How I Built a Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination Program

How I Built a Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination Program

When I started teaching at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, I was the first full-time accounting instructor they had hired. There was a small team in the Department of Business that included five full-time professors and a handful of adjuncts, but the school and the business department were growing. During the summer of 2013, my chair called and asked if I’d be willing to write the curriculum for an entire bachelor’s degree program in forensic accounting and fraud examination. In hindsight, I really should have asked more questions! But not knowing what all this entailed, I jumped in with both feet and said yes.

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Take Your Training to the Next Level

FROM THE RESOURCE GUIDE

Charles Piper, CFE, CRT
Owner, Charles Piper's Professional Services

Several years ago, before retiring from federal service, I attended an interviewing course for law enforcement officers. I had completed a few interviewing courses before that one, but this particular instructor’s approach was different. The trainer began his introduction by asking our group several basic questions:

Instructor: “How often do you train with your firearms?” Most of the responses were, “Once per quarter.”

Instructor: “How many times have you shot your weapon in the line of duty?” Nobody said a word. The instructor eventually dragged out of us that no one in the room had ever shot their weapon in the line of duty.

Instructor: “How often do you train using your handcuffs?” Most of the students again responded, “Once per quarter.”

Instructor: “How many arrests do you make per day?” The responses varied from one or two per day to one per week and one per month.

Instructor: “How many of you conduct interviews?” Everyone in the class raised their hands.

Instructor: “How many interviews do you conduct a day?” The responses varied from a few to a couple of dozen every single day.

Instructor: “How many of you have previously completed interview training?” Surprisingly, only about half of the students raised their hands.

Instructor: “How many of you would you agree that interviewing is a tool?” All of the students raised their hands.

Instructor: “Isn't that interesting? You all agree that interviewing is a tool. You practice with some of your tools. You practice using your firearm on a quarterly basis, but you never shoot it while on duty. You practice using your handcuffs on a quarterly basis, but you might only use them once a week on average. But you conduct lots of interviews every day and some of you have never received any training on how to use that tool or last received such training when you went through the police academy years ago.”

The instructor made me realize that the training needs of all investigators, fraud examiners and law enforcement officers are not being met, even after they’ve completed all required training. Is that because of a lack of training opportunities, or is it because of a lack of pursuit of training opportunities?

With a brand new year upon us, wouldn’t it be wise for us all to strive to improve our existing professional skills? Even seasoned professionals like me (who just happen to be members of AARP) can still learn a thing or two by taking advantage of training opportunities.

For example, new technology and anti-fraud software keeps getting better (and for me more complicated). Those of us who are fortunate enough to be members of the ACFE have access to some of the world’s best formal anti-fraud training, webinars, podcasts, books and annual conferences. The bi-monthly Fraud Magazine provides great insight from professionals who investigate and examine industries that sometimes I didn’t even know existed.

As you know, those of us who are Certified Fraud Examiners (CFEs) also have requirements to earn a certain number of Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits on an annual basis. Unlike some professional organizations, the ACFE provides us with a smorgasbord of training opportunities year-round, held at various locations around the world. You know the type of training that you enjoy — why not stretch it a little? Ask some other fraud fighters what they thought of a course you’re considering taking.

Prior to opening my own private investigation and consulting company, I developed somewhat of an expertise in the investigation of health care fraud, bribery and corruption, and contract and procurement fraud. The ACFE offers training courses in all three.

The schemes used by fraudsters in those areas are fascinating, and the ways to launder money to pay bribes, kickbacks and hide assets are ever-changing. In my opinion, you can never get enough interview training (which the ACFE also offers).

Are you taking advantage of training opportunities so that you can, to quote an old Army slogan, “Be All You Can Be” — or are you doing just enough to get by?

This is a new year, a year to progress, and by improving our professional skills this will be a year that even more fraudsters pay the price for their misdeeds.

Knock out your CPE at one of our upcoming live events: Bribery and Corruption in Phoenix, Jan. 26-27; Auditing for Internal Fraud in San Antonio, Jan. 29-30; and, Using Data Analytics to Detect Fraud in Orlando, Feb. 12-13. View a full list of our upcoming events and products in the latest ACFE Resource Guide.

Resolution #3: More Courses in More Cities

#3: MORE COURSES IN MORE CITIES

My favorite part about being on the tennis team in high school was traveling to play schools in different cities. It wasn’t just about playing a match on a different court; it was also about the long and bumpy bus ride, the crowded hotel rooms and the new relationships formed over a shared love of the game. Fraud fighters share a similar “love of the game.” It isn’t only about seeing someone go to jail or hearing a judgment in your favor; it’s about the journey to justice, the evidence uncovered and the victory of exposing a fraud or stopping it in its tracks.

In 2014, fraud fighters will have the opportunity to learn new skills and expand their existing skillset, connect with peers and discover the latest anti-fraud tools during more events in more cities. With increasing challenges ahead this year and additional members in more cities, there are even greater opportunities for us to help you perfect your game.

Here are some of the new courses we will host and new places we will go in 2014:

U.S./Canada

25th Annual ACFE Global Fraud Conference
San Antonio; June 15-20

Asia-Pacific Region

Bribery and Corruption
Hong Kong; January 20-21
Jakarta; August 25-26

Conducting Internal Investigations
Auckland; February 13-14

Professional Interviewing Skills
Sydney; February 17-18

Using Data Analytics to Detect Fraud
Singapore; April 24-25

Fraud Risk Management
Kuala Lumpur; August 20-21

Europe

2014 ACFE European Fraud Conference
Amsterdam; March 23-25

Financial Statement Fraud
London; August 18-19

We look forward to seeing you more in 2014! You can find a full list of upcoming seminars at ACFE.com.

Sharing Is Caring: Why I Like to Learn from Others' Experiences

GUEST BLOGGER

Laura Hymes, CFE
ACFE Managing Editor

You might think that after all the casebooks I’ve worked on with ACFE founder and Chairman Dr. Joseph T. Wells (four and counting), I would be jaded and mumble things under my breath like, “Well, I’ve heard it all. None of these cases can surprise me.” But, it's quite the contrary. With each new project we start, I get excited about hearing directly from our members about the frauds they’ve investigated and what sort of lessons we can learn from their experiences.

The stories that we have included in the newly published Insurance Fraud Casebook: Paying a Premium for Crime delve into new depths of human folly, hubris and, at times, even depravity. I had no idea that insurance fraud could be so fascinating, but the cases in this collection are some of the most gripping fraud schemes I’ve ever read. And they are all real cases, investigated by real CFEs and members. I had to remind myself of that while I was reading about a man suspected of murdering his wife (the fraudster, not the CFE!) and Mexican drug-cartel members threatening an adjuster. Our peers spend their days investigating these crimes and many others like them, and I still get blown away by that fact sometimes. And that is one of the many reasons I enjoy working on this casebook series with Dr. Wells — I briefly get to facilitate a process through which anti-fraud professionals can share their experiences and learn from each other.

Of course, the ACFE offers a wealth of learning opportunities, but I feel like there is something special about reading a practitioner’s own account of his or her adventures pursuing criminals, gathering evidence, bringing about a resolution and then distilling lessons to apply in future work. They say that experience is the best teacher, but a close second is learning from other people when you lack experience. I enjoy seeing how other individuals handle challenges at work and approach difficult assignments; often it is different from what my approach would be. That alone — learning to see the world from a new perspective and taking the time to consider a new solution to an old problem — would be reason enough for me to continue working on these books. But in addition, I get to work with wonderful anti-fraud professionals and read gripping tales of bad guys and girls being tracked down and brought to justice. Not too shabby.

You can find the new Insurance Fraud Casebook: Paying a Premium for Crime in the ACFE Bookstore here. And trust me, you haven’t heard it all. You haven’t even come close.