FWN Blog

  • Wednesday, June 22, 2022 10:42 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Mental Health Awareness Week (9-13th May 2022)

    It was Mental Health Awareness Week at the beginning of May and I wanted to share some insight about how poor mental health has affected me in the past and what I do now to keep my mind fit.  We all know about how important it is to look after our bodies, in the same way it’s just as important to look after our minds.  Yet, as a society I think we really struggle to talk about that, particularly for women in the workplace.  At the time, I was afraid of talking about this at work through fear of being judged as incompetent but in fact I don’t think I recognised the signs that there was something wrong until it all blew up one day.  I wanted to share what happened to me so that it might help  others recognise similar signs and look to seek help before it gets worse. 

    How it happened was this.  I’d been working in a company for several years.  I’d been a successful, award-winning intelligence analyst in the police and latterly in the private sector and was making great progress in my career.  I’ve had experience in multiple disciplines across physical, fraud and cyber subjects (this now sounds a bit like my CV!), and in June 2017 I was successful in getting promoted to a team leader role for a team of Cyber Intelligence Analysts.  Cyber was a completely new field to me and although I was eager to share my analytical experience, it also scared me too because I didn’t know the subject very well. 

    I put a huge amount of pressure on myself.  I felt like I was given an opportunity to lead and told myself that I'd better not mess this up!!  I obsessed about being a great leader and bought all the appropriate books under the sun to help me.  I wanted to do everything “by the book”.  I took on every opportunity going, volunteered for stuff because I wanted to show that I could do it, even though perhaps I wasn’t the most experienced, I wanted the challenge.  Looking back on this now it should have been a big red flag.  Even though I gobbled up every opportunity, I didn’t think to challenge when I knew that I’d struggle or that I was doing too much.  So, there I was, doing projects that I felt I wasn’t experienced at with little support that I asked for and no training, hoping that I wouldn’t get found out … a massive attack of imposter syndrome! 

    I was travelling each week to our showcase suite to do customer presentations, a journey round the M25 of over 100 miles each way, there and back in a day.  Along with the pressure of building an entirely new product for customers, plus managing a new team, I was exhausted and completely worn out.  I started to not recognise myself, I was getting so wound up, being short with people in meetings and being completely on edge all the time, and I’m embarrassed to say that this manifested itself in road-rage.  I wasn’t sleeping properly which made everything worse and on several occasions I caught myself starting to fall asleep at the wheel.  That really frightened me, and you’d think that this would be the event that caused me to stop and realise that things weren’t right and that I needed to get some help.  But actually it wasn’t.  I continued to struggle on.  I said to my myself and my boss that I could do this, I would do this, I wouldn’t fail, I wouldn’t let anyone down.  My solution was that instead of driving, I’d get the train instead.  But the fear persisted, and eventually it was on one of these rail journeys on my way to a customer presentation that I had my first panic attack. 

    This was me 5 years ago.  At the time I had an incredibly supportive manager who also happened to be a close friend.  She recognised that things weren’t right and on the day of my panic attack, she made sure I got home safely and took some time off.  I didn’t want time off but knew that I couldn’t keep going as I was.  She suggested that I talk to someone through our Employee Assistance Programme.  This has been my lifesaver.  I was put in touch with a therapist and had several rounds of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).  I was diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety which was treated with a combination of medication and talking therapy.  It’s the therapy that I think has had the greatest impact, although the meds helped to give me that space in my head to process what I’ve learnt through CBT.  Five years on, I’m no longer clinically depressed, and although I still go through smaller bouts, I’m more attuned to the red flags when they appear.  I recognise my thinking errors when they occur and have learnt how to use tools to cope with them and question them so that they don’t consume my thinking. 

    I want to share some of the things I've learnt through CBT about my thinking errors in the hope that they may resonate with you and I’ve included some of the reference materials I found useful to help me understand the issues I was facing. 

    Thinking errors that were common for me

    Catastrophising – creating a mountain out of a molehill.  Since I was little, I have always thought the worst.  If someone I love is travelling somewhere, I'd instantly worry that they’d been involved in an accident if they haven’t let me know when they’d got to their destination. 

    Fortune-telling – when things turn out to be not as bad as you expect.  My therapist reflected this back to me when she asked me how many of my worries had actually been true. 

    I’ve written, deleted and re-written this blog several times thinking how many people are going to read this and think it’s a load of rubbish.  This is mind-reading, the tendency to assume that others are thinking negative things about you or have negative motives or tendencies.  This is also a key factor in my professional career where imposter syndrome takes over.  Although I’ve won awards throughout my career, I mentally filter these out and only acknowledge information that fits my belief that people think I’m rubbish and consequently I don’t pay much attention to my successes. 

    The culmination of my poor mental health was in over-generalising.  Around the time I took on the new leadership role, the United States had just inaugurated a new President like no other, Brexit was just getting going.  In a case of over-generalising, I felt scared for the world and this compounded my worries … if only we knew then that a global pandemic was on the way! 

    CBT helped me to reframe and rationalise some of these thinking errors.  For example, getting a little perspective can turn negative catastrophising into a more neutral frame of mind.  How true is it that nothing ever goes right for you?  When making demands of myself and putting myself under so much pressure, paying attention to language like “should” and “must” is key, replacing these words with “prefer”, “wish” or “want”.  I wanted to publish this blog during Mental Health Awareness week, but it just wasn’t going to happen due to various other commitments I had.  My new thought process is that whilst I’d have preferred to do it then, there wasn’t any requirement or need to do it then so why stress?  I’m now putting less pressure on myself which can only ever be a good thing. 

    These are just some of the tools that have helped me to retain a more positive mental health status.  I’ve included some resources below that I found helpful in my recovery. 

    • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Dummies.  By Rhena Brand and Rob Willson. 
    • The Chimp Paradox.  By Dr Stephen Peters.  CBT but in story form. 
    • Happy.  By Ferne Cotton. 
    • Who moved my cheese?  By Dr Spencer Johnson. 
    • The Calm app, available from your usual app store.  I found the music particularly helpful to relax to as well as the sleep stories. 

    My takeaway message is that mental health is real, it can happen to anyone, and it can be just as or even more debilitating than a physical injury or illness.  Seek help, reach out to someone you trust or to organisations such as Mind who can offer professional help to support you.  Please don’t suffer in silence. 

  • Wednesday, April 28, 2021 12:53 | Anonymous

    The Fraud Women’s Network is very proud to have supported The Eve Appeal since our launch in 2007. Last week we were delighted to welcome Dr Tracie Miles, a Gynaecological Oncology Specialist Nurse and Genomics Practitioner with over 38 years of experience in the NHS. This event was open to all – members and non-members – to raise awareness of gynaecological cancers.

    With 58 women per day in the UK being diagnosed with a gynaecological cancer the need for knowledge and understanding has never been greater. Our informative session provided an important insight into the five gynaecological cancers affecting thousands of people every year. Of these five cancers, cervical cancer is the only one to have an effective screening programme – and it saves between 4,000 and 5,000 lives every year. The Eve Appeal strongly encourages women to attend their cervical screening appointments.

    We’d like as many people as possible to have access to this information so if you weren’t able to attend on the day please use this link to watch. Please use the passcode .4C3YH&W

    If you would like more information or support, if you’re worried about symptoms or a friend or family member has been diagnosed with gynae cancer – Ask Eve is available to answer any of your questions. You can find out more here or you can contact the service on 0808 802 0019 (free to call from landlines and mobiles in the UK) or email nurse@eveappeal.org.uk

    If you would like to support The Eve Appeal in raising much-needed funds to help stop gynae cancers before they start you can involved with

    Virtual Get Lippy Run, Jog or Walk – 16th May

    A Trek To Remember women who have lost their lives to a gynaecological cancer – 25th September

    If you would like your company to get involved with supporting The Eve Appeal please contact Kate Redding on kate.redding@eveappeal.org.uk

  • Monday, November 23, 2015 08:55 | Anonymous

    We were so pleased and humbled to have been not only nominated by our members but also shortlisted for an Inclusive Networks’ award. We were up against networks that had been established for over 20 years with over 5,000 members! So we were pleased that we got that far, although sadly we did not win this time.

    However, more important than winning the award, were the kind comments we got from you, our members. It makes the tireless hard work we’ve put in over the last 8 years worthwhile and our pledge to you is to continue providing thought provoking and interesting networking events and mentoring dinners.

    Thank you again to all those who nominated us, the whole steering committee really appreciates it and we look forward to growing even bigger and stronger over the next 8 years!

  • Wednesday, November 04, 2015 14:06 | Anonymous

    Our latest event was a fascinating look into offshore fraud investigations with a focus on asset tracing and recovery.  It was particularly interesting to learn how regulators in offshore jurisdictions may be able to assist victims of fraud in the recovery of their monies.

    Mark Ballamy, a forensic accountant and the Senior Partner of Ballamy LLP, explained the UK’s equitable rules of asset tracing illustrating each rule with a diagram depicting a fraudulent transaction. Mark explained how the rules of asset tracing have evolved over time and how they are continuing to evolve.  The recent introduction of the concept of “a co-ordination” between funds received by a fraudster and the disbursement of those funds by the fraudster introduces the possibility of circumventing the overdraft rule and the lowest intermediate balance rule in appropriate circumstances. Mark’s overriding message was that those tracing assets need to be aware of the rules but must be ready to challenge these rules to assure fairness for the victims of fraud.

    David Wilson is a Jersey lawyer with Lacey Advocates and has accumulated over 25 years’ experience as a commercial and trust litigator.  David explained the determination of the Jersey Financial Services Commission and the Jersey Royal Court in preserving the island’s excellent reputation as a safe and reliable place in which to conduct business.  David then explained the various remedies available in Jersey to victims of fraud to recover monies both from fraudsters and from those who owe victims duties of care.  David emphasised that the Royal Court always strives to achieve fair outcomes and, in fulfilling this objective, is empathetic to victims of fraud in seeking to recover losses.  David’s slides may be viewed here.   

    Jamie Biddle was the Deputy Director of Enforcement at the Jersey Financial Services Commission prior to joining Lacey Advocates earlier this year.  Jamie explained the circumstances in which offshore regulators such as the JFSC may be able to exercise their powers to assist victims of fraud.  Jamie illustrated how offshore regulators may be able to assist by referring to a recent example of the JFSC encouraging a Jersey trust company to compensate investors of losses as an integral part of an overall settlement of regulatory disagreements between the JFSC and the trust company.  Jamie’s slides can be viewed here.

    Our next event is to be held in Birmingham on Thursday 12 November and will cover corporate governance and compliance. With the assistance of DLA Piper’s award winning film, “At What Cost?” the session will consider issues arising from the expansion in Asia of fictional company Epticom, where a cultural shift in the company sparks unfamiliar multi-jurisdictional regulatory and legal challenges, including fraud, bribery and insider dealing. For more information and to book your place, please click here.  

  • Tuesday, October 20, 2015 08:54 | Anonymous

    The Fraud Women’s Network has been going strong now for over 8 years and we’re all really proud of how much we’ve achieved. From a small gathering in the pub back in 2004, formalising in 2007 to several hundred members and some fantastic events, it’s been an incredible journey.

    Therefore we were so very excited to be nominated for Inter-Sector Network of the Year by the Inclusive Networks. The Inclusive Awards are the first ever large scale awards dedicated to network groups, and celebrate the work and positive impact these networks have. The awards reward the work of the teams who have shown extraordinary commitment and dedication to supporting employees, the wider community and help influence the views of the wider public.

    All of us at the Fraud Women’s Network want to say THANK YOU for all your kind words, support and nominations for this award. The steering committee dedicates their time and expertise without any monetary reward as we feel so passionate about what we do. We find it especially rewarding when members attending our events are so complimentary about the professional events we organise and the interesting topics we cover.

    So please keep your fingers crossed for us! We will be heading up to Manchester to the award ceremony on the 19th November and can’t wait to see if we win the coveted award!

  • Monday, October 05, 2015 10:59 | Anonymous

    Our latest event, kindly sponsored by Kroll, was another resounding success. Focussing on Money Launderers’ secrets exposed, we had two fantastic speakers from Kroll and the National Crime Agency.

    Chis Ives, from Kroll covered some of the theory of Money Laundering including the 3 stages of placement, layering and integration which allows the criminal to move funds, conceal and eventually get access to these funds.

    Chris mentioned that money laundering can seem complicated but it doesn’t need to be. Bribery and corruption has now moved on, in that the less obvious payments (for example politicians getting money paid into their bank accounts), are now decreasing. We are now seeing greater sophistication with different systems used to pay and hide transactions. For example billing out slush funds with false invoicing or buying assets on the fraudsters behalf such as paying school fees, are proving more popular.

    There will always be corruption, but how do we handle it? It pays to think like a crook to try and trace the funds to recover and discover them. Organisations need to ensure they are managing their internal and external threats.

    Chris mentioned a real rise in social engineering fraud as individuals are hacked. Scams such as the CEO scam are becoming popular. This will involve a member of staff in finance being contacted and entrusted with a ‘secret project’. The spoof email will come from the CEO and ask the staff member to transfer funds to an overseas bank account. They will use information that is in the public domain and increase the amounts progressively until someone notices.

    Chris is finding that cybercrime remains a big threat to UK business. For example using a simple phishing scam, the fraudsters will need domestic account mules. They will use low value amounts which are not picked up by the banking system and the mule then takes the money out and transfers via Western Union, obviously taking their cut first!

    To bear in mind however is that the more complex the scheme, the more people involved and therefore the more kinks in their trail.

    We have some fantastic new events coming up that are worth checking out. On 20th October in London we have Island Getaway: Demystifying Offshore Fraud Investigations. Our speakers will explain the reality of locating and recovering assets from offshore jurisdictions.

    Fraud Women’s Network will also be holding a regional event in Birmingham on 12th November, At What Cost: Corporate Government & Compliance. This joint event with DLA Piper will consider the issues arising from the expansion in Asia of fictional company Epticom, where a cultural shift in the company sparks unfamiliar multi-jurisdictional regulatory and legal challenges, including fraud, bribery and insider dealing, for board members and senior staff.

    For more information and to register for these events, please visit our events page. 

  • Thursday, September 03, 2015 12:39 | Anonymous


    We’re all rather excited at the Fraud Women’s Network as we’ve been shortlisted for our first ever award! With thanks to everyone who nominated us, we are pleased to announce that we’re up for Inter-Sector Network of the Year!

    All our committee members work furiously throughout the year, all in their spare time, to ensure that Fraud Women’s Network members get access to some fantastic events and networking opportunities. These unique awards aim to celebrate and reward the hard work and positive impact of network groups. You can find out more information here

    The award ceremony will be taking place in Manchester on 19th November 2015. Keep your fingers and toes crossed for us!

    And as if that wasn’t enough… we’ve also been honoured as an ‘Awesome Network’ (#Awesome100). Toni Sless, Founder and Chairwoman of the Fraud Women’s Network states “We are truly delighted to be recognised as an 'Awesome Network'. The Fraud Women's Network has worked tirelessly over the last 8 years to provide all women working in the areas of fraud prevention, detection and investigation, a forum to share ideas and best practice in an informal networking setting. We are also very proud to have raised almost £5,000 for our affiliated charity The Eve Appeal. Here's to the next 8 years!”

  • Tuesday, July 21, 2015 10:17 | Anonymous

    One of our latest events was hosted by KPMG and focussed on Rogue Traders. The packed room were treated to some fantastic presentations from James Maycock and Marcus Kinlay, who are Directors at KPMG and Carroll Barry-Walsh who is the Head of the Regulatory Investigations Group for EMEA at UBS.

    James kicked off the presentations by describing the life of a Rogue Trader as a very stressful existence. They have a daily battle of hiding risks and daily profits and loss and have ongoing funding issues as they need to make margin calls. They also have to manage all the different systems from Risk to Treasury and the fact that they are all being reconciled together. This points to the fact that most Rogue Traders have worked in the back office previously so they have an idea of the cracks in internal controls that only the traders and not the managers know about.

    On a macro level these cracks could include a lack of challenge or management information not being acted upon. On a micro level this may be the use of an internal counterparty for a trade as they may not require confirmation of a trade.

    Behavioural traits of a rogue trader tend towards an individual who thrives on stress, have big personal account positions, may be in debt, seen as stars in the organisation and don’t take much holiday.

    In Marcus’ presentation he called for institutions to be more proactive. Marcus states that most systems are quite fragmented and there is a strong case for automation so the huge amounts of information can be digested easily.  He stated that the key needs for surveillance of traders are:

    • 1.       Focused – Which traders you need to keep a close eye on
    • 2.       Holistic – Understand the aspects of the individual
    • 3.       Prioritised – See the unusual behaviours
    • 4.       Effective – Understanding the information to determine if it really is a rogue trader or market abuse

    By looking at all factors such as communications (which can be very blatant) and staff performance you can look at their normal levels of activity and highlight when their performance rises or falls above that level.

    Carroll wrapped up the evening with a very entertaining presentation on her experiences working in this field. She stated that the biggest risk in the industry is who you hire. The quality of the people you have working for you is critical and you want someone you can trust who will do the right thing even when no-one else is looking.

    Carroll mentioned that it was vital that the person being hired was fully checked out to ensure that their story holds up. After this management shouldn’t just rely on pretty spreadsheets to spot rogue traders, but actually walk around and manage their staff directly.

    Money can make people behave very irrationally and you should never overestimate greed or underestimate stupidity.  Look at those traders who have never made a loss as the best people are those who are learning from their mistakes. I think the best take away point from Carroll’s presentation is that you need curiosity and courage in an organisation to stop rogue trading.

    All in all, another fantastic evening event from the Fraud Women’s Network!

  • Monday, May 18, 2015 11:43 | Anonymous

    If you’re a woman working in the anti-fraud space, you’re well aware of how male dominated it can be. Even if you’re not in the space, the aforementioned statement should come as little to no surprise. I was discussing this back in 2007 with some other industry colleagues and we decided to set up the Fraud Women’s Network. The main premise being, to bring together women involved in all aspects of fraud prevention—detection, investigation and prosecution—to network and share best practices in order to tackle the threat from fraud and organised crime head on.

    We were impressed by how quickly we grew our membership base. Now with more than 120 full-time members encompassing many years of fraud prevention expertise, we educate and mentor others and hold several events each year from breakfast briefings on fraud in the art world to the latest in dating fraud and how it’s being tackled by the police.

    At our recent annual event, our theme was : Are you the weakest link? Victims and vulnerability in the modern age. We always spend a lot of time formulating our agendas and had two fantastic speakers from both Cifas and the FCA who gave their insights into the ever growing problems of fraud scams targeting both consumers and businesses in the UK. We attracted almost 100 delegates on the day, both male and female!  

    Simon Dukes from Cifas kicked off the evening session as he discussed how criminals have started doing their cost/effort analysis and found fraud to be a lucrative business.  In 1992, 847 bank branches were raided, yet in 2013 only 89 had the same fate. Why? Banks are now less vulnerable. They have less cash held on site and CCTV now has much clearer images. Committing fraud online is much easier. You are much less likely to get caught and if you do, then the penalties are much lower than raiding your local HSBC.

    With Cifas estimating that a fraud is committed every second in the UK, it’s getting harder to protect ourselves and there are more vulnerable groups emerging. Surprisingly the 21-30 year old age bracket is a growing group for fraud scams, partly as they live most of their lives online now. Education is going to be key, especially for those 7.1 million people in the UK who have never used the internet.

    Mark Francis from the FCA covered Investment Fraud and the huge £1.2 billion lost a year through this scam. It can include ‘get rich quick’ schemes as well as shore fraud and unauthorised collective investment schemes. 

    Mark stated that consumer education has been working with the boiler room frauds but it’s within a fraudster’s nature to evolve and they will become ever more ingenious with their techniques. These scams are particularly effective on retired couples who have resources and confidence in managing their money. They can sadly lose very large sums of money to these relentless fraudsters.

    As a not for profit organisation, we work closely with and rely upon not only the tireless contributions of our steering committee, but also our very generous sponsors. Without their support, we would be unable to offer these valuable sessions.

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info@fraudwomensnetwork.com | Fraud Women's Network, PO Box 60454, London E8 9DA | +44 (0)7534 494 779
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