Collaborating on a Casebook: The View from the Grammar Police


Laura Hymes, CFE
Managing Editor

When I began working at the ACFE 3½ years ago, I had almost no knowledge of common fraud schemes and the various methods that fraud examiners use to prevent and detect them. What I did have was a background in publishing and an interest in continuing to develop and edit books. Fast forward to today and not only have I had the opportunity to work on three of Dr. Joseph T. Wells’ casebooks (Internet Fraud Casebook, Financial Statement Fraud Casebook and the forthcoming Bribery and Corruption Casebook), but I’ve even earned my own Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) credential.

Reading firsthand accounts of investigating and uncovering fraud drove home the immediacy of white-collar crime in a way I had not experienced before. For me, it added that human element that can be lost so easily when I’m reading a textbook or manual. Suddenly I knew the people behind the investigations, had working relationships with them, and understood their senses of humor and writing styles. If I didn’t quite grasp one of the finer points in a case, I had direct access to the examiner writing it, and every author from whom I sought clarification was kind and generous in explaining the nuances that a novice might not appreciate.

My experiences working on the Bribery and Corruption Casebook: The View from Under the Table were no different. Dr. Wells and I usually begin the casebook process by brainstorming new ideas, and this time around we decided corruption was the way to go. After we chose the topic for this new collection, we sent a request to CFEs for case submissions. When we reviewed submissions we were looking for a good mix of private industry and public corruption cases. This step is always the most difficult; we receive so many excellent ideas — hundreds for this latest collection — but there simply isn’t room to include them all.

After the cases have been selected, the real fun begins. That’s when I get to start collaborating with practitioners in the field who investigate white-collar crime daily. We work in drafts, communicating and discussing ideas at each stage. I move commas around, add adjectives and flesh out descriptions, and ask annoying questions like, “Can you make the difference between that kickback and this illegal gratuity more apparent?” For their part, the writers take my grammar-police tendencies in good humor and respond to my questions thoughtfully and in ways that, I hope, add value to the cases for our readers.

John Wiley & Sons Publishing released the new Bribery and Corruption Casebook: The View from Under the Table in April. I hope you enjoy reading the stories and learn something from the experienced ACFE members who investigated and wrote the cases — I certainly did.

And Dr. Wells and I are already in the brainstorming phase for our next book, so stay tuned!