Reel value: Use movies for anti-fraud training


Films can be powerful tools to teach staff about fraud. Let me tell you about Cinema Circle, an anti-fraud training program that's cheap, memorable and meaningful for employees from entry level through the C-suite. The program's aims to build fraud and compliance awareness through the use of motion pictures.

Here's how the program worked at my former company: Every quarter, we ordered 10 DVDs of a movie selected for its fraud and compliance themes. We loaned the DVDs to staff for home viewing. We prepared one-page handouts linking each film's themes to health insurance fraud, ethics, the HIPAA privacy rule, or aspects of operations and business management. Then we held hour-long lunch meetings (where we provided food) to discuss the films. We donated the DVDs to our local public library later.

A Cinema Circle program can use almost any film focusing on deliberate misrepresentation for wrongful gain, whether the plot involves insurance or not. Here are some movies to consider:

"Double Indemnity" (1944), a film noir classic with screenplay by Raymond Chandler about a woman and a salesman who murder her husband to collect big bucks from a life insurer. Edward G. Robinson stars as the claims adjuster who won't rest until he uncovers the fraud.

"The Fortune Cookie" (1966), starring Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon, about a cameraman who exaggerates the extent of a work-related injury to collect a huge indemnity.

"Eight Men Out" (1988), about major league baseball's Black Sox scandal in which members of the Chicago White Sox allegedly conspired with gamblers to throw the 1919 World Series.

"Quiz Show" (1994), about the rigged game show scandals of the 1950s.

"The Insider" (1999), based on the true story of tobacco industry whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand.

"Catch Me if You Can" (2002), a true-life crime drama about Frank Abagnale, who successfully performed check cons worth millions by posing as (among other things) a Georgia physician.

"Shattered Glass" (2003), about massive journalistic fraud by a former reporter for The New Republic.

Cinema Circle has four business advantages:    

First, it's inexpensive compared to off-the-shelf or vendor-produced training offerings. And you can make the program even more budget-friendly by co-sponsoring it with your compliance department and splitting the cost.

Second, managers appreciate lunch-hour training that doesn't take employees off production lines. 

Third, Cinema Circle is engaging. Which would you rather learn from: Snappy dialogue by Raymond Chandler or an out-of-the-box training that puts you to sleep? And Cinema Circle lends itself to engagement-building creativity. At the end of our discussion of "The Fortune Cookie," for example, we distributed fortune cookies with the compliance and anti-fraud hotline numbers printed on papers inside.

Finally, movies can heighten employee sensitivity to environmental "fraudian slips." So instead of using only your Special Investigations Unit to combat fraud, Cinema Circle training enlists others in the fight.

Suppose, for instance, one of your staff takes her mother to the optometrist and notices they put a diagnosis of "cataracts" on her claim. When the employee points out that her mom doesn't have cataracts, the receptionist nonchalantly says they put that diagnosis on claims for everyone over 70. Your employee may call the hotline after hearing this, since training attuned her to potential fraud cues. While your biggest cases may not come from a tip line, employee reports can still provide valuable fraud prevention intelligence.

Some disclaimers: Cinema Circle was designed to be a supplemental, voluntary program. It doesn't replace annual all-employee compliance training that's mandatory for government contractors. Always preview movies for appropriateness, and tell staff in advance what the movies are rated and if they contain adult language or themes. Finally, if you're interested in running a program like this, check with your legal department first.

You may find, as I did, that a picture is worth a thousand training words. - Jane (@HealthPayer)

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