Graduate Student: ‘Investigations Program Offers What No other School Has’
Arianna Padovano ’20, ’23 M.S., a first-generation student, says the University’s graduate degree program in investigations has helped her to feel prepared and current in her work as a cybercrime investigative analyst.
November 15, 2022
By Jackie Hennessey, Contributing Writer
Arianna Padovano ’20, ’23 M.S. loves her work as a cybercrime investigative analyst. It’s just the way the staff at the Manhattan District Attorney’s office described it when she was interviewing for the job: “You’re a detective, but without the gun and the badge.”
Each day, she digs into any one or more of her 18 active cases, where she does long-term investigations into cyberstalking, tech fraud, cryptocurrency scams, child pornography, money laundering, and gift-card fraud. She follows winding, complex trails to capture criminals.
“We do all our analysis, and go through records,” Padovano says. “We execute search warrants and send subpoenas and court orders to get the evidence we need. Usually, the targets in our cases have no idea they are being investigated.”
Some crimes are solved within weeks or months, such as a recent case involving a man who had stolen ATM card numbers and was cashing out the accounts of many people. He was arrested and the case was sent to a grand jury.
“That gave the victims some peace,” said Padovano. “That’s my favorite part of the job.”
‘I learn something new every single day’
Other crimes can take more than a year to solve, including one she’s currently working on, a check fraud-romance scam case where a man woos women online and then scams them and steals their money.
“This case involves hundreds and hundreds of victims,” she says.
And months and months of dogged pursuit.
It’s what Padovano says she was taught to do in her undergraduate work in criminal justice at the University of New Haven. And it’s central to her courses in the University’s online Master of Science in Investigations program, where she is pursuing a concentration in financial crimes. She thrives thinking nimbly and creatively about cases, working collaboratively, and resolutely tracking them to their conclusions.
She collaborates often with her colleagues in the DA’s office. “I have amazing co-workers who are all around the same age, and we’ve become close friends,” she says. “I’ve been here almost a year, and I learn something new every single day. I learn different ways to think about a case, or someone else will have an idea, or someone will ask me, and I’ll say, ‘Have you tried this?’”
'This is exactly what I wanted’
She says life is busy juggling work in the DA’s office and working on her online master’s degree, but she says she can’t get over how in-the-moment and current her courses are and how relevant they are to her daily work.
“I just finished a class in ‘Contemporary Topics in Investigation,’” she says. “The week I had an assignment due on preparing for a grand jury was the same week I testified before one. I felt calm when I testified because the class showed us technical approaches you can take, and how to prepare.”
After testifying, she reached out to her professor, Paul E. Zikmund, to tell him just how prepared the course made her. “I was very grateful,” she says.
At the moment, she’s taking “Current Topics in Corporate Investigations,” learning about the latest corporate investigations. “When I have free time, I’m looking into other cases I think are interesting,” she says. “Without this course, I wouldn’t be as current.”
The first in her family to receive a bachelor’s degree, Padovano says she is proud to now be pursuing her master’s.
“The Investigations program offers what no other school has,” she says. “In the financial crimes concentration, you can study either the private or public sector track or both. I want to eventually go into the private sector, and I’m working in the public sector now, so I get to learn about both. This is exactly what I wanted.”