ACAMS Today had the opportunity to interview Timothy J. Delaney, special agent in charge for the FBI, to discuss health care fraud, cyber-crime and corruption.
In August 2014, Delaney reported to FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. to serve as the deputy assistant director of the Criminal Investigative Division. He currently oversees all matters related to white-collar crime, public corruption, civil rights and FBI undercover operations.
From August 2011 to August 2014, Delaney served as the special agent in charge of the Criminal Division for the FBI’s Los Angeles field office. In that role, Delaney oversaw approximately 450 investigators, analysts and support personnel, who were tasked with investigating violations of all federal criminal statutes in the seven counties covered by the LAFO.
In June 2008, until his arrival at Los Angeles, Delaney served as the head of the New Agents Training Program at the FBI Academy located on the Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Virginia. In that role, he was responsible for the instruction and training of more than 800 agents hired by the FBI each year. He oversaw all aspects of the agents training such as: academics, firearms and tactical training, physical fitness and disciplinary issues.
Also, from 2005 through 2008, Delaney served as an assistant special agent in charge in Miami, where he was responsible for the white-collar crime, public corruption, civil rights and cyber programs.
In addition, Delaney was a unit chief at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C., from 2000 to 2004, where he oversaw the FBI’s health care fraud program. In that role, he was responsible for more than 400 investigators nationwide with a budget of more than $114 million.
Lastly from 1991 through 2000, Delaney was an agent and supervisor in the FBI’s New York Office where he worked a variety of criminal matters. Finally, prior to entering the FBI, Delaney worked in the banking industry in Manhattan, New York and was an officer in the U.S. Army Reserves.
ACAMS Today: You have overseen many health care fraud cases, what patterns did you see when investigating this type of fraud and how can financial crime prevention professionals prepare themselves to fight health care fraud?
Timothy J. Delaney: The patterns and schemes of fraudsters are constantly changing. As anti-fraud professionals discover ongoing schemes and take measures to counteract them, criminals quickly look for another vulnerability to exploit. In health care fraud, the perfect example is billing codes. Once we get onto a scheme involving one billing code and adjust audit strategies to monitor what is going on, they move onto another one. I like to use the word “criminals” when referring to the perpetrators of these schemes because that is what they are. Some people do not view white-collar crime as a serious offense, but the bottom line is that they are stealing precious dollars that should be going to patients.
AT: What tips would you share on how to prevent fraud during your conference lectures and training sessions?
TD: We are never going to prevent fraud, there are just too many people looking to make a living off of their schemes or people who discover a weakness and exploit it for their gain. The most effective weapon we have is cooperation and information sharing. The more we can openly discuss evolving schemes and the players behind them, the more successful we can become in limiting their effectiveness. Another key is training programs. We need our anti-fraud professionals to be equipped with the best tools and the most up-to-date training, so that they can spot schemes as quickly as possible.
AT: What similarities have you discovered in your fight against white-collar crime, cyber-crime, money laundering and terrorist financing?
TD: The similarities across different types of crime generally relate to money. Either a person is committing the crime to get money, such as fraud cases, or they are committing some other form of crime which generates proceeds and then that money has to be dealt with such as through narcotics trafficking, corruption or organized crime. The perpetrators of the crimes can be very different, but at the end of the day they have to do something with the money. The biggest change we have seen is the increased use of the Internet and computers. Prior to the Internet, you could use the mail to carry out your scheme, but most of the time it involved some form of human contact either in person or on the telephone. Now we have complete anonymity and portability. A cybercriminal can sit halfway around the world and commit a crime in any one of 50 states. The FBI was founded to help catch criminals who committed a crime in one state but resided in another. We now have to broaden that to look for criminals from outside the U.S. as well as trying to deal with the many we have here as well.
AT: What is your advice on how to deal with corruption within your own financial institution or company?
TD: For an employee in a company, follow the same advice we give with our counterterrorism preparedness: If you see something, say something. Most companies have compliance programs, ethics programs, fraud hotlines, or some other form of intake where an employee can report suspicious activity. If there is nothing internal to that company, there are regulatory boards and oversight agencies regarding almost any area of commerce which someone could contact. Lastly, if a person suspects criminal activity, they can always contact a law enforcement agency at the local, state or federal level such as the FBI. We have had many successful cases, which originated from worker complaints.
AT: Cyber-crime is on the rise, what recommendations do you have for financial crime professionals on how to mitigate this risk and how to properly fight cyber-crime?
TD: In the battle against cyber-crime, we have to move swiftly and in a coordinated fashion. We need constant communication between government and the private sector and among government agencies as well. Our anti-fraud professionals need to have the best equipment and resources and it is imperative that they have the training to keep current in their field. Staying up-to-date and staying networked are key to being on the top of your game.
AT: You have seen quite a bit of corruption with high-level individuals in government, law enforcement and in the private sector, do you have any suggestions on how to appropriately identify politically exposed persons (PEPs) and identify high-risk individuals?
TD: We are constantly looking for ways to spot corruption and fraud earlier. In the FBI, we have a process called threat review and prioritization (TRP) where we are assessing risk across all of our areas of responsibility. We then rank them and drive our resources against our highest priority threat or greatest risk. I know the private sector has done a lot of work in this area as well. It requires almost constant analysis because your biggest risk for tomorrow might not be something you even know about today. In the corruption realm, there are things like sunshine laws and tight ethics requirements that help, but spotting a corrupt official is extremely hard because the vast majority are trusted public servants.
AT: What book are you currently reading?
TD: The Burning Room by Michael Connelly. I started reading the Harry Bosch detective series while I was assigned in Los Angeles as a way to learn about the city and the LAPD and I just finished the most recent one.