Jump-Start Your Fraud Examination Career With Internships and Study Abroad Programs

Jump-Start Your Fraud Examination Career With Internships and Study Abroad Programs

Before beginning his career in bank examination, and later internal audit, Jacob Flournoy wishes he would have done more of one thing: listening. “I was probably told everything I needed to succeed by my trusted advisors. I just wish I had listened more to their advice,” said Flournoy, a CFE, and the Chief Audit Executive at the University of Arkansas System.

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CFE Ferrets Out Governmental Fraud in Sierra Leone

MEMBER PROFILE

Adama Renner, CFE, FCA
Deputy Audit General  
Audit Service Sierra Leone

Adama Renner, CFE, FCA, is no stranger to fraud, having been involved in fraud detection and prevention since the early 2000s. She serves as the Deputy Audit General of Audit Service Sierra Leone (ASSL) and has played an instrumental role in exposing high-level governmental corruption that led to multiple public servants suspended without pay. Renner recently attended her first ACFE Global Fraud Conference and found the experience to be inspiring and enlightening. “Listening to the presentations and interacting with fraud examiners from other fields helped me to appreciate how I can better undertake my audits in order to increase the chances of a successful prosecution in a court of law,” she said.

How did you become passionate about fighting fraud? 
After obtaining my bachelor’s degree in accounting, I started my career as a trainee auditor with KPMG in 1998 prior to obtaining my ACCA. As a young professional, I was trained to ensure full compliance with rules and procedures. I became concerned when during the course of my work, I began to be confronted with “false reporting” — that is, reports being falsified to present activities which were never undertaken, overstatement of work actually undertaken as against actual work carried out, or poor quality of work charged at high costs. This was my first exposure to fraud, and since then I have been committed to exposing misappropriations at every turn.

Through the lens of your work as the Deputy Audit General of the ASSL, do you believe there are any types of fraud issues unique to Sierra Leone?
I would not say any fraud issue is unique to Sierra Leone but rather, the reaction to fraud is what appears unique. Whereas in other jurisdictions, fraud is greatly frowned at, in Sierra Leone, the repercussions of being caught in fraud are virtually nonexistent.

What trends do you see on the horizon for fraud prevention and detection in your government or the world as a whole?
As fraud fighters, establishments like the ASSL and Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) have been coming up with strategies aimed at sensitizing the general public to the negative impact of fraud on the national economy. This awareness is gradually gaining ground, although not fast enough. Public servants are now required to submit updated asset declaration forms annually. The advent of social media has also increased public scrutiny and public awareness over issues of transparency and accountability.

You recently attended your first ACFE Global Fraud Conference. How did that impact you?
The networking opportunities, the availability of resources and the dedication of fraud fighters like [VA whistleblower] Dr. Sam Foote were truly motivating.

Over the years, teaming up with the ACC and attorney general’s office to investigate and charge cases of fraud detected during our audits have been met with challenges over the issue of admissible evidence. The presentations linking audit and investigations gave me a clearer understanding of the relationship between the roles of the auditor and the investigator in a fraud examination.

Finally, watching videos of convicted fraudsters is inspiring in a way, but having a live testimony was overwhelming. It brought the issue of fraudulent conduct closer to home and not as some far-fetched idea. I could see first hand how fraud has the potential to not just take all you ever gained but even leave your reputation and legacy in total ruin. That for me was mind-blowing and a proper climax to my first conference.

What activities or hobbies do you like to do outside of work?
Reading is my hobby. Meeting the authors of some of the books in the bookstore inspired me to get their books, and my target over the next few weeks is to read the books purchased from the bookstore during the conference.

Read Adama's full interview in the ACFE's online Career Center.

CFE Prevents Fraud Through Immersion and Communication

MEMBER PROFILE

Britta Bohlinger, CFE, MA, BSc
Founding Director, RisikoKlár
Frankfurt, Germany 

Britta Bohlinger, CFE, MA, BSc (Hons), Quality Manager and Auditor (IHK Berlin), founding director of RisikoKlár, is no stranger to debates or uncomfortable discussions. From a young age, she enjoyed lively conversations with her father about his work and later became active in academic association discussions. She said, “The element of informal mentoring was invaluable — a source of motivation, challenge and aspiration. [The discussions] were also a source of comfortable discomfort as being an active member always reminded me of how much more I needed to learn.” As the only female CFE in Iceland, she now brings her passion for discourse and spreading risk management knowledge to the ACFE’s members-only online community and her clients.

How did you first become passionate about fighting fraud? 
When I turned 10, my grandmother gave me the biographies of Martin Luther King Jr. and Käthe Kollwitz — they laid the groundwork for my moral compass. I also witnessed my father working late at night and on weekends on machinery assessments and analyses. Deeply immersed, he was drafting, improving and inventing mechanisms, processes and devices that would reduce serious risks and protect the safety of fellow workers. He had suffered a work accident himself, but his loyalty to his employer never wavered and I understood that the awards and rewards he was given, in appreciation of the risks mitigated for the firm thanks to his inventions and improvements, played a key role in this lifelong commitment. We later enjoyed many arguments over environmental issues in his industry, and I consider myself fortunate for growing up with my father’s willingness to engage in ongoing intellectual battle over ethical matters with me. His respect for my perspective, coupled with my insight that risk can be mitigated — and that preventive measures in combination with a passion for risk detection and the right incentives can make a major difference — were character-building. Little did I know then that conduct and fraud risk would become central to my work one day, but the passion was instilled early and strongly.

My background in the social sciences, which entailed studies in social psychology and criminology, ignited my interest in fighting fraud and white-collar crime (German: Wirtschaftskriminalität). My work in mitigating and managing banking risk tied all these elements together in a holistic and passionate way.

What is one of the biggest lessons you have learned since becoming a CFE? 
Fraud prevention and detection, whether in Britain, Germany or Iceland, is far less known and understood than I used to assume. I realized that many, even professionals in the risk, legal and scientific professions, hold misconceptions and may have severe knowledge gaps when it comes to white-collar crime, fraud risk and fraudulent activities. As a volunteer in my spare time, I also witnessed charity fraud. Thanks to my CFE credential, I have become more aware of the pervasiveness of fraud and white-collar crime across all industries, and the need to fight it meaningfully.

The biggest lesson is that we need many more well-educated fraud fighters, not only in the English-speaking nations. I also learned that the ACFE is the best place to undergo this training in order to remain at the forefront when it comes to subsequent continued professional education.

What is a memorable case or project that you have worked on; one that made you feel especially proud?  
After moving to London in 2005, I worked at the headquarters of the Commonwealth Secretariat, an intergovernmental organization. It provides technical assistance in the promotion of the rule of law and good governance with a focus on sharing best practices and capacity building. I oversaw the organization of international anti-corruption and counter-terrorism conferences and training sessions in London, Jamaica and Malaysia. This entailed close collaboration with a highly diverse range of subject matter experts, including those at Scotland Yard, as well as government officials, criminal law experts and policy researchers in various nations. We worked towards very tight deadlines across three time zones, two of which were at the opposing ends of the globe. It was equally challenging, thrilling and rewarding. Germany is not a member of the Commonwealth, which meant I could only hold a temporary position (and was the only German), but having the opportunity to work with those high-caliber passionate fraud fighters and senior lawyers was deeply inspiring and presented a lasting influence.

What activities or hobbies do you like to do outside of work?  
I love swimming in outdoor pools here in Iceland, and of course, hiking in snow-covered landscapes, especially when contrasted by black sands and blue waters. I have also tried stand-up paddle boarding with the Arctic surfers here, but I do prefer Mediterranean waters for my favorite water sport.

Discovering a new talent, whether music, arts, theatre or some other endeavor, is something I enjoy. The same holds true for exploring local cuisines, cultures and landscapes. Learning, reading widely and sharing knowledge is something that invigorates me, and I especially enjoy sharing this with my large extended family who have been a source of support in my fraud-fighting efforts.

Read Britta's full interview in the Career Center on ACFE.com.

CFE Determined to Bring Government Closer to Citizens

MEMBER PROFILE

Nicole Galloway, CFE
Missouri State Auditor 

Few things are as important as ‘the follow through.’ In many respects, following through is as important as beginning the task itself. This practice is what essentially led Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway, CFE, to obtain her credential. “I didn’t want to just start the case,” says Galloway. “I wanted to put the pieces together and see it through to the end.” Galloway believes that the state auditing process provides an opportunity for review, investigation and recommendations in pursuance of making government better for its people. “I believe strongly that the work we do is critical,” says Galloway. “I want others to understand how we can bring government closer to citizens.”

How did you become passionate about fighting fraud? 

When I worked as an actuary at Allstate Insurance I would review internal case studies that provided real-world examples of recently discovered fraud attempts. In one case, an individual filed a claim for his home, which he claimed was destroyed in a tornado. But when the adjustor went to investigate, she found the home was just fine. I would check these listings every day – I found it so incredible that there were people out there that would try to perpetrate these frauds and actually thought they could get away with it. Shortly after, I started taking accounting classes and I realized that it was more than just people who tried to get away with something. Of course, there were bad actors, but there were also circumstances — the opportunities for fraud — that allowed these activities to occur. I found this interesting, and it sparked my interest in fraud and fraud investigations.

Why did you decide to become a CFE?

As an internal auditor at an insurance company, I saw the impact that the company's CFEs had. They seemed to be doing the most interesting things! I remember when I first started using Audit Command Language (ACL) I found a number of insurance policies in our records that had the same P.O. Box listed as the address. It was an interesting discovery, but then I had to hand the information off to a CFE in the company to lead the investigation. I didn't want to just start the case, I wanted to be able to put the pieces together and see it through to the end.

What is your current role and what does it entail?

As the 38th Auditor of the State of Missouri, I am responsible for the operations of an office that provides oversight and independent review to hold government accountable. My office works to ensure the proper use of public funds and to improve the effectiveness and accountability of Missouri government. Audits examine financial practices to identify potential waste, opportunities for fraud, cybersecurity weaknesses and whether government organizations and programs are operating efficiently and transparently.

What is a memorable case or project that you have worked on; one that made you feel especially proud?

My team completed an audit in December of Hope Academy, a charter school in Kansas City that's no longer operating. It actually closed during the course of our audit work, which demonstrates the extent of the issues we found there. What we saw at Hope Academy — manipulated attendance records to get more state funding, students getting credit for non-academic work like dog walking and babysitting — was frustrating. The school was designed to serve as a second chance for students who were working to make positive changes in their lives, instead taxpayers were defrauded out of millions of dollars and, most importantly, the school failed these kids. Since our audit, a lawsuit has been filed against Hope Academy seeking the $3.7 million owed to the state. We can't get back the opportunities that these students lost, but it's good to see that steps are being taken to hold officials accountable, and I'm proud of the work we did there.

What do you hope to personally pass on to the next generation of fraud fighters?

I hope to pass on a real interest in public sector auditing. I believe strongly that the work we do is critical, and I want others to understand how we can bring government closer to citizens. I know that there can be a general distrust of government, but the auditing process provides for review, investigation and recommendations designed to make the system better. By shedding light on how government operates at every level, we can get away from distrust and move to a place of healthy skepticism. Questioning how government works is a good thing; it's healthy. But we need citizens to be engaged in the process and make suggestions to ensure government operates more efficiently.

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

My husband and I have two sons: 4-year-old William, and 2-year-old Benjamin. They make sure many of my hobbies are now family events. We spend time cooking together most evenings. I'm pretty sure that if they start early enough, one of them is bound to surpass my skills and become the family chef. At least I can dream, can't I?

This week we will be highlighting female fraud fighters from all over the world in celebration of International Women's Day, March 8. Read Galloway's full member profile in the Career Center on ACFE.com.

CFE Commands Respect While Generating Fraud Awareness

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MEMBER PROFILE

Davis Kallukaran, CFE, Founder and Managing Partner
Horwath Mak Ghazali
Sultanate of Oman

Having founded Horwath Mak Ghazali, one of the top five auditing and business advisory firms in the Sultanate of Oman, Davis Kallukaran, CFE, has worked hard to command respect and receive recognition for his hard work. He says “everything depends upon how you package yourself, like any other product – it is personal branding that is crucial for the profession.” Kallukaran shares how being involved in professional organizations locally and internationally helps to develop his personal brand and adds credibility to his organization’s name.

Where were you born and raised?  
I was born in India, in the state of Kerala. I had my early education in my home town of Trissur.

How did you become involved with the ACFE?  
In 1995, I founded the firm Ghazali Mak and Associates in the Sultanate of Oman in association with Mak and Associates from Dubai and Muna Al Ghazali, an Omani National. The firm evolved over the years, and since 2008 it has been a member-firm of Crowe Horwath, a top 10 global accounting network. Horwath Mak Ghazali was continuously engaged by the courts as expert auditors in various cases. These developments aroused my enthusiasm to look into the activities of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. I was awarded the Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) credential in 2006. Due to the inadequate numbers of qualified CFEs in Oman our attempt to establish a chapter did not materialize until this year. The chapter was established on June 7, 2015, and I am proud to be one of the board members.

What are the best opportunities for someone entering into your career? 
I should say that the sky is the limit for people entering into the accounting and auditing professions. Apart from the regular audit, tax and risk advisory services, forensic accounting, corporate finance, management consultancy practices and corporate governance are opening up a plethora of opportunities for professionals. Courts are very much dependent upon forensic professionals to provide expert opinions and accountants are required in every field of business.

What do you wish you had known (but didn’t) when you first contemplated founding the firm?  In my earlier days of practice I never understood the value of international associations. Prior to setting up the firm in Oman, I never ever imagined that a brand value can be strategically developed. A brand is not going to give you any mileage unless you create brand awareness in your local market. The same goes with your qualifications. A highly qualified person will not be effective unless he engages his qualifications effectively and thereby creates value. The local chapters have a great responsibility to create awareness about the contributions that CFEs can bring to any organization.

When you are not working, what types of things do you enjoy doing?  
When I am not working I like to spend time with my wife, Elizabeth, and our children. God willing, we will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary next year. The three boys are all grown up now. I also like reading inspirational books and listening to Hindi Music.

Read Davis' full profile in the Career Center on ACFE.com.