CFE Uses Data Skills to Bridge the Gap Between Two Career Dreams


Jeremy Clopton, CFE, CPA, ACDA
Senior Managing Consultant at BKD Forensics

Jeremy Clopton, CFE, CPA, is a Senior Managing Consultant at BKD Forensics in the forensics and valuation services division, and is a recurring author of the Fraud EDge column in Fraud Magazine. Clopton focuses on data analytics for fraud prevention and detection, and he works with other CFEs in his division to use data analytics for investigative purposes. “Data analytics can be used to enhance the perception of detection,” Clopton says. “Organizations that use analytics have the opportunity to focus their efforts on transactions of higher risk and do so more quickly than organizations without analytics. I am a firm believer that the fight against fraud is much more effective when it’s fought with preventive measures within an organization rather than after it’s occurred.”

How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?

Growing up I wanted to be an attorney, but after discovering accounting, I decided it was the career I wanted pursue. In high school, I shadowed a CFE for job experience, and it became clear to me that being a CFE would give me the chance to enjoy the best parts of being an accountant while still working with attorneys. After entering the profession, I’ve been amazed at the lengths to which people will go just to commit fraud. Fighting fraud is definitely challenging, because fraudsters are always using new methods — or variations on old methods — to commit fraud. The constant innovation and creativity required to keep up with these schemes drives my passion.

What steps led you to your current position?

When I started in the forensics division of BKD, I had a knack for Excel and an interest in statistics. This led me to some interesting investigation projects and the chance to learn more about data mining and analytics. About a year into my career, I started using ACL software and focused on the use of data mining in fraud examinations. Since then I’ve expanded my toolset to include other analytics products, and I now work with organizations to use data analytics for investigations, prevention and fraud risk management.

What’s one tip you have for people working in data analytics?

Don’t be afraid to try. Data analytics, especially with large data sets, can be intimidating. To get started, you must be willing to accept that you might not succeed on your first effort. The key is to learn from that experience and make the next even better. Failure is an option as long as you are willing to use that failure as a springboard for success.

Why is using data analytics important in the fight against fraud?

Many fraud schemes affect a very small number of transactions in an organization, especially when compared to the total population of transactions. Pulling a sample of items as a preventive measure is no longer enough. Data analytics allows an organization to have 100 percent coverage when testing their transactions. Rather than pulling a sample of items from the full populations, we can now pull transactions that are exceptions to normal business expectations for follow-up and research. Using a dashboard of fraud risk indicators, organizations can quickly see where their highest risks exist.

What hobbies or activities do you like to do outside of work?

I enjoy spending my time with my wife and kids. We tend to be an active family, spending time running, enjoying the outdoors, playing sports or, on occasion, just relaxing on the deck with friends and family.

Read Jeremy's full profile in the Career Center on