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If you’ve been in the fraud fighting industry for nearly two decades you might recall when the Premiere Issue of The John Cooke Fraud Report hit the streets the first week of May 1994. The fraud investigation world was in serious need of a communication vehicle so the timing was right. What began as a 13-states (Western US) publication answered the demand to cover all 50 states by the end of 1994. In 1995 we added Canada and in 1996 the world. The Internet was in its infancy and shared information and training materials were devoured with frenzied gusto. At our pinnacle the subscriber list numbered 16 400.
The John Cooke tag line was “Fighting Fraud Through Communication and Education” and John was often heard saying things like “there ain’t no such thing as a single-line criminal” and “an investigator’s value is measured by the number of his contacts.” Perhaps the most astounding thing about our subscriber base was that our audience included investigators law enforcement personnel members of the judiciary lawmakers attorneys private investigators insurance adjusters bank examiners federal state local officialdom and everything in between. We served as the tie that bound — telling financial crimes people what insurance crimes people were doing and sharing what was standard information in one arena with other groups that had no idea certain things could be done. So many cases were solved by shared knowledge the impact was felt far and wide.
In 1996 we did a readership survey and among other things tried to determine what our marketing “pass along rate” was. Survey takers were instructed to check the appropriate box after the question “How many people will read this copy of The John Cooke Fraud Report?” The choices were 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 or 8 or more. Our pass along rate came in at 6.8 — translating to an estimated 80 percent of responders checking the 8 or more box. In the world of magazine publishing nobody had ever heard of a rate that high. And had we added a few more boxes it would have been higher yet. I remember the day when a lady called and asked if we could please send a second copy of the latest issue. “I was reading an article and it said ‘continued on page 26 ’ but when I went to page 26 it was torn out ” she told me “but I am the 42nd person in my office to initial this front page ….”
Yes we sent the replacement copy. The downer feeling of “cheap dogs” was trumped by the upper feeling of “wow we’re being read …” And so it went every two months a new issue featuring things like “Deep Sea Fraud ” Internet Security ” “International Investigations ” “The Art of Recorded Statements ” “Internet Investigations ” “Medical Reports ” “Prevention vs. Recovery ” “Detecting Fraud on the Telephone ” “Product Counterfeiting ” “Expert Witnesses ” “Money Laundering ” “Staged Auto Accidents ” “Emerging Crime Emerging Nation” (Russia) “Inside West Africa” (Nigeria) “European Auto Theft” (Poland) and the list went on and on. Thousands of hours on planes at conferences speaking/training in far away places writing interviewing hoisting boxes supporting Fed-Ex … and then nearly getting killed by a lunatic taking a left across a 50 mph traffic highway.
With the popularity of the Internet increasing (and the physical limitations of almost being broken in two) John Cooke crossed over into online publishing. The John Cooke Fraud Report became — with the help of Diana McGinness — an Internet resource housing 13 years of published articles and a “Toolbox” that to this very day is one of the best kept secrets in the desk top investigating world (www.johncooke.com).
At the same time John Cooke took on yet another challenge — this time responding to the need for public education — and Fight Fraud America came in with that same tag line. “Fighting Fraud Through Communication and Education.” You’ll see more on FFA later in this issue (page 19). Finally in September of this year another epiphany. The Internet has become so popular that investigators go searching for the answers to very specific questions. Cross education without a printed copy of a fraud magazine to sit in your bathroom has gone the way of pogo sticks hula hoops and Lone Ranger re-runs. It took pulling a copy of the very first JCFR May 1994 to convince me to return to a print copy. Why? Because almost every article in that first issue could be re-printed today and still be mostly relevant.
So read learn increase your knowledge base and PASS IT ON. Our best chance to effectively fight fraud is via the roadway of education. If you can’t recognize it you can’t fight it. If you can’t fight it you can’t recognize it.
Yes we’re back. As long as these fingers can keep hitting the keys as long as Susan Clarke (the world’s best proofreader) keeps me on my toes and as long as our generous contributors keep contributing (Barry, Burke, Diana – welcome back!) … there will be a copy of JCFR getting signed off by 42 people or heading home in the bags of convention attendees. We’re aiming for a ‘something for everyone’ format this time around plus subscribers will get the added bonus of an online ID/password which will grant access to a treasure trove of teaching materials and desk-top investigating assistance via the John Cooke Toolbox.
Yup, we’re baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack.