Our Interesting Expert of the Week is Linda Webb, aka The Fraud Dog.
Webb, who ran AIG’s Global Fraud operations, is president of Contego Services Group, a provider of insurance services, including fraud investigations and cost-containment solutions.
Webb specializes in the most complex organized crime rings and anti-money laundering, including insurance fraud, mortgage and financial fraud, and Medicare and healthcare fraud. She has managed more than 20,000 investigations and over $1.2 billion in exposure.
Some of Webb’s complex investigative cases include: an organized crime ring involving doctors, attorneys and clinics; a counterfeit retail product crime ring; a $300 million fake insurance ring; a $10 million fake death ring; and a money laundering case, with D&O exposure to a U.S. company.
Webb is also a frequent speaker on fraud and the investigative industry, and travels with her canine sidekick, Buster, to help increase fraud awareness.
We asked Webb to tell us more about her job – and, of course, Buster:
How did "The Fraud Dog" become your nickname?
You have to be “tough as nails” to fight the fraudster. I’ve had a gun put to my head and a knife put to my throat in fighting criminals my whole life. I’ve been fighting fraud around the world 30+ years. Fighting fraud is my life. People tell me I chase criminals like a dog with a bone. I don’t stop until I catch the fraudster.
What is your most memorable fraud case?
I am compassionate about helping children and the elderly. The faceless fraudster preys upon all ages, including the elderly and the young. For teenagers, it is the Craigslist babysitting scam (reverse sell scam), and for the elderly, it’s viatical life insurance fraud.
Viatical life insurance fraud targeting the elderly is my most passionate case, because any time I can stop a crooked insurance agent who tries to sell viatical life insurance fraud scams in an elderly community, it could very well save lives. In this scam, if the insured (i.e., the elderly person) doesn’t die soon enough, they are murdered. In most cases, this goes undetected because people think they just died of old age, and the relatives don’t know about the viatical fraud life insurance policy, because the agent made the benefactors a bunch of investors, organized crime rings or modern day mobsters.
What is it like being a woman leader in a male-dominated industry? Have you ever felt your personal safety was at risk?
I would be the first to admit that being a woman in this investigative field wasn’t easy when I first started, but that is nothing compared to being face-to-face with a leader of an organized crime ring who has stolen millions from people due to fraud. I don’t have time to think about fear when fighting the fraudster. I do not fear death. My legacy is to stop fraud around the world – end of story.
What's the most rewarding part of your job?
Saving someone from getting killed is always first and foremost. Fraud can result in people getting killed, getting hurt, and losing their life savings. For every faceless fraudster I stop, I have hopefully saved a few lives, prevented people from getting hurt, and stopped someone from taking another person's life savings.
What's the most frustrating part of your job?
When I was in Times Square, two elderly ladies told me some horrific stories about how their life savings got stolen from a fraudster. Imagine: You work your whole life to finally retire, and then a fraudster steals your retirement money. Wake up, America! This is happening and we need to get the word out. When we educate the public, they become aware and cannot be victimized. Fraud awareness must be a priority, hence the reason for “The Fraud Dog” television show: to inform the public about the latest fraud scams.
How does fraud affect us as a society/nation?
Within the next two years, every person will experience some form of fraud. One in three people per year will experience some form of identity theft. Every child in America will be victimized by some form of fraud. Fraud is here to stay, and cyber fraud will consume our business industry in the next five years. We cannot afford to sit back. We need to educate the public as the most preventive way to stop the fraudster.
How can we, as individuals, protect ourselves from fraud?
If someone tells you, “Pay me cash today for services tomorrow,” beware! During catastrophic fraud, the fraudster loves to prey upon those victims in areas stricken by hurricanes, floods and tornadoes. Don’t be victimized twice. Do your due diligence. Turn to the Internet. Ask for references. Ask friends, neighbors, the Better Business Bureau. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Are there any telltale signs?
Faceless fraudsters do not want to be identified, so if you feel you are confronted by a fraudster, take the fraudster’s picture with your cellphone! Be sure to ask the fraudster for identification. If the fraudster does not want to be identified, or tries to hide their identity, then something is not right. Fight back, America! Be proactive and fight against the fraudster!
Buster is a cutie. Can you tell us more her? What’s her role?
Buster is my sidekick when fighting the fraudster out in the field. Buster’s amazing agility and Fraud Dog senses helps the Fraud Dog team in fighting fraud.
Buster also wants to teach children fraud awareness around the world. Buster will help kids understand that they can also be victims of fraud scams like cellphone texting, social-media fraud scams and Internets scams. Buster asks parents, families and communities to teach our kids to also become Fraud Dogs when they grow up.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Help us stop fraud by reporting fraud scams to 855-FRAUD-DOG. The more scams we learn about, the faster we can tell the public.