In this week’s Silent Witness, the forensic scientists try to find out what happened to a family’s money in the 30 years between a man’s death and the present day.
Unsurprisingly, they bring in other forensic experts, of the financial variety, to help them uncover the truth.
When used as an adjective, the word forensic means ‘relating to or denoting the application of scientific methods and techniques to the investigation of crime’.
As with a scientific investigation, a financial forensic investigator uses scientific methods and sophisticated technology to find out where money has been and how it has ‘travelled’.
In Silent Witness, the forensic investigators looked at the accounts of the deceased victim whose death was being investigated. They found them to be in a dire state in contrast to the state of his wife’s account after she received his life insurance money.
They soon spotted a large payment to his employer at the time of his death and regular payments to a cryogenics institute, which left the man’s widow destitute.
By adding up these factors, along with interviews with the employer, the widow, the Director of the institute and others, they found that the life insurance money had been fraudulently obtained, as the man had committed suicide. To ensure they could collect a payment against his insurance policy the ‘interested parties’ had buried his body and claimed he had gone missing in the hope he would be presumed dead.
In real-life financial investigations, forensic accountants are often brought in to build a picture of what has happened when money has been misappropriated.
Roger Isaacs, Forensic Partner at Milsted Langdon, said: “Although Silent Witness is very much designed for TV audiences, it does highlight the great lengths to which forensic investigators go, to build up a strong case in criminal proceedings.
“The factors in this fictional case were unique and certainly added drama to the episode, but there are parallels that can be drawn to real cases, which demonstrate the value of forensic accountants during a criminal investigations.”