$2.6 Million Federal Grant to Enhance One-of-a-Kind SU Partnership to Investigate and Curb Elder Financial and High-Tech Fraud

SU Fraud students with Worcester County officials
David 韦伯 and SU Fraud Program students join members of the Worcester County Sheriff's Office and Ocean Pines Police Department

索尔斯堡, 医学博士,2017年, 92岁的威廉·戈蒂埃(William Gautier)收到银行的通知,他的银行开出了一张长期支票, 由于资金不足,很少使用的账户无法兑现. A teller noticed suspicious activity on another account, as well.

That notification led to the discovery that some $80,000 had been removed from the combined accounts, little by little, without his knowledge. 进一步调查显示,还有人以他的名义申请了欺诈性的信用卡. Though two suspects were sought for questioning, criminal justice officials in Anne Arundel County, MD, eventually dropped the case when it was determined the victim was too mentally frail to testify on his own behalf.

在这种情况下,大部分资金是通过保险收回的. 然而,据报道,许多老年诈骗的受害者就没有这么幸运了 大卫·P. 韦伯他是lol赛事竞猜(Salisbury University)会计学临床助理教授. Perdue School of Business.

He is hoping a recent $2.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will help change those odds for some local senior citizens with the help of SU students. The funding will allow the University to expand its Fraud and Forensic Accounting Certificate Program with an eye toward providing new opportunities for students to assist Worcester County law enforcement officials in the fight against elder financial and high-tech fraud.

“To our knowledge, 这是全国唯一的欺诈体验学习项目,韦伯说, 他去年被克里斯·海泽任命为特别调查员, state’s attorney for Worcester County, to further the pilot program.

“We are excited to expand our partnership with SU’s Certificate Program in Fraud and Forensic Accounting to continue our efforts to prevent fraud and victimization of vulnerable adults in Worcester County,海塞尔说. “This federal grant funding will allow us to focus even more dedicated resources on issues of education and awareness, 并在复杂的金融欺诈调查中为伍斯特县的执法部门提供协助.”

“This is an excellent opportunity to further our partnership with our state’s attorneys office to help identify and combat criminal activity against our vulnerable adult population,” said Matt Crisafulli, sheriff of Worcester County. “与州立大学的这种团队合作方式为lol赛程的社区提供了更多关于犯罪行为的教育和意识. 有了这种伙伴关系,lol赛程社区中的弱势成年人变得更加安全.”  

Students Provide Assistance

目前, 20名学生在伍斯特县的州检察官办公室实习, 为老年受害者和面临金融欺诈风险的人提供外展和预防服务, 并协助伍斯特县警长办公室的侦探进行相关刑事调查.

“After law enforcement concludes its investigations, our student interns assist prosecutors with preparing for trial, including creating visual displays condensing voluminous financial records and other pieces of evidence into easy-to-understand exhibits for juries to consider, and even testify in court as needed,海塞尔说. “It’s my hope that students find the experience rewarding and that after graduation some will continue to serve and protect the most vulnerable in our society by choosing careers in law enforcement.”

同时,该伙伴关系为执法部门提供了所需的资源, students have experienced some roadblocks, including a lack of information technology resources to securely house personally identifiable information (bank records, 等.),也缺乏覆盖该县近700英里范围的交通工具.

韦伯希望这笔拨款能通过购买新的汽车解决这些问题, 安全的笔记本电脑, phones and software, and a dedicated vehicle for the program. 此外,政府还将拨款为学生提供更专业的数据分析培训, cryptocurrency investigations, and cybersecurity and computer forensics.

“It removes a lot of hoops,” said senior accounting and information systems major, 以及来自埃利科特市的欺诈和法务会计未成年学生加勒特·扎沃德尼亚克, MD. “这将简化流程,让一切变得更容易,” including allowing students to securely share information and resources with a goal of enhancing the program’s effectiveness.

除了, the grant will fund seven new positions, 包括三名经验丰富的刑事调查员和三名受害人证人案件工作者, who will partner with SU’s investigative interns to provide social outreach and crime prevention resources for victims and potential victims of elder fraud, 以及一个新的行政助理职位,协助韦伯进行案件管理.

Scholarship Funding

Perhaps most importantly, 该补助金为该计划的学生实习生提供新的奖学金. 目前, through SU’s ShoreCorps AmeriCorps program, students earn some $1,在州检察官办公室的一年实习中获得了400美元, in exchange for at least 300 hours of service. 该基金预计将为每位实习生增加4500美元的奖学金.

“许多学生在校外继续做第二份工作来支付学费, 书, 食物, housing and transportation,韦伯说. “Many also take out student loans, which reduces the likelihood of SU Fraud Program graduates pursuing public service after graduation due to the lower available salaries in the public sector. This scholarship will allow students to devote greater time and attention to the fraud program and their pending criminal investigations rather than working at another job.”

Looking toward the next few years, 韦伯 also hopes the opportunities this grant provides will encourage more students to consider careers in fraud examination and public service.

A new partnership with SU’s Glenda Chatham and Robert G. Clarke Honors College will provide honors credit for students participating in a financial fraud or business ethics course designed to complement the experiential learning component of the Fraud Program, starting in Fall 2023. 一门新的新生体验课程也计划在2024年秋季推出. Grant funding is provided to develop these courses, 测试这样做是否会增加学生对公共服务的兴趣.

“It is our expectation that a significant number of Clarke Honors students would subsequently enroll in the fraud experiential program as upper-class students, especially if financial incentives are provided,韦伯说.

He hopes that expected increase could help turn SU into a national leader in curbing a nationwide issue with recruitment and turnover of professional investigators tasked with investigating elder financial crimes.

“The skill set needed is that of a meta-discipline, with knowledge of varying subjects such as accounting; financial crime; the legal system; and medical, social and behavioral issues involving older persons,他说. “lol赛程希望为未来增加合格的金融和高科技犯罪调查人员的队伍.”

Preying on the Elderly

未来的, 韦伯补充道, 随着技术的不断发展,对犯罪分子来说,以老年人为猎物是否尤其有利可图. Worcester County’s status as a prominent retirement destination, coupled with a high unemployment rate, 会让那里的老年人特别容易受到欺诈吗.

“While Worcester County law enforcement does have the ability to forensically capture cell phones or computers for evidence preservation in court, there is no current state or local law enforcement resource on the Eastern Shore to assist elder victims with removal of malware to prevent future victimization, short of wiping the device,他说. “年长的受害者通常不愿意擦拭手机,因为里面有珍贵的照片, documents or information for which there is no backup saved.

“最近你.S. 人口普查数据估计,伍斯特县的大多数家庭都有电脑和宽带互联网接入, but anecdotal experience with elder financial and high-tech fraud referrals through the SU Fraud Program indicates that the elder victims do not have security software, 能够备份自己的设备,或者知道如何避免在互联网上成为受害者.”

正因为如此, Worcester County law enforcement officials have responded to reports of cyber fraud at the same addresses multiple times in recent years, 韦伯说. lol赛程将继续推广和教育SU学生的老年电脑用户, he foresees those repeated calls declining, potentially resulting in operational savings for the county.

“As a result of this one-of-a-kind program, 州立大学的学生可以获得真实世界的调查经验和法务会计技能, but they are also performing a service in our community by showing senior citizens how to protect themselves from future victimization,海塞尔说.

“This program isn’t just ‘Who stole your money?’ noted Zawodniak. “It’s also ‘How can we help you prevent that in the future?’”


他说:“据统计,只有大约5%的老年人财务欺诈被报告。. “While we want to reduce repeat victimization, part of our job is also to encourage this vulnerable population to make those calls to the police if something like this happens to them. We can’t investigate it if we don’t know it’s happening.”

Fraud Investigators of Tomorrow

韦伯 also hopes outreach from SU’s interns will give seniors the education they need to avoid those situations while also building the fraud investigation workforce of tomorrow. 所有去年的毕业生在上最后一节SU课之前都已经找到了工作, and nearly half were hired into federal or local public service, 他指出.

Though the program is offered through the Perdue School, enrollment is open to non-business-related majors.

“It’s important to have different perspectives on cases,” said Kaylynn Boswell, a senior management major from Brandywine, MD. “It’s not just about business.”

“It’s not just for accounting majors,” Zawodniak agreed, adding that a sociology or social work major, 例如, 能在项目的高级教育部分发挥作用吗.

而这笔拨款预计将对伍斯特县的案件产生直接影响, 学生获得的经验将有益于伍斯特县以外的地区, including adjacent Somerset (MD) and Accomack (VA) counties, 韦伯说.

“欺诈调查和执法实际上是一件本地化的事情, so it’s different in every place,他说. “但各地面临的挑战都是一样的:资源永远都不够. 有了这笔赠款,lol赛程希望不仅在伍斯特县,还能创造公平的竞争环境.”

The first case involving SU student investigative work, 在维吉尼亚州, resulted in a guilty plea earlier this semester. 马里兰州卡罗琳县的第二起案件定于11月开庭审理. For students involved behind the scenes in these cases, the court decisions can be as exciting as they are gratifying.

“We don’t kick down doors,” said Madison Friz, 来自赛克斯维尔的高级信息系统专业和欺诈和法务会计辅修, MD. “We get to see all of our hard work pay off in the courtroom.”

While most students in the program appreciate that the experience they receive likely will help them land a job after graduation (Zawodniak already has accepted an offer with a top-10 accounting firm, 而Boswell和Friz正在权衡他们在公共和私营部门的选择), 对他们来说,欺诈调查和法务会计比潜在的薪水更重要.

“韦伯教授在优先服务和帮助他人方面做得很好,”博斯韦尔说. “参与比获得学位更重要的事情本身就是一种回报.”

For more information about SU’s Fraud Program, visit the 程序的网页.

Learn more about opportunities to Make Tomorrow Yours at the 苏的网站.