The days of the traditional college classroom, where the professor lectures on a topic and later gives exams on that material, are gone forever. The preferred style today, both by the professor as well as the student, is case-based learning. Students are expected to do the relative background reading beforehand and come to class ready to take on a case study, laser focused on the topic. Faculty spend their time doing the research and writing the case study for use in the classroom. This is a lot more interesting for all involved, students and faculty alike. It drives home the salient points of the subject matter and gives the students more real-world experience.Read More
Jeremy Clopton, CFE, CPA, ACDA
Managing Consultant, Forensics and Valuation Services, BKD, LLP
As Bob Tie reminded us in his January Fraud Magazine "Special to the Web" column, “Devil in the details,” data analytics is an effective way to identify potential fraudulent transactions. More broadly stated, it is an effective way to identify potential fraud. Regardless of what business process we examine, if good data is available, there is no reason why it shouldn’t be analyzed. Using analytics for fraud detection commonly focuses on accounts payable, payroll, the general ledger and bank transactions. However, there are many other applications of analytics for fraud detection. One of the more interesting applications mentioned in the news lately is the detection of academic fraud.
As a college sports fan, the recent allegations of academic fraud related to student athletes at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill caught my attention. One of the latest articles, “Updated data on North Carolina scandal details bogus classes, suspect grade changes” in The News Tribune, discusses a release of new data about the scandal. The article included student counts, percentages of enrollment, quantities of grade changes and many other revealing statistics. While the article does not explicitly state the consulting firm used data analytics, there was clearly an analysis of a large set of data from multiple perspectives to identify unknown patterns.
As it should, this story is likely to catch the attention of most colleges and universities in the nation, with or without athletics programs. The key takeaway from this scandal: institutions of higher education need to incorporate analytics into their academic compliance monitoring. A sample of classes and a high-level review is not likely to provide the depth of analysis needed to identify an academic fraud of this nature. A 100 percent analysis of all available academic data is a much more effective approach. Analyzing class compositions, student athlete performance trends and grade revision frequencies are just a few of the analytics to consider incorporating into your current processes.
The data capture and retention practices of institutions of higher education provide a solid foundation of data for analysis. The rules and regulations institutions must follow to remain compliant provide an outline of expectations and the means to categorize certain activities as unusual. It is time for these institutions to embrace data analytics, harnessing the power of this data and the structure of the regulations, to take a proactive approach to detecting and preventing academic fraud.
Lupe DeLeon, ACFE Higher Education Coordinator
Of the many programs and committees the ACFE is proud to be a part of, one still stands out from the rest at this time of year. As we reflect on a year of achievement and growth for our organization and our members, we remain focused on the future CFEs who will one day lead the fight against fraud.
The Ritchie-Jennings Memorial Scholarship was established in 1992 by the ACFE Foundation and is named after Larry Jennings, CFE, and Tracy Ritchie, CFE. Jennings and Ritchie were fatally wounded when terrorists fired upon their vehicle in Karachi, Pakistan on Nov. 14, 1997. The scholarship was then named in their honor and supports the education of collegiate accounting, business, finance and criminal justice students worldwide.
Anthony Sperduti is a past scholarship winner and a student at Post University in Connecticut. He attributes much more to the award than just a monetary incentive. According to Sperduti, he found confidence, a whole new world of networking and the motivation to pursue a career in fraud prevention and forensic accounting.
“The award provided much more to me than financial gain,” Sperduti said. “The feeling of achieving something of this nature will give anyone the confidence boost they are looking for. Not only that, it is a great resume builder, and gives the applicant the opportunity to network with CFEs. The application requires a letter of recommendation from a CFE, so it really makes the applicant build the confidence and go out there and network. It helps the applicant become known in the field of fraud prevention.”
This year the ACFE Foundation Board of Directors voted to increase the amount of scholarship awards available. There will be one $10,000 scholarship, two $5,000 scholarships, four $2,500 scholarships and 23 $1,000 scholarships. Other changes include a scholarship questionnaire in place of the essay, as well as the acceptance of “unofficial” transcripts.
The 2011-2012 scholarship schedule is as follows:
- Application Deadline – Postmarked by January 21, 2011
- 2011-2012 Scholarship Recipients Announced – April 15, 2011
- Scholarships Distributed – April 30, 2011
To find out more information about the ACFE Foundation or the Ritchie-Jennings Memorial Scholarship, go here.