What Does a Special Agent Do? - YouTube video text script


Typical day, I'd come in to review, analyze records, maybe have a schedule to interview witnesses. Methods used to collect evidence can include a variety of investigative tactics and techniques. Basically, identifying witnesses and conducting interviews, gaining handwriting samples, serving summonses and subpoenas to get information, and then performing the analysis of that information. Doing consensually monitored telephone calls, initiating undercover operations, working jointly with other agents and other agencies, whether state, federal or local, to get information that's necessary for the case. Special agents conduct interviews of a variety of subjects and witnesses. They can include professionals, business owners, executives, all spectrums of society.

Because every financial investigation involves money, and if it involves money, it somehow involves the IRS. Other ways that special agents collect evidence can be courthouse research. Going to the courthouse, pulling records on properties, tax records, tax liens, things like that.

It is going to be voluminous in terms of the types of information that most new agents have ever had to analyze in the way that we do. So, for instance, you may end up with several file cabinets full of papers and documents.

You may end up with lots of computer data, and you have to work with a computer investigative specialist to try to sort it out and organize it and figure out what it all means. You, as a special agent, is ultimately responsible for a case, once it's assigned to you. And, once you determine whether you have a case to go forward, you're going to plan out your role of action. We always want to work in tandem for safety purposes when we're out doing interviews. We always have a secondary agent. When we're out doing trash runs, we have secondary agents.

When we're doing search warrants, we have a number of different agents for safety purposes. When I'm examining documents, I'm looking for items that don't match up to what's being reported to the government. We get a lot of financial records like bank statements, credit card records and the only way really to analyze those types of records are to create spreadsheets. We have to review them and analyze them to see if they have anything valuable in them. And then very often from the analysis, we're able to identify other leads. A Special Agent Report is our final product that actually goes forward to our manager and then on to the Department of Justice for consideration for prosecution. And that final product basically tells the story of the case, and you have to be able to write it in a way that a person that doesn't know anything about the case at all can pick this up and have a very clear, concise understanding of the investigation.

And see that yes, clearly this is a case that should go forward for criminal prosecution. It's important to show our findings clearly and accurately for the purposes of prosecution. So, when our report goes to the U.S. Attorney's Office, they have all the information they need to prosecute the case.

First of all, you're dealing with an alleged criminal, and we don't want to present information that is not accurate and charge somebody with a crime that they didn't do. There is no room for error. There is no room for judgment.

It is just the facts of what happened. So as a special agent, we're required to be on call 24 hours a day. We drive government owned vehicles for enforcement activities. We are required to carry our weapons and be proficient in the use of firearms and other defensive tactics. Often times you're dealing with people, you know they're not going to be happy to see you.

In addition to being accountants, we're also law enforcement officers, which is very interesting because a lot of the special agents that work for the IRS, they don't come from a law enforcement background. We get to do the same things like all the other law enforcement officers do. Things happen. We have to be able to respond, so we have to be ready. So, we teach our agents to fire a firearm to be able to shoot.

We teach them defensive tactics and methods of defending themselves and protecting others as well. So, they go through that entire process so that not only can they analyze records, but they also have that law enforcement component. We do carry weapons, we carry handcuffs and we execute arrest warrants and search warrants.

It's not what's on television. You don't wrap the case up in an hour with commercials. It is very, very different. It's very intense. It can be. You can work very long hours and it can be very demanding. You're working for the taxpayers.

We go out, we enforce the laws. Everybody should be paying taxes. That's how our roads get built. That's how the police get paid. Some of the things that I think that are surprising for new agents is just the amount of teamwork, the structure that is involved and in terms of our processes and approvals to get things done, working jointly with other agents. Because you can't work an investigation by yourself. There are tasks that you perform as a special agent on your own. Most things that you do, you're going to have to work with others, so you need to be able to work well with others.

I would say in the beginning, they're going to spend more time in the office because there's certain things they're going to have to research that they just don't know from experience yet. And they're probably going to need a little more mentoring, obviously, when they first come on board. And that's usually done in the office. I would say it's anywhere from 70% in the office, 30% in the field to possibly 50/50 once they've gotten some time underneath them.

We have a lot of collateral assignments that we can volunteer for.

For example, a lot of the time people that have foreign language skills, if they're needed, they get to travel all over the US and sometimes to the other parts of the world. They get to use their special agent skills.

We have special agents that volunteered to be tech agents, to be defensive tactics coordinators, firearms coordinators, recruiters. There's a lot of different facets to the job that we have access to that. In addition to being a special agent, we can go out and do all these other things.

One of the areas that is up and coming, obviously, is internet fraud and computer crimes, and we're very involved in that arena as well. And we also have forensic special agents that conduct forensic type of work on the computers.

We look at individuals or corporations that aren't paying their taxes, and we essentially we put them in jail. I think the big difference is we have more of a background in accounting and our investigations focus more on the financial crimes, the tax crimes.

We, we follow the money. We're the only agency that has investigative authority over the Internal Revenue Code. Being a special agent is probably the best of both worlds where you get to actually work financial investigations and utilize accounting and tax knowledge.

But it is very much a law enforcement position. As law enforcement agents, we're required to work what's called law enforcement availability, which we have to work 50 hours a week. For me when I first started, I found myself working a lot more than 50 hours a week.

You get called in on the weekends, you get called in early mornings or late nights and you're out there in the field when the general public is normally available. And one of the biggest challenges as a special agent is balancing your home life with your work life.

If you have the spouse or significant other at home, you may have to cancel plans or you're going to be late, and they have to be understanding. The work may come up on an inopportune time where you may have a kid's birthday party at a time that there's some surveillance that has to be done on that particular day because this particular activity that the bad guys out there doing is going to go down like right now.

Our special agents attend the federal law enforcement training academy for a six-month period, and it's generally two phases. The first phase is the Criminal Investigator training program where you learn constitutional law, you learn about search warrants, you learn how to use a firearm, you learn how to do defensive driving techniques. And then the second phase is administered by the IRS and you learn how you learn about tax laws.

You learn how to work tax investigations. You still participate in defensive tactics and physical fitness programs, and you still train with your firearm. Those are two the two phases in the Federal Law Enforcement Training Academy. It was a good experience working with the instructors.

They sit down and they work with you. They show you all the parts of the weapon, how it works, how do you use it, how to be safe with it. And for me, it was, it was an awarding experience.

I would say the most fulfilling thing about being a special agent is working a case from start to finish and seeing a case come to fruition and seeing all the fruits of your labor come to an end game and you're successful in placing a person that was guilty behind bars and also being able to fend for the people out there that may be innocent victims in a case and also looking out for the honest taxpayer who pays his taxes every year. The thing that I found most rewarding was being able to really do good for the public.

The most fulfilling thing I've done as a special agent was to work on the terrorist task force after 9/11. You must be a very strong oral and written communicator, must have great organizational skills and be able to manage your time and multiple activities at once. As special agents, we're required to put pieces of the puzzle together.

Follow the money. Turn over rocks. Look wherever the evidence may be, and so if you are innately inquisitive, then I think this is a great job. You have to be analytical. You've got to be good with numbers. This is a numbers job. You have to be well versed in accounting and you should be in shape because we do arrest warrants. We do search warrants. And when you come up against a bad guy, you've got to be prepared to do what needs to be done.