Great Women In Fraud

Episode 35 Bethmara Kessler

June 08, 2021 Kelly Paxton, CFE Episode 35
Great Women In Fraud
Episode 35 Bethmara Kessler
Show Notes Transcript

Welcome back. We have Bethmara Kessler today. Such a wonderful, as usual, episode, with another Great Women in Fraud. We bond over our love for the anti-fraud community among all things career. This week starts the speed round so you immediately know the guest even better. You are going to learn the technical term for shopaholic. The Kevin Bacon 6 degrees is in full force. No spoilers.  Fraud has been up close and personal to Bethmara and her family growing up.  She even witnessed fraud first hand while working at a card shop as a youngster.  Again, I consider myself so lucky to get to have these conversations with our guests.  Let’s go.

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Kelly Paxton: Okay, today we have Bethmara Kessler and right off the bat I am going to say. Great women in fraud is a really, really small world because Abby Ellin who was just on Great Women in Fraud, all of a sudden says.

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Kelly Paxton: She was looking and she's like wait Bethmara Kessler, was she my camp counselor? and then I reached out to you and sure enough. Like is that freaky or what so tell us about your camp counselor before we get into your fraud career.

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Bethmara Kessler: That was hysterical and I actually just listened to your podcast with Abby which everyone should listen to, because it is really fabulous first of all you're both the energy level on it was.

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Bethmara Kessler: off the charts and I just I really appreciated the insights I think.

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Bethmara Kessler: You know kind of how Abby's experiences in her book was interesting and your take on, it was as well, so great podcast please listen to it, yes it's true I was Abby's camp counselor many, many years ago.

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Bethmara Kessler: And she shared on your podcast that she remembered that we were great buddies and something had happened, and that somehow I got mad at her for something and then I got mean and and and and kind of had her do some.

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Bethmara Kessler: We used to call it OD, but it was you know kind of things that she needed, you know we kind of on duty, and you know kind of watches for some of the younger kids and things like that she yeah.

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Bethmara Kessler: Anyway, I felt terrible that her memory of me was that she swears that her memory of me was more than that we were buddies and and.

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Bethmara Kessler: And I think she enjoyed me as a counselor I enjoyed her as a camper she was pretty awesome, but it was really cool to be reconnected so thank you for that Kelly.

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Kelly Paxton: I just think that it's so like what are the chances, I mean you know Kevin Bacon's I always talk about Kevin Bacon six degrees in the fraud world it's like two degrees, whether you're a victim or an investigator.

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Bethmara Kessler: I do have my six degrees of Kevin Bacon it actually was an up close and personal I was in the music business and doing audit and compliance and all kinds of cool stuff like that.

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Bethmara Kessler: And I got the opportunity to go to the grammys and after the grammys you get to go to an after grammy party and my first after grammy party, I went to I completely embarrassed myself and my biggest embarrassment was with Kevin Bacon so what happened is I was at this event and.

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Bethmara Kessler: I just you know I had never been in a situation where all these famous people were real and in front of you and growing up.

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Bethmara Kessler: I used to when I watched TV.

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Bethmara Kessler: For some reason I would think that people could see you through the TV, so I would always you know, be very, very careful, you know, and then I was like, no, no, people are like no they can't see you through the TV.

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Bethmara Kessler: So then, it flipped in my mind that people from TV can't see you so there, I am standing at this party and Kevin Bacon who's actually a lot taller than I realized was standing with Fred Schneider from the B 52s.

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Bethmara Kessler: If anybody remembers the B 52s and Fred Schneider was in this lime green suit that was just neon.

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Bethmara Kessler: And the thing that just struck me was that he was so short because he was standing with Kevin Bacon it was so much taller.

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Bethmara Kessler: And I turned to my friend, like oh my gosh Look how short bridge night or is he's pretty standing on that green suit Kevin Bacon, of course, or an earshot comes right up to me and he goes, excuse me, we can hear you.

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Bethmara Kessler: yeah it was just a moment but anyway back to.

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Kelly Paxton: The planet so funny see, so now we even have an actual Kevin Bacon connection.

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Bethmara Kessler: We do.

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Kelly Paxton: yeah yeah  we are starting a new little thing on great women fraud and it's like the speed round and lots of podcasts do it, but I was like thinking how am I going to do a speed round so Bethmara is the first one okay get ready.

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Bethmara Kessler: guinea pig.

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Kelly Paxton: MacIntosh or PC, MAC or PC.

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Bethmara Kessler: MAC all the way.

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Kelly Paxton: Yes, okay.

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Kelly Paxton: Who embezzled better men or women.

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Bethmara Kessler: Women.

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Bethmara Kessler: So what happens is men when they embezzle men tend to go, big or go home they have they demonstrate a little more hubris in their embezzlement.

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Bethmara Kessler: But when they are just so much craft you're at it, and when you look at some of the major embezzler is over time, especially some of the women.

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Bethmara Kessler: I think that they surprise their organizations, the most because they get themselves into position where they're so trusted you know whether it's  Rita Crundwell, and you know, in the city of Dixon.

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Bethmara Kessler: Where you know the mayor just could not believe after 20 something years that she had you know that she had gotten away with you know stealing so much money from the city accounts and over $56 million.

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Bethmara Kessler: And and was able to cover it, I think, women are much more artful as being good fraudsters another one of my famous favorite ones is.

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Bethmara Kessler: Sue Sachdeva from Koss headphone company.

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Bethmara Kessler: matter of fact, I live in Chicago now, and this past week, and I was doing a little road trip out through Wisconsin and there I'm driving on the road, and I see Koss headquarters and I get all excited I'm like.

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Bethmara Kessler: that's where she would go to work and then I pass me Kwan where she lived in my next question you still have but, but the idea I really think that women are just.

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Bethmara Kessler: Or, or can sustain it for longer periods of time because of some of there in positions where people trust them more for some reason.

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Kelly Paxton: yeah yeah Oh, I see we are like partners in like yeah pink collar crime.

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Bethmara Kessler: But when they do it, they go big.

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Kelly Paxton: And then, this is the I thing this is a fun question let's hope it works if you were to do an interview or even say go out to coffee or have dinner, who is the most famous crook or law enforcement officer, that you would want to have dinner or interview.

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Bethmara Kessler: Oh, that one is so incredibly hard so I absolutely consider myself a student of fraud and I love reading cases and.

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Bethmara Kessler: I there's so many people who I would would love to talk to Sue Sachdeva  has actually been on my mind for a long time.

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Bethmara Kessler: her case was interesting because of some of the dynamics of it, so the dynamics that really intrigued me about her case.

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Bethmara Kessler: Was that she had actually tried it early on, so for those who don't know the case.

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Bethmara Kessler: Sue stole over $34 million from Koss, I believe it was more they were only able to go back five years because of an old accounting system that didn't have good audit trails.

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Bethmara Kessler: And she was the thing that was fueling the allegedly feeling her her her need to steal.

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Bethmara Kessler: was something that she actually tried to get the courts to agree to a mental defect on, and it was called oniomania for those.

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Bethmara Kessler: of you that don't know what oniomania many is some of you may have it, we all do shopaholic is actually what she claimed she was.

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Bethmara Kessler: And when the FBI had gone to our House to actually so so basically what happened was it was the end of it was in December of 2009 when Amex American express realize that her personal credit card was getting paid through a bank account from Koss from the company and.

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Bethmara Kessler: What was really interesting is when Michael Koss had shared with the FBI and they first had the opportunity to sit down with Sue.

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Bethmara Kessler: She allegedly like right away came out and said yep I did it, I was just waiting for Michael to come in, or the auditors or somebody she didn't really speak much about the case which is, which is unique, because many fraudsters once they get caught once they do their time they're actually.

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Bethmara Kessler: Some of them for rehabilitative purposes, some because they really regret what they did another is because that's how they make money once they.

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Bethmara Kessler: Once they've been incarcerated but but but sue's been very, very quiet and the thing that really struck me about her case.

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Bethmara Kessler: Was that the Marshal seized over 22,000 items from her home that she allegedly bought with these ill gotten gains and the thing that was kind of funny about the case was not funny.

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Bethmara Kessler: Her husband allegedly did not know so  was living in a house with all of these things, and he did not know, and she actually would steal.

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Bethmara Kessler: The story goes that she would scale petty cash to pay somebody to stay at her house to get all the deliveries of these things that she would buy.

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Bethmara Kessler: And then the guy had to actually find places to hide them in the House so that her husband wouldn't see, nothing looked out of the ordinary.

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Bethmara Kessler: And that story ended up you know kind of benefiting her in the long run, because what happened was.

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Bethmara Kessler: When the marshals had asked her if she was willing to turn over all of the things that she bought she said yes, however, I don't know where everything is.

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Bethmara Kessler: This guy you know, he told me he was getting some storage lockers and it turned out, he decided, he was going to play storage wars and hold back one of the locations of the lockers.

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Bethmara Kessler: From the feds and then they ended up going after him she ended up you know kind of.

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Bethmara Kessler: You know kind of going against them a trial and ended up getting some some time shaved off of her sentence for it, but I just find her story so interesting and I would love nothing more than to be able to you know kind of pick her brain and and really understand what was going on there.

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Kelly Paxton: So she's one of like my top five, and you know what else is really interesting I don't know if you know this part she actually got like a citation.

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Kelly Paxton: Because they she had people that would come and like take the box take this stuff out of the boxes and then they were going, and I think she was dropping it like a park or school ground and they saw her name, so they wrote her like a littering citation.

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Kelly Paxton: Well, and it was just kind of crazy so yeah yeah you know, this is another interesting thing is, I have is I called him my felon friends and they're like you know they go out on the road they talk about their mistakes and what they did, and everything like that.

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Kelly Paxton: You, I have a harder time finding women felon friends than male felon friends.

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Bethmara Kessler: yeah I that's actually it's it's really interesting I mean, even if you look at.

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Bethmara Kessler: The ACFE, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners has a convicted fraudster each year that they invite to the conference to you know to kind of talk about things from the fraudsters respective.

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Bethmara Kessler: Occasionally there'll be women, they will be con they've had Diane Cattani, but most of the time it's men.

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Bethmara Kessler: yeah a lot of men.

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Kelly Paxton: yeah yeah I saw Diane Cattani she was like the first pink collar criminal through the ACFE that I, like you know reached out to and everything like that and I don't.

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Kelly Paxton: I don't know why that is  I mean I, of course, have some sort of you know, like you know bedside psychology as to why it is that yeah that's interesting that you notice that also.

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Bethmara Kessler: yeah i'm not sure you know, I think, women are and again that's so many generalizations everybody's individual and unique and why people commit fraud is individual and the unique.

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Bethmara Kessler: And how they do it is individual and unique to them, although it may be the same tactics other people that but I do find that.

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Bethmara Kessler: You know that there is a different kind of thought pattern in all the cases that I've investigated over the years I do see a difference in the way.

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Bethmara Kessler: You know kind of men engage with and commit fraud, and you know and deal with the.

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Bethmara Kessler: You know when it's discovered versus how women do and there's more embarrassment in I find in that women are you know tend to be a little bit more embarrassed and that's why they may keep a little tamp down and men actually.

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Bethmara Kessler: Almost in some ways I've had so many guys that over the years that I've dealt with that have almost felt like it was a badge of honor that they got away with what they did for as long as they did you know what I mean.

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Kelly Paxton: So I know you said you weren't a big book reader but you're a big content connoisseur so have you read this book why they do it.

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Bethmara Kessler: No, I have not, I have not my content consumption, believe it or not, I love reading indictments and plea agreements.

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Bethmara Kessler: I can sit and in cases it's like one of my favorite recently was I don't know if you gotten to read about the Wells Fargo all the Wells Fargo documents, so the OCC the Office of Comptroller of Currency has been dealing with pursuing a lot of the leaders.

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Bethmara Kessler: That were part of the Bank at the time the fake account scandals and all that stuff and happened and the interesting thing about, that is.

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Bethmara Kessler: They didn't only go against the usual suspects, so they were actually imposing civil fines, not just on the CEO and stuff like that, but the auditor and the risk officer and the HR person in general counsel those folks we're all getting.

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Bethmara Kessler: You know we're all getting find which I was very happy to see you know kind of given what had happened.

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Bethmara Kessler: But the charging documents from the OCC if you haven't read them and you want to see you know just kind of the way in which culture.

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Bethmara Kessler: You know, you can create a breeding ground for fraud and actually promote it. It's a really, really good good good read but that's the content, I consume I just.

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Kelly Paxton: I did not know about that part, I am going to have to go and Pacer and get some of those.

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Kelly Paxton: Documents because I do love reading those two you know who does a really good job with going to pacer the federal online court, you know is Mark Nigrini.

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Bethmara Kessler: Oh yeah yeah he's.

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Kelly Paxton: Like yeah he does a great job also of putting that in there and I don't use Pacer near as much as I should because sometimes it is just absolutely delightful you're just like oh my God.

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Bethmara Kessler: Quite honestly, you don't even need to go into Pacer if you just look up.

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Bethmara Kessler: You know kind of the charging it once a charging documents become public or an indictment or play agreements become public.

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Bethmara Kessler: You can usually access it off of either the DOJ website, or you know there it'll just or the OCC website.

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Bethmara Kessler: But those those links are accessible to folks and fairly easy to find I just like to put ticklers out for myself I'm sure you do the same, where you know, like keywords that that kind of come up so that and that's how I kind of consume a lot of my material just.

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Kelly Paxton: Who would have ever thought that the OCC would put out some clever stuff.

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Bethmara Kessler: working documents of the Wells Fargo case just where my I mean it just because it had a lot of there was a lot of.

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Bethmara Kessler: You know they interviewed a lot of people as part of their investigation and they had quotes from people senior people in the organization and people, you know throughout the ranks.

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Bethmara Kessler: And I mean everything from the hazing the physical hazing they would make people run a gauntlet if they didn't hit their numbers in certain branches and just you know that the risk of actually Carrie Tolstedt, who was the head of the retail bank she.

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Bethmara Kessler: Even when instructed and legally and.

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Bethmara Kessler: You know kind of legally required to disclose the extent of the fake account scandal and all the stuff that was going on to the board she still created falsified documents and then in to mislead.

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Bethmara Kessler: It was just you know just mind numbing to see to see just you know how defiant the leaders of that organization were how deficient the auditors were.

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Bethmara Kessler: You know the, the head of audit ended up getting hit with a pretty bad fine because they.

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Bethmara Kessler: gave glowing reviews in terms of the controls over incentive COMP and other things in the commercial bank and they didn't have a basis for that.

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Bethmara Kessler: They were basically ignoring all the red flags and you know just giving readings that they knew people would argue with and that would make people feel good.

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Kelly Paxton: Wells Fargo that ethical gift that keeps on giving that's what I always refer to.

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Kelly Paxton: My.

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Kelly Paxton: father in law had accounts opened rest in peace, but my father in law had accounts open.

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Bethmara Kessler: Oh yeah actually had experienced the pressure firsthand I was living in Florida and.

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Bethmara Kessler: I remember, I was every time I'd go to the drive thru.

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Bethmara Kessler: For to do any kind of banking, they would try to talk to me about my accounts and I finally said to them at one point I am about to pull out all my money, because this is really harassing and annoying.

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Bethmara Kessler: Put a note in my account never to question me about whether one new account whether want to sit down with a banker, you know all the eight is great, you know type things that they.

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Bethmara Kessler: were trying to do, the thing that's sad, is there a lot of great people at Wells Fargo that you know some some people who you know got caught up other people that chose to leave because they just didn't couldn't be part of.

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Bethmara Kessler: You know the the you know kind of complicit in the process it's a really, really sad situation.

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Bethmara Kessler: Because you know you think about just how that reputation or that damage has continued to linger they've been through pending three CEOs and stomp John Stumpf and it just it's been a really, really sad situation I hate to see that happen to an organization.

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Kelly Paxton: yeah oh yeah I mean I can some of the stories that I've read and I've heard I just I feel for these people, and you know I think they said they have 5000 whistleblowers whistleblowing reports and I just like how did you not you know oh boy.

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Bethmara Kessler: did actually they had and you'll see in the OCC charging documents they had data analytics that were identifying all the potential for fraudulent activity, and it was just so overwhelming that they decided to dial it down so that they wouldn't get as many alerts.

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Kelly Paxton: Oh, my God it's just yeah I I had.

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Kelly Paxton: family members who wanted to open they needed to open a joint account and they're like well let's just do it, you know dad's bank and i'm like no.

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Kelly Paxton: And my husband was like.

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Kelly Paxton: Oh Come on, and I'm like are you kidding me they opened a false account for your dad and you want to continue this like I just was like absolutely not and then my sister-in-law later and she's dealing with the estate.

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Kelly Paxton: And Wells Fargo is torturing her she's like well, thank goodness that Kelly said no, because we still be ongoing so we went to a small credit union and they're thrilled as punch because.

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Kelly Paxton: yeah my sister in law literally we got a check for like 32 cents and we didn't cash it and they would torture her because who's going to cash a check for 32 cents so yeah oh my God, so one of the things best bar and I actually got to meet in person like I think it was.

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Kelly Paxton: I'm not sure, because the world is live.

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Kelly Paxton: in Florida, I think it was Tampa yes and.

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Kelly Paxton: And I got to see Bethmara speak and I'd seen you speak at a ACFE, but like in a big group, so this was a smaller much more intimate group, and it was wonderful and she showed up in her shoes.

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Kelly Paxton: And I think I remember the red so they were red converse now you apparently have progressed to crocs during COVID.

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Bethmara Kessler: you're supposed to tell my secret, you know she it's funny she's always been a thing for me, I never realized this about myself, because I am a fashion photo and I don't really you know kind of.

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Bethmara Kessler: it's not about engaging in the clothes it many years ago, when I started my career, I was in public accounting.

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Bethmara Kessler: And it was at a time where uniforms were kind of mandatory so women had to wear skirt suits you couldn't even wear trousers suits at the time.

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Bethmara Kessler: And so I was wearing pantyhose and skirt suits and commuting into Manhattan and I needed to wear sneakers and you know I comfortable footwear.

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Bethmara Kessler: So I started expressing my rebellion to my uniform by wearing crazy shoes and crazy socks, and it just made me feel better.

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Bethmara Kessler: Yes, I've kept it over the years, I went through a very long phase of Doc Martens, I have a big collection of those I have a huge collection of converse that I still actively were but yeah for speed and comfort crocs have started dominating my wardrobe postcode it through coven.

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Kelly Paxton: So, have you heard of Francesca Gino at Harvard in for converse.

00:21:31.200 --> 00:21:31.800
Kelly Paxton: theory.

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Bethmara Kessler: what's her to know, I do not what's her Converse.

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Kelly Paxton: So she did a study and it turns out that the Professor that I believe it was a female Professor that showed up in Converse was taken more seriously than when she showed up in regular shoes, she was valued more.

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Kelly Paxton: And she's a behavioral economist and.

00:21:54.090 --> 00:22:08.220
Kelly Paxton: psycho or not behavioral economics and behavioral science and she did this study and it was that sort of uniqueness that companies literally valued and paid more for So if you are ahead of the curve.

00:22:08.370 --> 00:22:19.020
Bethmara Kessler: The interesting thing is my last role and core corporate Well, first of all throughout my corporate career, I always you know kind of leaned into my crazy footwear.

00:22:19.320 --> 00:22:32.790
Bethmara Kessler: And because you know I spent a lot of my career as an auditor, which you know auditors are usually the people, nobody wants to see and I had to do something to make myself a little more accessible my.

00:22:33.960 --> 00:22:44.460
Bethmara Kessler: lesson for me that it was kind of something that happened early in my career it's funny I was working for a music company I just started working for music company.

00:22:45.090 --> 00:22:57.840
Bethmara Kessler: And I was working at their corporate offices in New York, and it was at Carnegie hall tower and everybody would dress in suits and it was a corporate office, so I had my suits and I was dressing in my suits.

00:22:58.440 --> 00:23:08.970
Bethmara Kessler: And my boss, who was the head of audit said to me hey I need you to go out to California there's a an audit that's going on, if one of our record companies.

00:23:09.450 --> 00:23:19.350
Bethmara Kessler: And the finance director is ready to send the team home and it's not going well, could you go out there and take care of it and I'm like okay sure.

00:23:20.160 --> 00:23:33.300
Bethmara Kessler: So I flew out to California and I get there first thing in the morning and I run to my hotel and I change into my suit and I show up downstairs to meet the team.

00:23:33.870 --> 00:23:40.770
Bethmara Kessler: And they are wearing shorts and sandals and flip flops and you know, like jeans and things like that.

00:23:41.280 --> 00:23:48.030
Bethmara Kessler: And we couldn't have been more horrified at each other's you know what they what each other, was wearing.

00:23:48.510 --> 00:23:58.470
Bethmara Kessler: And I in my head had already formed the opinion which was incorrect that that's why they weren't being taken seriously, that they were just you know kind of being jerky and not respectful.

00:23:59.070 --> 00:24:09.270
Bethmara Kessler: And they said to me, you need to go upstairs they said, you need to change, did you bring anything to change until I said, I have the clothes, that I flew in because I was supposed to come fix this and go home.

00:24:10.710 --> 00:24:17.100
Bethmara Kessler: They said what did you wear I said a T-shirt a black T-shirt black jeans and Doc Martens and they said go upstairs and put the mind.

00:24:17.460 --> 00:24:25.440
Bethmara Kessler: reluctantly, I did, and when I got there I completely understood, about the fact that I would not have been led in the door, if I wasn't dressed like that.

00:24:25.710 --> 00:24:33.780
Bethmara Kessler: And the way in which people were relating to me when I was dressed like that was completely different than when I was in a suit and I really practiced over the years.

00:24:34.470 --> 00:24:43.680
Bethmara Kessler: You know kind of using how I dressed and how I presented as a way of you know kind of establishing where I was at.

00:24:44.070 --> 00:24:51.240
Bethmara Kessler: In that moment, so you know board meetings I would always be you know kind of dressed to the nines and my suits and my proper footwear.

00:24:51.720 --> 00:25:00.030
Bethmara Kessler: But when I wasn't in board meetings, if I didn't need to be I always was dressing, in a way that was accessible and my last corporate role, I was.

00:25:00.600 --> 00:25:05.490
Bethmara Kessler: head of integrated global services for the Campbell soup company and I had a large global group.

00:25:06.000 --> 00:25:11.880
Bethmara Kessler: And what was really interesting is my footwear had become a thing, where people would come up to me in the whole or in the or in the.

00:25:12.420 --> 00:25:26.430
Bethmara Kessler: cafeteria and they'd show me their shoes and that would be a way to connect that was so much more authentic I was the accessible, you know, I was an accessible leader, because of the way I dressed and it's worked for me over the years, so I still do it.

00:25:27.000 --> 00:25:36.060
Kelly Paxton: yeah I actually showed up a gig where we are back traveling and have a thing about fine Italian leather boots because they're actually quite comfortable.

00:25:36.450 --> 00:25:45.930
Kelly Paxton: And I think I was probably non stop and I forgot my shoes like I I had my tenant like they were cute I think they were converse shoes.

00:25:46.380 --> 00:25:51.900
Kelly Paxton: And so here, I am in my nice suit because I think it was like an eye and and and I'm intentions.

00:25:52.290 --> 00:26:05.130
Kelly Paxton: And I had to give the whole excellent Houston and I think it was shortly after we had met in Florida, so another really interesting story that I remember from Florida and I'd like to, if you remember it is.

00:26:05.640 --> 00:26:15.090
Kelly Paxton: You talk about tone at the top and a guy who took his team out for a really nice dinner and a bottle of wine, do you want to talk about that.

00:26:15.660 --> 00:26:25.740
Bethmara Kessler: Sure  it is so so I talked about this story a lot when I try to you know kind of get people to understand.

00:26:26.250 --> 00:26:34.560
Bethmara Kessler: That sometimes you know that leaders have to be very aware that their words and actions really matter and that people pay attention to them.

00:26:35.070 --> 00:26:44.700
Bethmara Kessler: And there was one guy who ran a division of a company that I worked with, and he was beloved and really, really awesome.

00:26:45.540 --> 00:26:57.180
Bethmara Kessler: One of the things that he would do with his team was he would they had to go once a year on a it was like an inspirational trip, so they travel.

00:26:57.510 --> 00:27:04.980
Bethmara Kessler: To different places in the world in order to look at trends and things in fashion, you know kind of.

00:27:05.250 --> 00:27:15.420
Bethmara Kessler: fashion or music, what are the kinds of things that were happening because that was going to influence their projects and they're thinking over the next you know kind of 18 to 24 months.

00:27:16.080 --> 00:27:22.260
Bethmara Kessler: So as a ritual, because the travel was so grueling because they were up from morning till night.

00:27:22.470 --> 00:27:33.000
Bethmara Kessler: At the end of the trip, he would always reward the team, by taking them out to a really nice dinner and ordering the most expensive bottle of wine on the menu and everybody would get you know, like a glass of the.

00:27:33.450 --> 00:27:45.450
Bethmara Kessler: From the most expensive bottle of wine multiple bottles of the most expensive bottle of wine one year he couldn't make it so his number two who had been traveling with him for a really long time goes on, the trip.

00:27:46.950 --> 00:27:55.410
Bethmara Kessler: And comes back and submits his expense report, so this guy gets expense report to approve and he almost fell off his chair and is like.

00:27:56.190 --> 00:28:00.600
Bethmara Kessler: screaming you know, like getting trying to get this guy into his office and the guy comes into his office.

00:28:01.110 --> 00:28:05.100
Bethmara Kessler: And he's like what the hell, are you thinking he's like what are you talking about.

00:28:05.460 --> 00:28:13.770
Bethmara Kessler: And he shows him the expense report and he said how dare you, you know kind of put this through on your expense report and he's like What do you mean you do it every year.

00:28:14.130 --> 00:28:22.860
Bethmara Kessler: And he goes oh my gosh do you really think that I expect the shareholders to pay for the bottle of wine, he goes that's my personal gift to all of you.

00:28:23.250 --> 00:28:28.380
Bethmara Kessler: And you know and they never dawned on these people who knew this man for so many years.

00:28:28.710 --> 00:28:38.430
Bethmara Kessler: And knew who he was that he was actually always doing the right thing and the thing that really struck me and in really gave me, you know really showed me what true leadership was.

00:28:38.880 --> 00:28:46.920
Bethmara Kessler: Was he reached into his bad pulled out his his checkbook and actually wrote a check to the guy and told them to remove it from his expense report.

00:28:47.430 --> 00:28:59.040
Bethmara Kessler: So he reimbursed him, but he didn't. He didn't allow him to charge it through the company and that lesson for me in you know, in terms of you know leaders actions really do.

00:29:00.660 --> 00:29:09.210
Bethmara Kessler: If people do pay attention to them, whether you believe they do or not, so how you say what you say and how you act and how you behave is really, really important.

00:29:10.320 --> 00:29:12.720
Bethmara Kessler: You know kind of as important as part of a dynamic.

00:29:13.590 --> 00:29:24.600
Kelly Paxton: And you know what that like I mean I just think of the guy who submitted the expensive bottles of wine thinking his boss it done that, like how awful he felt and like just.

00:29:26.160 --> 00:29:27.660
Kelly Paxton: Mistakes can happen.

00:29:28.140 --> 00:29:28.410
Bethmara Kessler: Like.

00:29:28.590 --> 00:29:46.410
Kelly Paxton: This not understanding that, but the fact that the guy pulls out his checkbook and paid for, I think, says a lot if it says a lot about his character, but it says a lot about his leading his leadership, and you know the tone at the top that get it was unspoken.

00:29:47.280 --> 00:29:50.850
Kelly Paxton: But yeah so and that's great we.

00:29:52.710 --> 00:30:02.040
Kelly Paxton: mean of the before it was recording This is like it's always so hard because, like oh God we gotta do this, you found your people in the ACFE.

00:30:02.430 --> 00:30:06.840
Kelly Paxton: So talk a little bit about how you found your people, because I found my people to there.

00:30:07.980 --> 00:30:10.350
Bethmara Kessler: yeah I you know it's funny I.

00:30:12.360 --> 00:30:21.450
Bethmara Kessler: any of you who are auditors or investigators know how lonely those jobs can be very isolating and you're not necessarily.

00:30:22.050 --> 00:30:29.940
Bethmara Kessler: The best friends of everybody in the organization they kind of shun you until you actually get cool and then they let you in and they.

00:30:30.330 --> 00:30:36.330
Bethmara Kessler: love you as a person, but hate you as an audit or an investigator That was my best compliment ever, by the way.

00:30:37.170 --> 00:30:47.310
Bethmara Kessler: Anyway, I had actually been exposed to fraud really early in life and early in.

00:30:48.090 --> 00:30:55.770
Bethmara Kessler: In everything from my dad had actually been defrauded by somebody who is managing the books of his to his business and we ended up losing.

00:30:56.160 --> 00:31:08.580
Bethmara Kessler: A house and his business and everything as a result of it to you know, one of my early jobs, while I was in high school working in a card store, where it was a mom and pop card store and.

00:31:09.720 --> 00:31:18.570
Bethmara Kessler: I ended up working on Mother's Day for an events of Mother's Day, which is the biggest card giving day, or at least it used to be when we used to give cards and.

00:31:19.050 --> 00:31:26.400
Bethmara Kessler: The women that I was working with they were all women, we were sharing registers and they would keep the registers, open and they would.

00:31:26.760 --> 00:31:33.390
Bethmara Kessler: Make believe they were bringing up sales, but instead, they would know how much you know if somebody bought one card what the cost was or two.

00:31:33.810 --> 00:31:44.160
Bethmara Kessler: And they were keeping track of how many cards they weren't ringing up and, at the end of the day when they went to count out the registers, it was a pile for them and a pile for the owners.

00:31:44.700 --> 00:31:54.810
Bethmara Kessler: And that was something that that completely you know blew my mind, they offered me some of the cut in order to keep my mouth shut didn't take the car didn't keep my mouth shut.

00:31:55.410 --> 00:32:03.540
Bethmara Kessler: ended up leaving because the people who owned it didn't think that they actually were Okay, with some degree of that which was a little strange to me.

00:32:04.320 --> 00:32:15.990
Bethmara Kessler: But anyway, I kept you know kind of tripping upon fraud and in one of my early in my early roles, I actually stumbled across a $1.9 million fraud.

00:32:16.920 --> 00:32:26.970
Bethmara Kessler: And it was something that was exhilarating all consing and probably one of the most exciting things that I had done in my career up till that point.

00:32:27.450 --> 00:32:37.710
Bethmara Kessler: And when I completed the case I you know when I was thinking about all the events, I was going to the you know some of the IAA events and I soco and you know different things like that.

00:32:38.760 --> 00:32:48.030
Bethmara Kessler: I wasn't really connecting with all of the materials that were being presented, and I was doing my research to try to find some things in the fraud space and came across a CFP.

00:32:48.480 --> 00:33:00.180
Bethmara Kessler: And this was in the kind of the probably the late 90s mid late 90s, and I went to my first conference and everything from it being a global conference where.

00:33:00.690 --> 00:33:10.200
Bethmara Kessler: Early we used to have the precession of the flags, where you know all the countries that were present were represented, and I would get all choked up, and I still get choked up when that happens.

00:33:10.650 --> 00:33:18.960
Bethmara Kessler: But, but the idea was is that there was so much rich and deep knowledge and just the quality of the presentation of.

00:33:19.530 --> 00:33:31.620
Bethmara Kessler: Everything I thought was was really great and i've built such great professional relationships with people because of it you're one of the people that that I know through it and and i've actually.

00:33:32.490 --> 00:33:40.980
Bethmara Kessler: You know kind of committed myself to giving time to the profession, through the SCI fi so I was the chair of the the CFP, a CFP Board of regents.

00:33:42.030 --> 00:33:58.470
Bethmara Kessler: Last year, and and been on the the border regions for my two year term, and I am on faculty so I teach for them, and I just anything I can you know kind of do in in the CFE space I enjoy doing I love the organization what it stands for and and my people are there.

00:33:59.250 --> 00:34:06.180
Kelly Paxton: yeah totally yeah we're it it's a very unique I think group.

00:34:07.170 --> 00:34:10.740
Kelly Paxton: But also, as I was telling you earlier, I had someone reached out to me last week and.

00:34:11.010 --> 00:34:25.950
Kelly Paxton: he's like well why and i'm like Okay, you know financially, I can tell you that it's going to benefit you, but the amount of resources that the ACF he puts out that you can use to elevate yourself and we talked about this by presentation coming up your brand is a CFP.

00:34:27.060 --> 00:34:40.530
Kelly Paxton: I can't make that stuff and if I made it it wouldn't be as good, but like they just there's so many resources and you just need to utilize them, I mean that's what you're paying for.

00:34:40.800 --> 00:34:51.360
Bethmara Kessler: yeah there's a lot of great resources The other thing that's a great resource as they they also have some cool discussion boards I don't know if you've ever engaged in any of those.

00:34:51.780 --> 00:35:00.960
Bethmara Kessler: But you know, sometimes somebody will reach out to me with a you know with a question any happy to network with anybody who's interested in networking, please connect with me on LinkedIn.

00:35:01.770 --> 00:35:10.260
Bethmara Kessler: But you know but anytime somebody asked me a question I don't know where to point them for a resource I'll be like why don't you throw it out on the discussion board at the ACFE.

00:35:10.560 --> 00:35:19.470
Bethmara Kessler: And people are so generous with their ideas with their materials that it's just it's a really kind of awesome thing so.

00:35:19.950 --> 00:35:36.750
Bethmara Kessler: I speak for the ACFE I do, I actually do also a lot of you know kind of things on my own organisations call me in to do you know kind of targeted training for their organizations which I know you do a lot of as well and it's all fun it's it's just yeah.

00:35:37.080 --> 00:35:37.710
Bethmara Kessler: There might be.

00:35:37.950 --> 00:35:38.820
Bethmara Kessler: fun it's.

00:35:39.330 --> 00:35:49.680
Kelly Paxton: fun, you know what I never been to like you know do that as a joke, but we remember the crazy stories, I remember your story about the really expensive bottle of wine.

00:35:49.890 --> 00:35:58.260
Kelly Paxton: Like and people remember my story about you know the woman who, whatever it's like we will remember those stories and.

00:35:58.920 --> 00:36:16.650
Kelly Paxton: Like the things you've just been talking about what I say about pink collar crime aka garden variety embezzlement it's the relatable crime it touches everyone even like your family it's happened in my dad's business and my father in law's you know career and.

00:36:18.060 --> 00:36:25.200
Kelly Paxton: If anyone thinks that they are too smart to whatever to be a victim of this there were so mistaken.

00:36:27.540 --> 00:36:37.170
Kelly Paxton: There, a kind good person that's where it can really, really happen, not to say that my dad was like well, he was he was a kind of good person, but kind of in a crazy sort of way.

00:36:39.510 --> 00:36:48.480
Kelly Paxton: What we're getting close to wrapping up here, but what are, what would you say to someone starting out in the world of fraud.

00:36:50.430 --> 00:36:58.260
Bethmara Kessler: Oh there's you know, the first thing I would say, is to remember that you know kind of starting out.

00:36:58.710 --> 00:37:08.820
Bethmara Kessler: No matter he let me kind of back up, I know that people start out in their career in fraud at different life stages of their career and that's The thing that I think is unique to fraud.

00:37:09.090 --> 00:37:23.610
Bethmara Kessler: There are some people that start out real early in their career and have a passion for it and say, I want to do something that ends up you know kind of intersecting with fraud investigation or fraud auditing or or something like that, if you're early in your career.

00:37:24.960 --> 00:37:30.480
Bethmara Kessler: treat it as a journey, not a destination, and you know and and and.

00:37:31.590 --> 00:37:33.090
Bethmara Kessler: continue to.

00:37:34.860 --> 00:37:45.000
Bethmara Kessler: to stoke your I call it kind of you know kind of getting in touch with your inner three year old you know where everything is about wide and I know you talk about curiosity a lot.

00:37:45.690 --> 00:37:58.560
Bethmara Kessler: You know stoke that, in a way, where you're being deliberate about the experiences that you get in your career the skills that you're getting and be deliberate about you know kind of keeping tabs on what those things are so that you can make.

00:37:59.070 --> 00:38:06.810
Bethmara Kessler: Good decisions about where you invest your time for training development networking things like that so that's if you're early in your career.

00:38:07.620 --> 00:38:17.580
Bethmara Kessler: If you're more mid career life stage or late career life stage and you're looking to get engaged in fraud, I know a lot of people struggle with the balance of.

00:38:17.970 --> 00:38:27.780
Bethmara Kessler: I have a lot of experience and I don't want to start in an entry level job so one of the things that I really suggest to folks is first look in your own organization.

00:38:29.160 --> 00:38:36.210
Bethmara Kessler: If you have people in your organization that deal with investigations fraud or anything that kind of interest you in that space.

00:38:36.630 --> 00:38:42.090
Bethmara Kessler: If they're not willing to consider you for a role, you know kind of flat out, you know some kind of rotation in.

00:38:42.780 --> 00:38:50.160
Bethmara Kessler: See if there's a way that you can get involved in either volunteering shadowing or participating in some of their activities.

00:38:50.550 --> 00:38:56.460
Bethmara Kessler: Not only to kind of see what it looks like in reality and make sure that this is really what you want.

00:38:56.760 --> 00:39:01.800
Bethmara Kessler: but also to put yourself in a position where you can demonstrate to them how your skills are transferable.

00:39:02.100 --> 00:39:08.880
Bethmara Kessler: So the thing that that people don't realize is we get a lot of skills throughout our life experiences throughout our life.

00:39:09.210 --> 00:39:15.330
Bethmara Kessler: That actually are transferable to many things, and a lot of them are transferable to the fraud space so.

00:39:15.630 --> 00:39:23.100
Bethmara Kessler: Being deliberate at all life stages about taking stock of the skills that you have the experiences, you have that could be transferable to.

00:39:23.430 --> 00:39:31.740
Bethmara Kessler: a career in Anti Fraud career is is the way that I like to approach it and then you know kind of is in terms of advice that I give people.

00:39:32.370 --> 00:39:42.870
Bethmara Kessler: You know, be yourself there's no one else you can be I think you know people tend to believe they have to you know kind of morph into being somebody else in order to be successful.

00:39:43.410 --> 00:39:52.410
Bethmara Kessler: And that never works, because we can't be somebody else were who we are, so what you need to do is figure out how to retain your uniqueness.

00:39:53.430 --> 00:39:57.000
Bethmara Kessler: and actually you know kind of demonstrate the value of that to the work you're doing.

00:39:58.050 --> 00:40:09.540
Kelly Paxton: I just had a call with a woman last week, who really likes the fraud space she works in health care and she's kind of in a position now where because I mean you've probably seen this where.

00:40:10.500 --> 00:40:17.730
Kelly Paxton: it's all about the consulting gig and bringing business in as a rainmaker and everything and she's like.

00:40:18.180 --> 00:40:29.070
Kelly Paxton: I don't want to cold call, and I said, you know what there's other ways that you can bring business and I gave her a bunch of i'm like put on a webinar for your firm write a paper for your firm.

00:40:29.520 --> 00:40:34.860
Kelly Paxton: get people to understand that you are the subject matter expert in this, and it was just like.

00:40:35.190 --> 00:40:43.170
Kelly Paxton: Like the lights went off for her, she just was like oh my God I couldn't do that because she does i'm terrible at calling people up and saying hey.

00:40:43.530 --> 00:40:53.790
Kelly Paxton: I you know I could help you and I said you just need because it's a big enough organization you just need to be able, for people to see that you are the go to person.

00:40:54.960 --> 00:40:55.230
Bethmara Kessler: yep.

00:40:56.130 --> 00:41:07.530
Bethmara Kessler: yeah and you have to believe it and you know I kind of there's a lot of imposter syndrome that goes on in in in in a lot of places.

00:41:08.160 --> 00:41:24.720
Bethmara Kessler: You know, men and women experience imposter syndrome, where you know where we we kind of question How did we get to where we are, or I can apply for this, because I don't check all the boxes, I only check to the boxes The thing is, is that you've gone through life.

00:41:25.890 --> 00:41:32.970
Bethmara Kessler: Being able to navigate complex issues just reflect on that think of the most difficult things that you've been challenged with and how you've done it.

00:41:33.420 --> 00:41:44.430
Bethmara Kessler: And not, not that I am a a an advocate of you know kind of the fake it till you make it but really you know give yourself more credit for the things that you actually have.

00:41:45.330 --> 00:41:51.330
Bethmara Kessler: You know, have accomplished, and the things that you can actually use to to leverage, as you go forward is really, really important.

00:41:52.770 --> 00:42:07.620
Kelly Paxton: yeah so true so incredibly true, so I do ask about like what you've been bingeing and you listen to podcasts and, besides, listening to great women in fraud what other podcast you listen to which I hadn't heard about and i'm going to add to my list.

00:42:07.920 --> 00:42:20.220
Bethmara Kessler: A great women a fraud is one of my favorites I actually kind of mad because i've never been invited to want to mary bresland parties that you were so excited about when you talk with her.

00:42:21.900 --> 00:42:23.100

Bethmara Kessler: So Mary if you.

00:42:23.580 --> 00:42:24.600
Kelly Paxton: want I promise.

00:42:24.660 --> 00:42:28.260
Bethmara Kessler: yeah Mary if you listen to this, I want an invite to the next party.

00:42:29.760 --> 00:42:41.190
Bethmara Kessler: And I did just you know, have the privilege of listening to your podcast with abby which I thought was fabulous and could not believe that he brought me up at the end of the podcast.

00:42:41.610 --> 00:42:57.330
Bethmara Kessler: But  I one of the ones that i've been enjoying is a podcast called con artists and con artists, is a is actually a podcast these two guys get into some cases.

00:42:58.230 --> 00:43:03.510
Bethmara Kessler: Some of its I'll call it a little bro it because there are sometimes there are jokes that I'm like I'm not.

00:43:04.470 --> 00:43:11.730
Bethmara Kessler: Not not all that into but I actually think some of you know kind of some of the insights and pieces of the stories that they tell are.

00:43:12.240 --> 00:43:25.920
Bethmara Kessler: are actually pretty interesting and entertaining one of the first ones that I did of theirs was on Barry Minkow and ZZZZ Best.

00:43:26.820 --> 00:43:39.180
Bethmara Kessler: So in back in the 90s, you know kind of main cow he had been this business, you know kind of kind of crazy over boy who you know who ended up.

00:43:40.380 --> 00:43:48.570
Bethmara Kessler: Well, he actually in the 90s, he got released, it was actually in the 80s, I think that he had done this, but he was he was just you know kind of this.

00:43:49.200 --> 00:44:02.610
Bethmara Kessler: The scrappy guy who saw opportunity and created inroads to you know, try to make themselves rich and try to make himself really well connected and he managed to really fleece well to to to.

00:44:03.300 --> 00:44:12.270
Bethmara Kessler: convince people that he was you know kind of way more successful than he was and and and he got involved in some crazy things so I knew the very surface story of.

00:44:12.660 --> 00:44:20.760
Bethmara Kessler: You know kind of  best and and some of the things he had done, but some of the insights that they had about him growing up and everything really kind of.

00:44:21.180 --> 00:44:29.250
Bethmara Kessler: got me to a place where it gave me a completely different insight as to how he became a fraudster you know kind of why he became a fraudster.

00:44:29.550 --> 00:44:43.440
Bethmara Kessler: And how you know kind of even after his initial frauds and being incarcerated how it was just so easy for him to fall back into the pattern of being you know kind of being a fraudster but they have some really interesting they do some stuff on.

00:44:44.790 --> 00:45:01.620
Bethmara Kessler: On herbalife and you know some of the you know kind of coming that some of that stuff they do things on forgeries, and you know other kinds of cases I just find them to be entertaining and interesting so that's one of the ones I'd recommend.

00:45:02.070 --> 00:45:16.320
Kelly Paxton: cool I will add that, to my list you know this is apparently a law enforcement type question, given my background, it makes sense  is there anything I haven't asked you that you want to get out to the audience today the catch all question.

00:45:18.090 --> 00:45:27.090
Bethmara Kessler: that's such a punting question or you know, is there anything I haven't told you that you talked about that you wish I had.

00:45:29.910 --> 00:45:45.480
Bethmara Kessler: yeah I you know I think  no, I think that there's I first of all, I think that you're doing these podcasts as an incredibly great service to the profession and I thank you for doing them I find them really entertaining and insightful and interesting, so thank you for that.

00:45:46.950 --> 00:45:51.000
Bethmara Kessler: I you know, I think that the one thing that I would.

00:45:53.010 --> 00:46:13.230
Bethmara Kessler: You know kind of asked folks to you know, to really think about is what they're doing personally and professionally to you know to to continue to evolve accelerate and and amp up their career, I feel like you know a lot of times, people are looking for.

00:46:14.340 --> 00:46:33.090
Bethmara Kessler: You know, for others to kind of shepherd the way or kind of you know kind of help shed light on on what it is they should actually be doing when the reality is is you have it within your control to actually navigate your career and and you know kind of navigate what it is you do so.

00:46:34.230 --> 00:46:42.690
Bethmara Kessler: I would just ask of of your audience to really consider about how they can become even more involved in, you know kind of.

00:46:43.800 --> 00:46:53.610
Bethmara Kessler: Either getting involved in mentoring folks you know kind of influencing the profession thinking about how they can contribute to the profession.

00:46:53.820 --> 00:47:00.300
Bethmara Kessler: Everything from speaking engagements at chapter events or within your organization, you know things to kind of.

00:47:00.900 --> 00:47:08.820
Bethmara Kessler: You know kind of build up awareness around fraud, not making it your company's f4 you know where you can't talk about it.

00:47:09.300 --> 00:47:14.940
Bethmara Kessler: You know, I would just ask that, as a result of you know kind of kind of the work you and I do.

00:47:15.540 --> 00:47:31.140
Bethmara Kessler: I'd ask other people to kind of jp in and do whatever you can to to spread the word and build the awareness and certainly if you need awesome people in your organization to come talk about it Kelly, and I, we can do tag teaming we can do solos.

00:47:32.400 --> 00:47:38.190
Bethmara Kessler: But you know really get educated be student read some of those indictment of.

00:48:00.840 --> 00:48:02.850
Kelly Paxton: Is curiosity and lifelong learning.

00:48:03.090 --> 00:48:07.890
Kelly Paxton: Learning and sharing is caring I just you epitomize all of it.

00:48:11.250 --> 00:48:15.630
Bethmara Kessler: Thank you for saying that I try it's hard, though, you know, I think that.

00:48:16.590 --> 00:48:31.590
Bethmara Kessler: You know, trying to figure out how to be a great resource for people is it's not necessarily an easy thing you don't want to get into situations i've had mentoring situations where people have expected me to provide them the answers, or to be a crutch to lean on.

00:48:32.730 --> 00:48:39.990
Bethmara Kessler: Or you know, like folks don't come they don't know what to expect from the relationships, so they don't know how to approach the relationship.

00:48:40.470 --> 00:48:55.170
Bethmara Kessler: And then i've seen people who are mentors or you know or who who tried to be very definitive on how people to do certain things in order to be successful and the reality is is that.

00:48:55.800 --> 00:49:13.050
Bethmara Kessler: You know we all have something to you know, to give and get and it's just I've been blessed to have people that have been very generous with with themselves and and and their wisdom and insights and you know, and if there's a little bit of.

00:49:14.130 --> 00:49:19.440
Bethmara Kessler: At least experience I can share with folks i'm happy to do it so yeah sharing is caring.

00:49:20.790 --> 00:49:24.390
Kelly Paxton: Well, thank you so much beth Moore and i'll have all the links in the show notes.

00:49:27.330 --> 00:49:34.650
Bethmara Kessler: awesome well Thank you so much for having me Kelly it's been really interesting and exciting to talk to you could probably talk to you for hours.

Bethmara was not only a Great women in Fraud guest but she is so interesting. Her career has taken her so many places.  She continues to hold the bar high for all. If you are attending the ACFE Global Conference be sure and attend her session and of course mine too, Your brand as a CFE.  

Have a great week.  See you next week with another fascinating guest.