Shilpa Arora: ACAMS’ Fraud Program

Shilpa Arora: ACAMS’ Fraud Program

Speaking with ACAMS Today about ACAMS’ fraud training program and the newly launched Certified Anti-Fraud Specialist (CAFS) certification is head of anti-financial crime (AFC) products and solutions, Shilpa Arora.

CAFS is a modular fraud training program, including fraud risk management programs, fraud investigations and fraud detection and analytics, technologies to combat fraud and curated case studies. Learners can choose to study for the whole certification program or study each component independently with the option to certify. ACAMS’ fraud program offers a comprehensive approach to combating fraud and financial crime on a global scale and serves as a centralized resource for fraud teams, streamlining access to essential information and tools.

Starting at ACAMS over four years ago as director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Arora now focuses on ACAMS products such as certifications, certificates, the ACAMS Academy and more. In addition, she has led roundtable discussions and has spoken at major industry events and conferences.

Previously, Arora was the head of Financial Crime Prevention for the Retail and Business Bank in Santander UK. She was accountable for all areas of financial crime prevention, including know your customer/customer due diligence (KYC/CDD), customer screening, payment screening, transaction monitoring, customer risk assessment and assurance. She led the bank through the implementation of anti-money laundering/counter-terrorist financing (AML/CTF) and anti-bribery and corruption policies and provided advisory on high-risk onboarding, training and communication, and risk assessments. She also held leadership roles at Barclays in financial crime prevention, governance and controls and led large transformation programs.

ACAMS Today (AT): What makes this certification invaluable to anti-fraud professionals?

Shilpa Arora (SA): Fraud is the fastest-growing financial crime, with trillions in revenue lost globally due to fraud. Fraud comes in multiple forms and is increasingly run by organized crime groups. ACAMS has, up until now, viewed fraud as a global threat and has provided resources, event tracks and reporting related to laundering the proceeds of fraud. In addition, ACAMS is now focused on fraud detection, prevention and investigations within financial institutions (FIs). Banks and non-bank FIs play a pivotal role in the industry’s response to fraud. Fraud losses take away from the bottom line each month, thereby increasing service costs for everyone. The victims, sometimes elderly, are vulnerable to losing their life savings, which is a traumatic experience.

Our fraud training program aims to provide the role-specific training, skills and practical expertise needed to be an effective anti-fraud professional. The training program includes fraud foundations, building an effective fraud prevention framework, fraud analytics, fraud investigations and using the latest technology to combat fraud. The program is enriched by dedicated case studies that help the learner embed key principles in fraud response.

AT: Who should earn the CAFS credential?

SA: The CAFS credential is targeted to anti-fraud professionals. Increasingly, there are synergies between fraud prevention and cyber security, anti-bribery and corruption, operational risk, AML and countering sanctions evasion. In addition to anti-fraud professionals, other AFC professionals, cyber security and operational risk professionals will find the CAFS credential useful.

AT: Why should an organization focus on fraud prevention?

SA: Having discussed with multiple banks and non-bank FIs, they have told us how critical it is to keep fraud losses in control and how challenging it is to develop and maintain controls commensurate with fraud losses. Fraud is growing exponentially, with both organized fraud and lone-wolf fraudster schemes increasing in sophistication. Anti-fraud leaders are being driven to attract talent and upskill existing team members to be more proactive and effective in reaching the right anti-fraud outcomes and not just tick boxes. These objectives are coupled with the need for anti-fraud leaders to be sociably responsible, protect consumers and ensure that the reputation of their institution and the financial sector is not tarnished. As we’ve spoken with anti-fraud leaders, we’ve often heard that fraud prevention is very much in the early stages. Organizations are strongly requesting a more proactive, forward-thinking and systematic approach to fraud within their organizations.

Fraud has multiple victims. Often, the fraudsters are victims, too, paying their debt to modern slavery and other organized crime groups. Victims who lose their life savings may never recover. Fraud has debilitating consequences for members of our society. For organizations, beyond corporate responsibility, it is also about mitigating fraud losses. While some organizations take the perspective of writing off minor fraud losses, with the exponential growth in fraud, this response is no longer an option. To protect their shareholders, customers and their assets, organizations find themselves focused on fighting fraud.

Fraud has been identified as a national security threat in multiple jurisdictions, including the U.S., U.K. and the European Union.

AT: Why is training relevant in a fraud department?

SA: There are many ways to fight fraud. Prevention is by far the best way. Recovering funds can be an expensive and tedious process once a fraud has been committed. Preventing fraud requires significant investment in technology, analytics and processes to ensure that customers are protected. This is carried out by introducing friction in processes, where the friction enables cross-checks and additional checks prior to resuming normal activity.

Our CAFS certification provides the principles, theory and practical examples on building a fraud risk management program, with an overview of industry best practices, in-depth perspectives into fraud analytics, profiling and prevention, in addition to a deeper perspective of fraud responses, including investigations and supporting victims. Advanced technology is often used to perpetrate fraud. The CAFS certification details tools and technologies used to recognize and counter fraud.

By training fraud analysts, managers and leads systematically and effectively, an organization can minimize fraud losses, protect their assets and wider society from criminals.

AT: What is the most discussed fraud scheme in 2024 and why?

SA: It would have to be authorized push payments (APP) fraud. APP is the term used to identify fraudulent payments made by a victim to a criminal, believing or assuming that the payment is for a legitimate purpose. Globally, APP fraud is said to represent 75% of digital banking fraud in dollar value.

APP fraud is the underlying typology in romance scams, investment scams and pig butchering, to name a few. What can be very tricky here is the victim is unwittingly helping the fraudster circumvent the organization’s controls. The criminals are adept in social engineering, and this makes it challenging to build and execute effective preventive controls.

AT: How can professionals stay updated on the latest fraud developments?

SA: The benefit of a membership with an organization like ACAMS is our ability to keep our members updated with the latest typologies, trends, techniques and best practices to fight fraud. With nefarious actors using technology to perpetuate fraud, staying up-to-date can be the difference that helps protect your organization.

In addition to our training and certification programs, ACAMS provides webinars, event tracks, roundtables, thought leadership publications, reporting through ACAMS
and contributions from subject-matter experts around the globe through ACAMS Today.

AT: Where can we find out more details about the new ACAMS Fraud Hub and CAFS certification?

SA: Stay tuned for the launch of our Fraud Hub and CAFS certification on July 10 at In the meantime, you can click here to request a complimentary consultation to build an anti-fraud program.

Interviewed by: ACAMS Today editorial, ACAMS,

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