Q & A with Tobin Craig, CFE

Tobin Craig of Maryland recently became a CFE after attending a CFE Exam Review Course. When Tobin is not working, he enjoys drumming, making wine
and, constructing model aircraft. However, this past fall, he put some time aside to focus on accomplishing his goal of obtaining the CFE credential. Tobin believes his new CFE credential will present interesting challenges for him in both his current position and the future.

Coach: When did you receive your CFE credential?
I was notified on April 11, 2018, that I had successfully completed the certification process. 

Coach: You attended the CFE Exam Review Course in Washington, D.C., 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.
There is a lot to ingest over the four days! I learned early on that my best option for success was to make my learning environment as flexible as possible. For me, this meant abandoning the rows of tables; instead, I chose to camp out at the back wall at a standing table with a chair beside it. This gave me the option to stand, sit, or pace without being distracting to the class or claustrophobic. I found that definitely taking each set of exams at the end of the day to be preferential. There's a lot to absorb, so being able to focus on each topic and then test on it was really helpful. 

Coach: What did you like most about the CFE Exam Review Course?
The things I liked the most were the fast pace of the material, the speakers being relevant and engaging, and the fact that they did a great job of corralling a really large group of people! I also enjoyed meeting new people over lunch. I took the class by myself, so I had two options: take lunch alone or meet new people. I'm glad I chose the latter; I had some great discussions with a number of people from all walks of life.

Coach:  In what ways do you feel that your new CFE credential will be beneficial to you in your current profession?
My background is in forensic science; I began as a chemist, then became a document examiner and, more recently, moved to computer forensics. I was initially skeptical of how this would augment my career path of more than 20 years, but I've recently transitioned into a field that is more aligned with investigations involving big data. In looking through Fraud Magazine recently, I was really surprised to learn just how far fraud investigation extends, and now I'm excited that the lessons I'm learning in my new position, coupled with my experience in computer investigations, will present interesting new challenges for me, both now and in the future.

Coach: How did you prepare yourself to sit for the exam on-site? Did you spend any additional time studying after class each day?
I found that my professional experience helped me tremendously during the exams. Sure, there are some things that you simply have to learn, like the names of specific laws and such, but I also found that much of my experience (especially with prior courtroom testimony) helped me navigate much of the exam process. You can never fully prepare for exams like these, so I chose instead to absorb as much as I could during the review course to augment my experiences. 

Coach: Would you recommend this course to your colleagues?
I definitely would! It’s a great challenge.

Coach: How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?
I've been involved in the fight against crime in a number of formas for more than 20 years. Fraud can be considered less exciting than other forms of criminal investigation, but when you look at it in terms of fraud’s negative impact on people’s lives, then it lights a fire. 

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?
When I'm not working on a keyboard, I enjoy drumming, making wine, and WW2 model aircraft construction. It sounds strange, but there's something almost Zen-like about knowing the only thing I have to take care of some nights is painting a scale model spitfire or something . . . it takes my mind off computers! I'm also finishing a Master's program in Forensic Computing and Cybercrime Investigation in Dublin, Ireland. When that's done, I'm going to embark on learning some new programming skills. I'm a big fan of open source tools, and I like seeing how much I can accomplish just from a Linux command line.

Coach: Do you have any study tips or suggestions for aspiring CFEs?
The only thing I can suggest is to jump in and do it! Don't panic that you don't know everything; no one does. Do the best you can–you might be pleasantly surprised. I know I was!