Learning the Ropes and Digging for Clues

By Betsy Piland - January 4th, 2021

Golden Eagle Amanda Skidd is Fighting Crime, One Claim at a Time

If you ever consider fudging some numbers on an insurance claim—think again. Aside from the fact that it’s just plain wrong to lie, it’s illegal, and insurance companies have entire teams of highly trained professionals whose sole job is to identify fraud. 

One of those pros is CSU Global graduate student Amanda Skidd, of Columbus, Ohio; she’s in the process of earning her Master of Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Administration with a Fraud Management Specialization. While not focused on her studies, she works full-time for Nationwide Insurance in the company’s Property Claims Department. 

Industry Experts Lead the Way

When it came time to pursue her master’s degree she said that it was CSU Global’s dedication to installing industry experts as faculty that led her to enroll. 

“[Dr. Michael Skiba] is the reason that I came to CSU Global. I found out about him in my personal research when trying to develop my career.” Skidd actually met Dr. Skiba at an International Association of Special Investigative Units (IASIU) conference—which also happened to be her first day of classes. “I walked up and introduced myself, ‘Hi, you have no idea who I am, but I joined the school because of you,’” Skidd said with a laugh.

Once she began taking courses, Skidd was able to work alongside Dr. Skiba as part of the CSU Global White Collar Crime Research Task Force. The task force partnered with the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud to analyze data across several areas of insurance fraud. Skidd said that it was fascinating to explore the vast differences between states regarding reporting requirements around suspicious claims, as well as guidelines on communications with customers or claimants. 

(Picture from left) Dr. Michael Skiba, with CSU Global students Alison Golwick and Amanda Skidd, at the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud event in Washington, DC, in December 2019.

Making a Difference

Skidd’s work, both in and out of the classroom, garnered attention in 2019 when she was named as the IASIU’s first recipient of the organization’s coveted Anti-Fraud Insurance Professional of the Year award. 

Active in both her local and international chapters of IASIU, Skidd says, “Insurance fraud is something that I am extremely passionate about combating. I was so grateful to get that award because it demonstrates that I’ve made a little bit of a difference.”

Ferreting Out Subtle Clues

Many people assume that being investigated means that there is a presumption of fraud, or that the job of an investigator is only to catch people doing something illegal. Skidd explained that just because an investigator reaches out doesn’t mean anything illegal happened. “Sometimes you just need more information. That’s one thing that I think that people don’t really consider about investigators. The investigator can help clarify that a loss did occur.”

Other times, something smells fishy for a reason. Skidd detailed one of the first suspicious claims she encountered when she worked in the auto insurance division: documentation that attempted to increase the value of a vehicle. “That individual got really unlucky. My background is in auto repair, so I happen to be familiar with invoice layouts.” She could tell right away that the invoice had been altered. 

Her current role at work is in the property division, where she works with renters and tenants. “What we see a lot of is people have a loss and they inflate it. So, someone’s home may have a break in and they say, ‘Yeah, I had 12 laptops and 50 necklaces, 35 rings, 20 Rolexes, and 30 Coach purses.’ That’s called inflation—a legitimate loss that’s increased by the customer. And it doesn’t always have to be drastic; sometimes it’s just a couple hundred dollars to try to cover the deductible.”

Looking to the Future

Digging into cases is what drives Skidd to keep reaching for that next step in her education and career, though it certainly hasn’t been easy. “It’s hard, but it’s definitely worth it,” she says. “I was actually thinking about this the other day, and I realized I’m about halfway through my program. I can look back and go, ‘Wow, look at how much I’ve done with all that I’ve learned!’”

These days, Skidd conducts preliminary background research as a claims adjuster, but she’s eager to move into full-time special investigations. “That’s where I feel that I’m strongest, and it’s where I feel like I can make the biggest difference.”

Beyond professional growth, Skidd wants to be sure to pay it forward. “I’ve been blessed to have several mentors, and I want to be able to pass that on to someone else,” she says. “[My mentors] have gone out of their way to make sure that I’m doing the best that I can. I want to be able to do that for those who are coming after me.”

Learn more: Industry Experts as Faculty | CSU Global’s MS in Criminal Justice

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