Announcing the First Fraud Week Twitter Chat

Please join us on Tuesday, November 14, at 11 a.m. CST to participate in our first ever Fraud Week Twitter chat. Our topic is “You discovered fraud — now what?” We’re inviting participants to share their best tips and methods for handling a fraud once it’s discovered.

Since this is our first Twitter chat, let’s go over some Twitter chat basics. Up first…

What is a Twitter Chat?

A Twitter chat is simply an informal but informational hour-long conversation hosted on Twitter. The host — that’s us — sets up a predetermined time and topic, and each participant uses a designated hashtag to join in the chat. To join our chat, here are the details you should know.

Time: Tuesday, November 14 at 11 a.m. CST
Topic: You discovered fraud — now what?
Hashtag: #fraudweekchat

How does it work?

We will open up the chat with an “Introduce Yourself” round where we’ll ask everyone to let us know who you are, where you’re joining from and your reason for participating in the chat.

After that, every few minutes we’ll send out numbered questions with Q1, Q2, Q3, etc. on them.

If you’d like to respond to a question, include A1, A2, A3, etc. and the #fraudweekchat hashtag so other participants can easily follow along with what question you are answering.

Who can join?

Anyone! The chat is open for anyone and everyone. Whether you are a consumer who’s been affected by fraud or a CFE with many years of fraud-fighting experience, we welcome you. All you have to do is use the #fraudweekchat hashtag, and that will let everyone know you’re in the chat. While we know this time may not work out for all who wish to participate, we’ve tried to select a time that would allow as many people to join as possible.

Why join the chat?

This is a chance to network with some of the world’s leading anti-fraud professionals while also learning valuable information about how to handle fraud once it’s been discovered. Just like meeting new and interesting colleagues at an in-person conference, Twitter chats help bring people together who have a shared interest. In this case, our shared interest is fighting fraud and spreading anti-fraud awareness.

I want to join. What do I do now?

First, make sure you are following us on Twitter. Then mark this date and time on your calendar so you don’t miss it. Last, share this post on social media or email it to a friend who you think might enjoy participating. The more people who join in, the richer and more beneficial our conversation will be.

We look forward to seeing you on Tuesday, November 14, at 11 a.m. in our first ever Fraud Week Twitter chat!

I Put a Spell on You, and Now Your Money is Mine



Emily Primeaux, CFE
Associate Editor, Fraud Magazine

In my favorite Halloween movie, Hocus Pocus, Winifred Sanderson, played by Bette Midler, sings to the adults of the town while at their Halloween dance. As the lines of, “I Put a Spell on You,” drift around the dance hall, the townspeople fall under Sanderson’s sinister spell to keep them dancing until they die. Winifred then leaves to “suck the lives” out of the children of Salem to keep her young and beautiful.

Sure, Winifred doesn’t quite resemble your typical fraudster. But bewitching others to escape prosecution isn’t too far outside the world of white-collar crime thanks to one Chevy Chase woman.

According to an Aug. 29 Bethesda Magazine article, Dawn J. Bennett, a 55-year-old former financial radio host, faces prosecution from both the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for allegedly defrauding people out of millions of dollars in what is described as a Ponzi scheme.

According to the article, Bennett is accused of taking more than $20 million from dozens of investors for her company DJBennett. But instead of putting the investments toward the business, Bennett reportedly used much of the money to pay back earlier investors and make purchases to support an extravagant lifestyle.

Things get a bit spookier, though, when a chronology of the case showed she attempted to cast spells on authorities who were pursuing her. On Aug. 2, when FBI agents searched her Chevy Chase condo and D.C. office, they allegedly found instructions for putting people under a “Beef Tongue Shut Up Hoodoo Spell” — a spell intended to keep people from talking to her. Winifred would be proud.

Fraudsters come in many forms, not just the bewitching kind. In another case, a straightforward Halloween hoax left one Seattle woman bewildered. According to an Oct. 19 Q13 News article, Elizabeth Bender was upset when she never received a refund for a canceled “Haunted Booze Cruise.” Her $65 ticket promised food, drinks and revelry, but when it became clear that she, and others who’d signed up for the event, weren’t getting their money back, calls to the “entertainment” company went unanswered.

Veronica Craker of Better Business Bureau Northwest says in the article that there are a lot of “event scams” popping up. She explains if the event doesn’t have a specific time and location or the event’s pages have stock-looking photos, these could be red flags. Craker suggests calling the event location before signing up for the event and using your credit card when signing up, because there are more consumer fraud protections with credit card companies.

Halloween is a spooky, but fun, time of year. Don’t let tricksters ruin your fun. And if Winifred Sanderson just happens to show up in your town, do as Max, Dani and Allison suggest and “cover your ears!”

3 Frauds You Couldn't Make Up If You Tried

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Mandy Moody, CFE
ACFE Content Manager

One technique I have heard anti-fraud team leaders discuss is brainstorming fraud scenarios with their teams. In-house investigation teams will  sit down in a room and think of ways to defraud their company and carry out the frauds from the beginning to the end. This gives teams a way to step outside what they see every day and identify any potential loopholes or gaps in controls. While this exercise may prove valuable, it still doesn't capture the truly outlandish frauds out there. As many of us who read fraud headlines lately know, sometimes there are fraud stories you just can't make up.

Here are some recent news stories sure to leave you speechless:

  • A slippery slope: This lawsuit is bananas. Kmart Corp has been sued by a New Jersey company that accused the retailer of ripping off its full-body banana costume design for its “Totally Ghoul” banana men’s Halloween costumes. Read the full story.
  • YOLO: A woman who claimed to insurers that she could barely walk but was seen bungee jumping on Channel 4's Coach Trip has admitted fraud. Read the full story.
  • A carnivorous crime: A South Texas juvenile justice department employee is accused of stealing $1.2 million worth of fajitas over nine years through county-funded purchases. Read the full story.

Do you know of any ridiculous fraud stories? Share them on Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #cantmakethisfraudup.

Why One CFE Moved From a Big 4 Firm to a Niche Compliance Team


Michael D’Alessandro, CFE, CPA  
Corporate Risk and Compliance Manager  
Sony Corporation of America  

After spending a few years as an external auditor at a Big 4 accounting firm fresh out of college, Michael D’Alessandro, CFE, CPA, knew he needed a change of pace. He thought about the two aspects of anti-fraud work that he enjoyed the most — investigations and auditing — and soon realized he wanted to find a role that allowed him to focus more on prevention of fraud rather than detection of an incident after the fact. This led him to a new position on a compliance monitoring team with Sony Corporation of America, and as he recently reflected on his journey, he realized that he wouldn’t have made it to where he is today if he hadn’t gotten his CFE while working that first job at the Big 4 firm. “The CFE credential has been the No. 1 thing that’s given me a leg up in each step I’ve taken.” Nowadays, he continues to take advantage of ACFE resources to shape and continuously improve his team.

What does your current role in compliance entail?  
I am part of a compliance monitoring group, which is a group of CFEs and CPAs within our company’s legal and compliance group. Our team has the responsibility of ensuring that the compliance program is properly implemented throughout all operating companies across the globe. We are involved with some internal investigations and also work closely with compliance personnel on global initiatives such as hotline implementation, program improvements, policy updates and more.

What steps led you to your current position?  
Really, it was a few factors. 1) I really enjoyed working on investigations, 2) I wanted a break from the stress of a Big 4 and 3) I felt that my background in audit and investigations would be well suited to compliance. In a way compliance is a little of both with an emphasis on the preventative side opposed to working investigations from the consulting side after the bad activity has always already taken place (for the most part).

What is a memorable case or project that you have worked on, one that made you feel especially proud?  
I’d say the one that I was most proud of was a simple travel and expense case. The company asked us for help on an investigation into an executive assistant (EA) who was using the bosses’ (there were multiple that this EA worked for) credit cards in a fraudulent manner — purchasing personal items, taking trips with friends, that type of thing. All in all it was a straightforward case, but what I was so proud of was when we finished going through all the supporting documentation, it was handed over to the general council, who in turn gave it to the police. When we got an update on what happened, we were told the police thanked them for wrapping it up in a nice little bow because it made the prosecution extremely easy. I guess it’s the simple things in life sometimes!

What advice do you have for anyone facing a similar case?  
Simply put, make sure you get back to original documentation and, when possible, get originals from a third-party source. In this case, the EA was altering itineraries from the company’s travel agent because it came in an email that was easy to alter, so without much scrutiny the expenses looked legit. However, when we got the originals from the travel agent, it became very apparent what was going on.

How has earning the CFE credential benefited your career?  
In a word, immensely. The CFE credential has been the No. 1 thing that’s given me a leg up in each step I’ve taken. I proactively went out and got it while in auditing at the Big 4, which made it easier to get into the fraud investigation group. Then going to internal audit at my company, they were thrilled I had the anti-fraud experience they were looking for and the certification to back it up. In my current role, the CFE credential is something that really sets our group apart. All in all, it’s been an amazing asset for my career.

Read Michael's full interview in Career Center on

You Found Fraud, Now What? 5 Steps to Immediately Take After Suspecting Fraud in Your Company



Kelly Todd, CFE
Managing member & member in charge of forensic investigations
Forensic Strategic Solutions, LLC

Despite efforts to prevent fraud, the unfortunate reality is that it still happens — in fact, according to the ACFE's 2016 Report to the Nations, it is estimated that companies lose 5% of revenue each year to fraud. If you suspect fraud has occurred at your organization, take these immediate action steps:

  1. Safeguard potential evidence. Preservation of evidence is key. Secure any and all potential evidence — but by all means, avoid the temptation to examine the evidence on your own. Electronic evidence is fragile and easily altered. Did you know that simply turning a computer off or on can alter potential evidence? Secure computers, cellphones and external electronic media sources such as thumb drives. Maintaining the evidence will help your forensic accounting team identify what occurred, who committed the fraud and why.
  2. Gather a team. Enlist a forensic accountant and computer forensic specialist to help you collect, analyze and store the data. It would be wise to hire an outside financial investigator who is familiar with and experienced in fraud investigations — using an in-house accountant is not appropriate, as they are not as objective as an outside source. In fact, someone on the accounting team may be part of the problem. Retain an employment lawyer to ensure you stay on the right side of the law regarding the rights of the suspected employee. 
  3. Deal with the suspected employee. Don’t fire the suspected employee immediately — it could make gathering evidence much more difficult. Instead, restrict their access to company data. Do not let them remove their computer or any other company items and documents from their office.
  4. Notify your insurance provider. A crucial fact for employers to know is that you must notify your insurance provider within 30 to 60 days, depending on your policy. Failure to do so could cause a loss of coverage.
  5. File proof of loss. You will need to document any losses with your insurance provider in a specified time frame. Documenting a claim with an insurance provider takes time to ensure it is properly recorded. It is possible to file an extension should you need one, but be sure not to miss any deadlines or you risk forfeiting coverage.

The best way to mitigate fraud risks is to have internal controls and external resources available to prevent them from happening in the first place. Should fraud occur, the initial steps you take in addressing suspected fraud can hinder or greatly help your efforts — don’t make the mistake of collecting evidence and acting without the assistance of a team of forensic specialists and legal professionals.