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Chapter 9. Effective Interviewing and Interrogation. Critical Thinking Exercise.

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Chapter 9

Effective Interviewing and Interrogation

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Critical Thinking Exercise

A murderer is condemned to death. He has to choose between three rooms. The first is full of raging fires, the second is full of assassins with loaded guns, and the third is full of lions that haven’t eaten in 3 years. Which room is safest for him?

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From The Expert’s Perspective

Enhanced interrogation techniques

  • Enhanced interrogation techniques (e.g. torture) are of dubious value; interrogator is told what he wants to hear

  • Not every case can be solved

  • Adhere to high moral code, regardless of what is acceptable under current law

  • Ensure values we seek to protect are vigorously preserved

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Introduction to Interviews and Interrogations

  • Conducting thorough interviews and interrogations is often vital to resolution of case

  • Interviewing is the systematic questioning of a knowledgeable person in pursuit of details surrounding a forensic accounting issue

  • Interrogation involves the questioning of a subject or target to obtain evidence and to solicit a confession

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Interviews in Fraud Examinations

  • Interview in order of least culpable to most culpable

    • First, interview third party witnesses

    • Next, interview corroborative witnesses

    • If further investigation is warranted, interview suspected co-conspirators in alleged offense

  • In this fashion, fraud examiner has as much information as possible when prime target is interviewed

  • Admission-seeking interview or interrogation can be avoided if interviews clear target of offense

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Interviews in Fraudulent Financial Statements and Tax Returns

  • Investigator starts with suspected perpetrator

    • Document perpetrator’s claims that financial statements are not materially misstated

    • Therefore if auditor finds fraudulent financial reporting, auditor has caught perpetrator in a lie

  • Perpetrator makes 1 of 2 assumptions

    • Auditor or investigator won’t find the issue

    • Auditor or investigator won’t be skilled enough to unravel the underlying evidence

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Overview of the Interview and Interrogation Process Returns

  • Preparation and Planning

  • General Approach to Conducting Interviews

  • Interviews of Witnesses

  • Three Stages of Interviewing: Introduction, Body, Close

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Preparation and Planning Returns

  • Know as much as you can about witness, crime, victim, and possible perpetrators

  • Know what needs to be covered in interview

  • Be able to detect clues to deception

  • Interviewer should have understanding of offense under investigation

  • Consider witness’ background

  • Consider distractions when selecting location of interview

  • Venue should be private, ideally selected by interrogator and be a surprise, when possible

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General Approach to Conducting Interviews Returns

  • Interviewer should be able to see entire body of interview subject

  • Interviewer chair should be 6 feet in front of interviewee

  • Be respectful and professional at all times

  • Avoid language that may confuse interviewee

  • Avoid taking detailed notes

  • Key is to watch body language that suggests discomfort and deceit

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Interviews of Witnesses Returns

  • Start with background information

  • Organize questions in chronological order

  • Document witness’ connection to suspects, subjects or targets of the investigation

  • Document discussions between the witness and any subjects or targets

  • Determine if the witness is in possession of any pertinent documents

  • Elicit any opinions that the witness may have about events and acts under investigation

  • Determine if the witness has any other ideas that should be looked into, or other witnesses that would be helpful

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Three Stages of Interviewing: Introduction, Body and Close Returns

  • Introduction

    • Generally a professional non-confrontational tone

    • Greet interviewee and state reason for interview

    • Sets the tone for all interview types

    • Establish rapport with interviewee

    • Assess witness’ spirit of cooperation

    • Provides the beginnings of the baseline for assessment of misdirection and deceit

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Three Stages of Interviewing: Introduction, Body and Close Returns

  • Body

    • Facts and evidence of the case are reviewed with interviewee

    • Generally open-ended questions

    • Allow interviewee to completely answer question

    • Completely understand answers before moving on

    • Demonstrate patience and don’t interrupt interviewee

    • Focus on listening, gathering information, and watching for misdirection and deceit

    • Issues with checklists and pre-written questionnaires

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Three Stages of Interviewing: Introduction, Body and Close Returns

  • Close

    • Review and summarize important aspects of the interview

    • Clarify any questions regarding the interviewee’s responses

    • Attempt to end the interview on a positive note

    • Interviewer should leave the door open for future discussion

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Two Stages of Interrogations: Introduction and Admission-Seeking

  • Reserved for obtaining confessions from those believed to be culpable for the acts under examination

  • Two main phases

    • an introduction

    • the process of obtaining a confession to the acts

  • The process seeks to soften the target’s resistance to confessing by identifying a rationalization that is palatable to him. Rationalizations provide a morally justifiable reason for the target’s actions.

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Five Admission-Seeking Types of Interview and Interrogation Questions

  • Introductory

  • Informational

  • Closing

  • Assessment

  • Admission-Seeking

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Introductory Questions Admission-Seeking

Serve four primary purposes

  • Provide an introduction

  • Establish rapport

  • Establish theme of interview

  • Observe the person’s reactions

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Introductory Questions Admission-Seeking

General rules for introductory phase

  • Don’t interview more than one person at a time

  • Privacy

  • Ask non-sensitive questions

  • Get a commitment for assistance

  • Make a transitional statement

  • Seek continuous agreement

  • Do not promise confidentiality

  • Negotiations

  • Discussing the source of allegations

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Informational Questions Admission-Seeking

  • Fact gathering portion of interview

  • Three types of questions

    • Open

    • Closed

    • Leading

  • Question sequence should proceed from general to specific

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Informational Questions Admission-Seeking

  • Methodology

    • Begin with background questions

    • Observe verbal and nonverbal behavior

    • Ask non-leading (open) questions

    • Approach sensitive questions carefully

  • Dealing with difficult people

    • Do not react

    • Disarm the person

    • Change tactics

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Informational Questions Admission-Seeking

Volatile interviews

  • Two interviewers

  • Should be conducted on a surprise basis

  • Order of questions should be out of sequence

  • Hypothetical questioning

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Closing Questions Admission-Seeking

  • Reconfirming facts

    • Go over key facts

    • Don’t revisit all the information

  • Gathering additional facts

    • Ask if they know of other documents or witnesses that would be helpful

    • Provide opportunity to furnish relevant facts

  • Concluding the interview

    • Ask if they were treated fairly

    • Give interviewee final chance to add information

    • Leave door open to additional cooperation

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Assessment Questions Admission-Seeking

  • Establish credibility of the respondent

  • Used when previous statements are inconsistent or possibly deceptive

  • Norming or Calibrating

    • Observe behavior before critical questions

    • Primarily get verbal and nonverbal reactions

  • Methodology

    • Least to most sensitive

    • Basis should be explained before question is asked

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Interrogations: Admission-SeekingAdmission-Seeking Questions

  • Reserved for individuals who culpability is reasonably certain

  • Suspect becomes a subject

  • Posed in precise order

    • Clear an innocent person

    • Encourage culpable person to confess

  • 3 purposes

    • Distinguish innocent from the culpable

    • Obtain valid confession

    • Obtain written statement acknowledging the facts

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Interrogations: Admission-SeekingAdmission-Seeking Questions

  • Presence of outsiders

    • Usually not necessary to inform subject is entitled to have attorney present

    • Representatives shouldn’t ask questions or object

  • Miranda warnings

  • Theme Development

    • Convince respondent that confession is in their best interest

    • Offer morally acceptable reason for confessor’s behavior

    • Maximize sympathy and minimize perception of moral wrongdoing

    • Subjects guilt should already be assumed in the form of the question

    • Be careful of accusing innocent person of a crime

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Interrogations: Admission-SeekingAdmission-Seeking Questions

  • Steps in the admission-seeking interview

    • Accuse the subject of committing the offense

    • Observe reaction

    • Repeat accusation

    • Interrupt denials

    • Establish rationalization

    • Diffuse alibis

    • Present the alternative

    • Obtain the benchmark admission

    • Transition to the verbal confession

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The Signed Statement Admission-Seeking

  • Obtain written confession if possible

  • Written statement has greater credibility than oral confession

  • Discourages culpable person from later attempting to recant

  • Inclusions of written confession

    • Voluntary confessions

    • Intent

    • Approximate dates of offense

    • Approximate amounts of losses

    • Approximate number of instances

    • Willingness to cooperate

    • Excuse clause

    • Have the confessor read the statement

    • Truthfulness of statement

    • Preparing a signed statement

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Judging Deception Admission-Seeking

  • Physiology of Deception

  • Verbal Cues to Deception

  • Nonverbal Cues to Deception

  • Ability to Judge Deception

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Physiology of Deception Admission-Seeking

  • Lying produces stress

  • Human body will attempt to relieve stress through verbal and nonverbal cues

  • Draw inferences from interviewee’s behavior

  • Multiple forms of deceit

    • Outright lying

    • Omission of information

    • Misdirection

    • Attempts to manage interviewer’s perceptions

  • Physical environment can affect behavior

  • Personal bias to interviewer will affect behavior

  • Interviewee under the influence is unsuitable

  • Behavior of juveniles is unreliable

  • Carefully note ethnic and economic factors

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Verbal Cues to Deception Admission-Seeking

  • Overuse of respect

  • Increasingly weaker denials

  • Failure to deny

  • Avoidance of emotive words

  • Refusal to implicate other suspects

  • Tolerant attitudes

  • Reluctance to terminate interview

  • Feigned unconcern

  • Changes in speech patterns

  • Repetition of the question

  • Comments regarding interview

  • Selective memory

  • Making excuses

  • Oaths

  • Character testimony

  • Answering with a question

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Nonverbal Cues to Deception Admission-Seeking

  • Full body motions

  • Anatomical physical responses

  • Illustrators

  • Hands over the mouth

  • Manipulators

  • Fleeing positions

  • Crossing the arms

  • Reaction to evidence

  • Fake smiles

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Ability to Judge Deception Admission-Seeking

  • Identifying lies is challenging

  • Reasons that persons fail to identify lies

    • Tendency to believe people

    • Behaviors are incorrectly judged

    • Failure to recognize reliable cues to deception

    • Truthful behavior is easy to imitate with knowledge of behavioral cues

    • Deceitful behavior is actually response to stress not deceit

  • Ignore truthful behavioral cues

  • Clusters of behavioral cues are more suggestive of deceit

  • Cues should be timely

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Joe Wells’ Ten Commandments for Effective Interviews Admission-Seeking

  • Preparation is key to success

  • Think as you go

  • Watch nonverbal behavior

  • Set the tone for the interview

  • Set the pace for the interview

  • Keep quiet

  • Be straightforward

  • Patience

  • Circle back

  • Get it in writing

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Comprehensive Guidelines: Information Collected in Financial Interviews

  • Identification

  • Birth

  • Address during pertinent years

  • Occupation

  • General background

  • Financial institutions (business and personal)

  • Sources of income

  • Net income and expenditures

  • Liabilities

  • Business operations

  • Books and records

  • Business receipts