Undertaking an investigation - Gathering evidence

We’ll now look at another area in which you are most likely to be involved, namely the gathering and recovery of relevant material.

The highlighted points on the route map below are those we will be looking at in this step.

A routemap outling the steps to gather and recover relevant material. The steps go as follows: NFIB referrals process > Case acceptance > Criminal vs civil routes > Developing a case theory > Resource management > Making and recording decisions > Case management > Partnership and cross sector working > Investigation plans > Working with victims > Working with witnesses > Covert investigations > Gathering relevant material (highlighted) > Forensic investigative opportunities > International investigations > Use of subject matter experts > Identifying and managing the suspect > Developing a media strategy > Material recovery (hihglighted) > Court > Charge. Click to view in a separate window

Gathering relevant material

Gathering relevant material is one of the most important aspects of fraud investigation and features in the FIM​.

In many fraud-related cases, the defence will closely examine how the material has been gathered and how disclosure has been handled throughout the investigation​. The investigator requires a comprehensive understanding of both the legislation and the procedure for gathering the material encountered during an investigation. It is, therefore, vital that they follow the appropriate procedures for gathering, storing and disclosing material. Gathering the relevant evidence is the easy part, making sure that it stands up to the tests of the defence is the true challenge.

In order to gather the relevant material appropriately, the following steps need to be followed.

Step 1 Identify offence type​
Step 2 Identify the nature of the material
Step 3 Identify the location of material, access to material and who could help in gaining access to material

The golden hour

The principle of the golden hour holds that effective early action can result in securing significant material (including digital data). This material would otherwise be lost to the investigation through attrition. ​

Following up obvious lines of inquiry provides significant benefits to both the investigative team and the victim who needs to identify vulnerabilities and protect themselves against future attacks.​

In criminal investigations, the term ‘golden hour’, therefore, relates to securing the maximum amount of material, minimising material attrition and maximising the opportunities to identify the offender.

Fast track actions

In fraud cases, the investigator should consider taking the following steps to reduce material attrition:​

  • Record a statement from the victim (consider method if intimidated or vulnerable)​
  • Secure relevant digital material and records held by the victim​
  • Secure material held by third parties ​
  • Secure material held by the suspect relating to the fraud​
  • Consider passive data-gathering opportunities (eg, CCTV)​

Material recovery

When recovering the material, the following points from the material recovery process diagram need to be taken into consideration.

Material recovery process diagram. Runs as follows: What (suspicions/offences), Who (Victim/suspect/witness), Where (location of relevant material) When (order of recovery), How (method/power) Why (Policy/rationale) Click to expand

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This article is from the free online course:

Fraud Investigation: Making a Difference

Coventry University