Law and Investigation sections of the CFE Exam, in addition to the Review Course.

I think there was only one day that I went over notes between the Review Course and the CFE Exam. There is a lot of information to absorb, and I didn’t feel that cramming was advantageous.

Coach: Would you recommend the CFE Exam Review Course to your colleagues?

Burri: Yes, I think the Review Course makes you substantially more prepared.

Coach: How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?

Burri: I began my career in law enforcement, and a lot of people in that field are looking for high-speed excitement. Admittedly, I, too, was looking for that excitement to some degree. As my career progressed, I realized the damage that could be done by white-collar crime and the lack of resources in this area. Also, I found a similar sense of accomplishment in uncovering a complex fraud as I did in catching a bad guy in a foot chase.

Coach: Now that we know what you do professionally, what do you like to do for fun and what do you find enjoyable about it?

Burri: I love outdoor activities and hiking, kayaking, and biking. It’s the balance I need for sitting in front of a computer for forty hours a week.

Coach: Do you have any study tips or suggestions for aspiring CFEs?

Burri: You should really evaluate what kind of a learner you are. Think about your previous academic successes and failures, and then apply that to studying for the CFE Exam. There is no one way to study.

Q&A with Abdullah Mansour, CFE

Abdullah Mansour of Saudi Arabia received his CFE credential this past year after studying with the CFE Exam Prep Course. When Abdullah is not working in his position at a leading health insurance company, he enjoys managing an educational YouTube channel for children and designing coffee-themed T-shirts. Abdullah feels that his new credential has helped him improve his professional skills, and he believes it has afforded him new opportunities to invest in his career.

Coach: When did you receive your CFE credential?

Mansour: I sat for the CFE Exam and received my CFE credential in April 2018.

Coach: Please describe your experience using the CFE Exam Prep Course?

Mansour: The Prep Course is a valuable source that is designed in an instructive way to help one learn; it enriched my knowledge. Also, the Prep Course develops skills and strategies to pass the exam.

The Prep Course is organized in three modules:

  • Optional Pre-Assessment Test (100 questions): This test evaluated my strengths and weaknesses. As a person in health care with a medical-knowledge background and health insurance experience, the Law and Financial Transactions and Fraud Schemes sections were the areas I liked the most, but Investigation and Fraud Prevention and Deterrence were the sections I performed strongest in.

  • Review Sessions: These sessions consist of four sections with questions for review. I started with my stronger sections as the Prep Course advised. In Law and Financial Transactions and Fraud Schemes, I started with quick reading for each chapter from the Fraud Examiners Manual before going through the review session questions. I want to clarify something regarding my quick reading in the areas I lack knowledge: I believe that quickly reading a chapter several times is more valuable than reading at a slower pace once or twice. Also, it is best to write down notes, especially in the Law section.

  • Practice Exams (400 questions): These practice exams simulate the actual CFE Exam environment. I completed each practice exam immediately after finishing the corresponding review session, and then I repeated each practice exam two to three times on the day before the real exam.

Coach: What did you like most about the Prep Course?

Mansour: I liked the design of the course and how it starts by spotting and evaluating an individual’s weaknesses and strengths; it then takes you through each review session and ends with a simulated exam environment. This order is logical, natural, and vital in gaining the knowledge to pass the exam.

Coach: How long did it take you to complete the Prep Course and how often did you study?

Mansour: I began studying in December 2017. It took me almost four months to study. Of my studying, 70% of it was for Law and Financial Transactions and Fraud Schemes. I studied an average of ten hours per week.

Coach: In what ways do you feel that your new CFE credential will be beneficial to you in your current profession?

Mansour: I am working for the leading health insurance company in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Middle East. All that I learned in my journey to becoming a CFE has added to my capability and skills in investigations, meetings, analyses, and reports, which will support the quality of my work. Being certified from a highly credible organization makes me proud and confident. My CFE credential gives me a broader scope and new opportunities to invest in my career. I now can apply for vacancies worldwide or even become a one-of-a-kind ACFE Authorized Trainer.

Coach: Would you recommend this course to your colleagues?

Mansour: For sure, and I already did recommend this course. It is one of the best investments I have made in my career.

Coach: How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?

Mansour: I started my health insurance career in 2010 as a claims officer, and I became passionate about fighting fraud in my first days as I began to notice signs of manipulation and fraud in some claims. Within a short amount of time, and after flagging many fraud cases, I was promoted to senior positions, and then to medical audit manager. Currently, I am a rules manger looking for automation and digitalization of processes, which has made me more passionate in how to involve artificial intelligence in fraud fighting activities.

Coach: Now that we know what you do professionally, what do you like to do for fun and what do you find enjoyable about it?

Mansour: For fun, I am managing a YouTube channel named Healthcare and Life. I present some educational videos for children in this channel, and I tackle one of the most important topics nowadays, which is healthy food. In addition, I share videos about interesting destinations, nature, and eye-catching incidents that happen on a daily basis. I also make t-shirt designs that I sell online. What I find interesting about my hobbies is that they make me feel happy and relaxed, and, at the same time, it is a sort of help to others. Last but not least, one of the most precious moments of my day is drinking coffee, as well as preparing a couple of cups for some mates. In fact, I adore smelling coffee; I think I am addicted to coffee! I even started designing some coffee-themed shirts.

Coach: Do you have any study tips or suggestions for aspiring CFEs?

Mansour: Always start with the easier sections, whether in studying, reviewing, or taking the CFE Exam. Always scan your topic before doing the real studying. Take notes on any difficult points to be reviewed later.

Q & A with Stephanie Ziegler, CFE

Stephanie Ziegler of Oregon recently became a CFE after attending the CFE Exam Review Course. When Stephanie is not working, she loves to read and travel with her husband. She also has a passion for sports. But a couple a months ago, she put some time aside to focus on accomplishing her goal of obtaining the CFE credential. Stephanie feels that the concepts she learned while studying to be a CFE are fundamental in her efforts to create a fraud risk management program at the credit union where she works. She also feels that the information she learned has influenced her work as a fraud investigator and witness in legal cases.

Coach: When did you receive your CFE credential?

Ziegler: I was officially awarded the credential on November 8, 2018.

Coach: You attended the CFE Exam Review Course in New York and following the course you sat for the CFE Exam on-site. Please describe your experience of participating in the four-day course and then sitting for the exam immediately after.

Ziegler: Participating in the on-site course and then taking the test afterward created a completely immersive atmosphere. I was able to spend each day reviewing a section and focusing on areas that I wanted to improve in, and then I would study and test that new knowledge. I didn’t have to worry about forgetting to study a certain concept because the instructors covered all aspects of each section. And I like the way the course is structured; as you progress through the days, the concepts begin building off of one another, and you see how different areas of fraud are similar. This helps when taking the test.

Coach: What did you like most about the CFE Exam Review Course?

Ziegler: I found the four-day course to be extremely helpful. I had been studying on my own using the CFE Exam Prep Course, but having the ability to ask questions and discuss concepts with other attendees increased my comfort level with some of the more difficult concepts. I saw an increase of at least 5% on my official exam scores over my practice tests, and I attribute that directly to my on-site experience.

Coach: In what ways do you feel that your new CFE credential will be beneficial to you in your current profession?

Ziegler: I work for a credit union and focus on fraud and the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). We are currently building our fraud risk management program, and the concepts that I have learned while studying to be a CFE are fundamental in creating that program in our institution. Additionally, what I learned has influenced my work as a fraud investigator and witness in legal cases.

Coach: How did you prepare yourself to sit for the exam on-site? Did you spend any additional time studying after class each day?

Ziegler: I began by studying with the CFE Exam Prep Course, and I used that to become familiar with the concepts and format of the CFE Exam. Once I was in New York for the CFE Exam Review Course, I used the Prep Course to prepare myself for the section that was to be reviewed the following day. Each night I would take a practice test for the next day’s section, and then I would take the practice test again in the morning before class began. That was helpful because I could see what areas I was weaker in on the practice tests, and I knew to focus on those throughout the day when I had the opportunity to ask questions. If needed, I took another practice test at lunch or reviewed topics with other attendees.

Coach: Would you recommend this course to your colleagues?

Ziegler: I absolutely would recommend this course. I felt like the CFE Exam Prep Course gave me a great knowledge base for the exam, but the on-site CFE Exam Review Course took the learning experience to the next level. The benefits of in-person instruction were essential for me.

Coach: How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?

Ziegler: I have wanted to work in fraud since I began working for financial institutions over 15 years ago. It seemed like a fascinating and ever-evolving area to be in. I have been working fraud cases for almost six years now and still love it every day. I love the complexity of fraud and the challenge that it presents. I also love being able to help people who have been the victims of fraud. It is very rewarding to be someone who they can trust and rely on while they are going through such a difficult time.

Coach: Now that we know what you do professionally, what do you like to do for fun and what do you find enjoyable about it?

Ziegler: I am a constant learner. I love to read and travel with my husband. I also love sports; I’ll watch almost anything, but I’m most passionate about NCAA football, women’s basketball, and Major League Baseball. Education and literacy are extremely important to me, so I spend time volunteering with local schools and organizations that focus on improving education and literacy in my community.

Coach: Do you have any study tips or suggestions for aspiring CFEs?

Ziegler: I don’t think one could over-prepare for these exams. I found it most important to set aside a specific amount of time to study throughout my day; otherwise, it was easy for me to tell myself that I’d just get to it later, but then that wouldn’t happen. Also, once you’re on-site taking the course, go for it and take the test, even though it’s optional! The information is fresh in your mind, and there is no downside to trying!