No big fish story here - this is the one that didn't get away!   A collaborative effort with results measured in big dollars, big impact on the bottom line, or big changes in operational policy, this is an investigation that is noteworthy for making an impact and making a difference.  

The Investigation of the Year is about the case, and the whole case - but not "nothing but the case", because this category is intended to recognize the people, the process and the result, which may include the effect the investigation had on others, on the community, and on the industry.  To be eligible for nomination, the investigation must have concluded or culminated to the point of prosecution, during the calendar year of the award nomination.   The investigation is eligible for nomination by anyone that was involved with it, or that has public, or intimate, knowledge of the specific case details.  

We do ask that you please keep the details to a high level, referencing only information that is known publicly, and that you are sensitive to not share any information that is restricted, confidential, or otherwise classified.

To recognize a specific individual as a consistent performer when it comes to investigations, please consider nominating under the Investigator of the Year category.  


Click below to see the list of Finalists and Winners for all categories.  

meet this year's finalists...

Investigation of the Year Finalist #1: "I Remember MY First Refund"

Here's what people are saying about this great investigation:
In 2023, Detectives from Chicago Police's Organized Retail Crime Task Force were contacted by
Jacob Krippel and Dave Ketelson, Investigators from Home Depot, who discovered a large scale scheme defrauding Home Depot. The scheme was conducted through falsified sales tax returns in exchange for store credit issued on gift cards. A subject posing as a customer presented cashiers a receipt from a 2020 purchase order. This receipt was assigned a specific bar code. Due to an internal computer issue, this order was able to be scanned through the system and issue refunds over 6,000 times, with a loss to Home Depot of $6 million. Any refund following the first refund would be false store credit issued and constitute a theft, creating 6,000 felonious incidents in this time. The subject presenting the receipt claimed to be sales tax exempt and present a tax exemption which was then scanned through the system by cashiers. The cashier would manually enter
$900 and scan that amount onto gift cards, multiple refunds were issued per visit. Many Home Depot locations were affected by this scheme. A pattern was discovered and the ORCTF began conducting surveillance of the scheme in live time along with investigators. Through many covert surveillances ORCTF detectives observed 167 felony incidents for a loss of $150,000. ORCTF began to follow the subjects, identified them, and recovered evidence discarded by the offenders. 4 Home Depot cashiers and 3 other subjects were arrested and charged in this scheme. Charges included Continuing Financial Crime Enterprise and Theft over $1million. Multiple cashiers were responsible for over $1 million in losses. Nearly $30,000 in stolen gift cards were recovered. Due to the discovery by Krippel and Ketelson, Home Depot was able to recover over $1 million in store credit issued. Due to this investigation by Home Depot ORC investigators and CPD, Home Depot was able to stop the ongoing scheme costing them millions in losses and were able to cut ties with internal employees that were facilitating the felonious thefts.
Investigation of the Year Finalist #2: "Operation Family Affair", an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation
Here's what people are saying about this great investigation:
The Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), New England El Dorado Task Force (NE-EDTF) is submitted for the 2023-2024 "Investigation of the Year Award" for their measured success suppressing a violent Organized Retail Crime (ORC) group which operated along the East coast. Agents and analysts of the NE-EDTF, worked with their local, state, and federal law enforcement partners, as well as the New England Organized Retail Crime Alliance (NEORCA) and filed complaints for a case that sets the future for federal ORC cases involving street gangs. The NE­ EDTF set the standard nationally for federal ORC cases by connecting street gangs funding to ORC, which initiated the first Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation for ORC investigations. This investigation resulted in Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) charges against gang members in Boston, Massachusetts. The OCDETF investigation was named "Operation Family Affair", and the Heath Street Gang was targeted as a RICO case for their involvement in a multi-state organized theft and refund fraud scheme. Warrants were successfully executed on the morning of February 14, 2024, for the arrests of over 40 gang members and associates, and the seizure of over 60 firearms, bulk currency, and narcotics. As a direct result of the NE-EDTF following the money trail, working with over 20 law enforcement partners and retail victims, the potential cumulative sentencing for the 41 gang members is 580 years in prison and fines up to $25.5 million. Immobilizing the gang's hierarchy allowed the Boston Police leadership to meet with parents and teens in the areas that were recently controlled by the gang. This enables the city to introduce other resources to help the teens avoid a life of crime and encourage positive community relationships. The NE-EDTF works with the Organized Retail Crime Alliance community nationally by providing ORC awareness and how HSI can help your investigation. The blueprint for an OCDETF/RICO investigation to suppress ORC has been established and will be used as a template for future cases. This case example is encouraged for other ORCAs to build on within their area of responsibility.