BFA #026 | Engineering Credibility

The shortcut that's not a shortcut to your success

What's happening Fraud Fighters?

From an overlooked intern to a credible fraud fighter. I wish I could say it happened overnight and engineering credibility could happen with the snap of my fingers.

It’s probably not going to happen like that, but let’s lay out a roadmap to learn the nuanced art of credibility.

Ready for a shortcut that’s not a shortcut for a successful fraud career?

Let's investigate further.

Read Time: ~4.07 Minutes

I Had 0 Credibility

I sat at my desk as a low paid intern flipping through invoices to input into our system. Tapping away on my keyboard. Until I noticed something seemed off.

I dug a little deeper and looked up the account in our system. Noticing a few patterns and overlapping dates on these invoices.

I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I knew something wasn’t right. Didn’t even realize this was considered fraud at the time. Completely confused with what this could be, I raised my hand and asked a few questions to my boss. The case got quickly escalated and taken off my plate.


I never heard anything about this case again because I was just an intern. No credit. No good job. No thanks.

We had lost a large amount of money to this scheme.

How did this low-paid intern become the one to catch it.

Right then I realized 2 things.

  • I was going to become a fraud fighter

  • There was both an art and business to fighting fraud

Why did I never hear anything about this again?

I had zero credibility.

3 Levels of Credibility

A lot of people don’t want to take the time to learn the game. They’d much rather get to the part where people know who they are and start giving them instant approval.

Especially if the fraud fighter has already achieved some level of fraud fighting success elsewhere, they expect the very first thing they say or try to implement leadership and engineers jump to it.

They believe their professional status should be enough for people to pay attention to them.

For me, I didn’t have the privilege of relying on my previous successes or cushy sounding titles. I hand’t achieved anything yet in my fraud career. As a result, credibility was something that needed to be earned.

Look at where you currently stand. It is crucial to recognize that credibility is not a static concept. It is something that needs to be nurtured and continuously earned.

Did you know there are levels to credibility? What level are you on in your current role?

  1. Implied credibility

  2. Perceived credibility

  3. Earned credibility

Credibility is not the key to becoming a popular fraud fighter. Or the most liked fraud fighter. Credibility is your way of earning currency as a fraud fighter - whether that be a paycheck, budget, or influence.

Roadmap to Credibility

Luckily, in the ever-evolving digital age of fighting fraud, the methods to establish and maintain credibility are different.

As a digital fraud fighter, credibility is no longer solely earned the traditional way because there is less of a path into our world. We come from so many unique journeys but still end up here fighting fraud.

Some signs of credibility are subtle and others are not-so-subtle. But it really just means that you are a fraud fighter worth listening to.

Let’s break down the 3 levels to credibility.

Implied credibility is how much better or worse your fraud advice is than everyone else’s in the conversation.

If you’re sitting in a meeting discussing a recent fraud attack and what happened, you lay out your solution in a clear, concise, and specific manner (and understanding the audience that is sitting in the room)

They don’t need to read your resume or take a look at your past reviews to know whether or not you’re someone credible. They’ve already made their judgement. Your solution is so good, your credibility is implied.

The second level gets a little tricky, and most fraud fighters want it: perceived credibility. It’s making a promise that you’re credible based on what other people are saying about you.

Certifications like the CFE

or quotes like “Brian Davis is the single greatest fraud fighter of this generation” - George Washington

or how many followers someone has

or lists like 30 Fraud Fighters under 30

To be honest, these signals of credibility do work. There’s a reason why social proof wis used in almost every marketing campaign. These signals can be extremely powerful in gaining attention.

The challenge with perceived credibility is that it can be bought, but you still have to back up the expectations and deliver. Some can. But if you skip to this level, you’re going to leave a lot of people disappointed.

The third level is the simplest to gain but takes time. Earned credibility.

Simply put, this is your experience fighting fraud - the battles, bruises, and scars.

What hooks people in is your consistency, your improvement over time, and your ability to create solutions that resonates with us fraud fighters.

People will keep coming back to you because they believe what you do tomorrow will be even better than what you did today. The coolest part about earned credibility is it can be acquired all for free.

Expertise vs Arrogance

Expertise is valuable. It commands respect, builds trust, and can be a powerful tool for your career. The fine line between demonstrating expertise and appearing arrogant can be challenging to navigate.

Demonstrating expertise is more than just about asserting what you know.

it's about conversation, collaboration, and learning. By navigating this journey with self awareness and respect, you can show your expertise without seeming arrogant. Now you’re one step closer to becoming a respected, credible fraud leader.

You’ve made it this far and there haven’t been any real frameworks yet. What’s the deal?

Let’s break it down simply. How can you show your expertise without appearing arrogant today?

  1. Understand your expertise and stay current on fraud trends.

  2. Cultivate curiosity by asking thoughtful questions.

  3. Actively listen. Listen before speaking, gaining a deeper understanding.

  4. Teach others and provide constructive feedback.

  5. Admit mistakes gracefully, showing humility and strength.

  6. Build relationships based on trust and respect.

  7. Let evidence speak for your expertise; it's about 'show', not 'tell'.

The moment you have even one signal of credibility, you should start leveraging it.

There are an infinite number of credibility signals that exist.

Unfortunately, most fraud fighters don’t use these signals to their advantage. They have them, or they very easily could have them, they just choose not to leverage them.

As a result, they don’t appear very credible at all.

See you again next Friday in your inbox.


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→ Today's action step: Read back through this issue and figure out where you’re at. Find the relevant suggestions I laid out and choose just one to move forward with next week.

If you’re looking to build your career, there are 2 ways I can help you:

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