Asking the Right Questions about Fraud

If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.

– Albert Einstein

The normal human mind, as part of its social development process, is encouraged to find the right answers. It is not so easy to train a mind to ask the right questions.

This conflict can found in our place of work. We feel satisfaction, and are rewarded, if we have the answers to the questions that others ask. In the process of being ‘answer ready’, the left side of the brain becomes heavier than the right. We become target-driven, and focus less and less on developing a fresh set of questions which could challenge us to further drive improvement and innovation.

The Fraud Management function is no different. Being a revenue protection function in a large organization, it is expected to act similar to a small, but important organ in the human body.
Like the hormone levels of an organ, the health of a fraud management department is measured in terms of subjective financial targets – either monthly, quarterly or yearly. Corrective action is taken when the achievements are found to be ‘less than optimum’.

But, as an experienced doctor would say, if you want to be healthy, that begins with managing your lifestyle, not your hormone levels!

To stay healthy, we can ask ourselves important questions. “Am I eating right?” “Am I sleeping right?” “Am I sitting right?” “Am I exercising right?” These go a long way toward guaranteeing you a healthy life. Periodic check-ups then become a method to confirm your good health rather than just means to detect illness or deficiencies.

Keeping healthy is a continuous process – whether for the human body or fraud management. It is actually a practice, rather than just a function.

To establish a continuously improving fraud practice in your organization, it is essential to keep asking relevant and timely questions across the following eight pillars of this practice:

  • Influence
  • Organization
  • People
  • Process
  • Tools
  • Knowledge Management
  • Coverage
  • Continuous Improvement

While the questions could be an organization, risk or region specific, I personally always start with the following:


  • Is our FM function in the driving seat, or is it in a secondary role and working as a support function?
  • How should we enhance the influence of our FM function?
  • How do we keep showcasing enhanced value from FM function?
  • How do we extend our internal and external interfaces, and make the existing interfaces stronger?


  • How do we ensure fraud awareness keeps pace with the upgrading business dynamics?
  • How do we enhance internal and external collaboration with the FM function?
  • How do we get a higher return on the investment made in the FM function?
  • How might we further reduce the fraud impact on the bottom line?
  • How might we make our fraud management practice more proactive?


  • Is it better to acquire new human resources, or to develop existing resources?
  • How do we safeguard ourselves from attrition?
  • Is our team structure agile enough while following industry standards?
  • Do we have all the required roles and are the responsibilities clearly defined?
  • Are we under or over staffed?


  • Are my processes effective and easily exercisable?
  • Are my processes future ready?
  • Are my processes agile enough to adapt to any changes with acceptable TAT?
  • Are we adopting and implementing industry best practices?
  • What parts of my processes can be automated?


  • Is the FMS adapted to the business environment?
  • How do I ensure that the FMS is fed accurate, complete and timely data?
  • Are my fraud controls effective and efficient? How do I reduce false positives?
  • How do I ensure 100% automated fraud risk coverage?
  • What new tool capabilities are needed to prepare for future risks?
  • Are we ready for an enormous data surge likely to be seen over next few years? How do we benefit from that surge?
  • Are we constantly learning from the industry in terms of fraud detection and prevention methods?

Knowledge Management

  • Is there sufficient attention on upgrading to the required skill sets?
  • How do we enhance resource competency and knowledge for both current and future services?
  • Is our team keeping pace with the constant mutation of fraud?
  • Is our team using its tools effectively and efficiently?
  • Is our team knowledgeable and comfortable with processes?
  • What are the top 5 areas of learning for the whole fraud function?


  • Are we aware of all the fraud risks we are exposed to? What is our current coverage?
  • Do we know the gaps in terms of fraud risks coverage? How can we improve?
  • What is our strategy to mitigate fraud risks introduced by new products and services?
  • Are we ready for fast converging cross industry environments, and the risks they introduce?
  • What is our stand on risks that only affect customers and partners? How relevant are they for our business? Is our current stand obsolete?

Continuous Improvement

  • What is our performance management strategy?
  • Do we have effective KPIs? Are these business relevant?
  • How can we continuously improve the fraud function’s effectiveness and maturity?
  • What metrics should I use to measure the health of the overall FM function?
  • Are we conducting sufficient and periodic RCA and decision analysis?
  • How do we gather accumulated wisdom and actionable intelligence for improvement?

These questions can generate a healthy discussion within your organization. They may give you insights into the health of your current fraud practice. More importantly, they may also lead to more detailed introspective sessions, encouraging your team to develop better and more effective questions.

Richard Saul Wurman said:

In school, we’re rewarded for having the answer, not for asking a good question

That is because our schoolteachers know the answers, and want us to learn them. Life after school is not so straightforward. To remain healthy and grow wise, we must ask the right questions.

This article was originally published on the Subex blog. It has been reproduced with their permission.

Abhijeet Singh
Abhijeet Singh
Abhijeet is a Principal Consultant at Subex. He specializes in telecom fraud management and his experience covers fraud operations management, consulting, risk and health assessments, business development and analytics. Outside his professional life, Abhijeet is a blogger, tech enthusiast and a traveler.