CFE Finds Satisfaction in Bringing Order Out of Chaos


Jaydra Perfetti, CFE
Paper Investigator Inc. 
Portland, Oregon

Jaydra Perfetti, CFE, founder of Paper Investigator Inc., discovered her passion for financial investigations and fraud detection as a tax compliance officer for the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS). In this role, Perfetti led an investigative team to establish a case against an office of tax preparers who were preying on vulnerable communities in a scheme to defraud the federal government of more than $500,000. The civil penalty case she built against the lead tax preparer went through the appeals process where her findings were fully sustained. While working through this case and many others, she came to understand that, for her, investigation is as much art as it is science and as much intuition as it is technique.

What is one of the biggest lessons you have learned since becoming a CFE? 
Fraud is often preventable — as long as you’re paying attention. I used to feel resigned to the existence of fraud. I thought because criminals spend all day creating new ways to separate people from their money, there was no way for law enforcement to ever get ahead of it. I certainly felt, as a member of law enforcement, like I was always playing catch-up.

Then I joined the ACFE and discovered there are people in the world filling a critical third role. Not only are there criminals and crime fighters, there are also people actively fighting fraud before it happens. Thousands of people work day after day on prevention, setting up anti-fraud controls, educating people and organizations and creating fraud response plans. I knew prevention was important, but I hadn’t realized how massive the prevention effort really is or how many people dedicate their professional lives to it. This revelation gave me hope and continues to inspire my work every day.

What steps led you to starting your own private practice?
It started with the IRS, where I spent more than 13 years. The last 10 years there I spent doing tax audits, which included a lot of forensic accounting and fraud investigations. I have also spent the last 11 years volunteering for several nonprofits as a board treasurer.

A few years ago most of the government was put under a hiring freeze due to budget constraints, so opportunities to grow within my agency became nonexistent. I channeled my desire for new challenges and professional improvement through my volunteer work. I got to do wonderful things for some great organizations. Unfortunately, the federal budget continued to suffer, and fulfilling our mission became more and more challenging. I eventually concluded that in order to have the impact I really want on the world, I would have to go out on my own and create it.

Last year I studied for the CFE Exam and earned my credential in November. I got my private investigator license at the beginning of this year. After setting up my business, I left my job with the IRS to work for myself.

What is a memorable case or project that you have worked on, one that made you feel especially proud?
One of the projects I feel most proud about was an investigation I led into an office of tax preparers. The investigation started, like so many do, with a tip. My team and I followed the tip and audited a batch of tax returns all prepared by this office. We discovered a pattern — the same large credit was claimed by taxpayers who were clearly not eligible for it, and English was a second language for all the taxpayers.

Through our investigation, the scheme we uncovered was heart-wrenching. These tax preparers set up their business to target a particular ethnic minority group. They convinced their clients to file tax returns through them by promising it would look better on immigration forms. But the tax returns they filed included thousands of dollars of false credits, so these taxpayers received large refunds they were not entitled to. Since English was not their first language, these taxpayers could not see for themselves that what the preparers told them was on their tax return was not actually there.

The audits resulted in each family owing those false refunds back; an average balance due of $5,000 per year for three years. It was a devastating debt for families working hard and living from paycheck to paycheck. It was also a shocking betrayal by those they trusted. The tax preparers were members of the community as well as experts hired with the expectation to file a correct tax return.

The preparers collected their fees at the time the returns were prepared, so they were not affected by the balance their clients now owed for the refunds they should not have received. I successfully asserted a penalty for willful/reckless disregard of the tax law against the main preparer, and my findings were sustained on appeal. The penalty totaled $5,000 per year for every client. A clear and just consequence for someone holding themselves out as a trusted expert to a vulnerable demographic.

What activities or hobbies do you like to do outside of work?
I enjoy partner social dancing. My favorites are contra, swing, blues, waltz and tango. Dancing is how my partner, Noah, and I met, and it’s still one of our favorite activities we enjoy together.

I have also been training in a martial arts style called Mo Duk Pai for the last dozen years, which means “martial ethics method.” It’s a blended style with roots from a broad range of hard and soft styles focused on practical self-defense and developing the total martial artist (mind, body and spirit). I teach two days a week and enjoy sharing my passion with both youth and adult students.

Another of my passions is community building. I currently sit on the board of two nonprofits. I find it immensely satisfying to give back to my community and make positive changes for our members and those we serve.

Read Jaydra's full interview in the ACFE Career Center on

What Does it Mean to be a Regent?


Tiffany Couch, CFE, CPA/CFF
Principal at Acuity Forensics

What does it mean to be a Regent? This simple question was recently posed to me, but I found that answering it was anything but simple. However, there is a recurring word that best describes my experience as a Regent: Deep, as in profound and meaningful.

  • Deeper Connections. Connecting with long-time colleagues and meeting new ones is the best part of my job, especially during the annual ACFE Global Fraud Conference. Being recognized as a Regent (how can you miss us with the big shiny medallion hanging around our necks?!) allows for new connections to be made easily.
  • Deeper Understanding. Did you know that fellow ACFE members span the globe, including countries most of us have never heard of (e.g. Benin, in West Africa)? And our numbers continue to grow year after year? Did you know that the ACFE and the Board of Regents takes our credential and its outlook in the professional community seriously, including the unfortunate position of investigating breaches of the ACFE Code of Professional Conduct? Understanding the depth and breadth of this organization makes me even more proud to be a Certified Fraud Examiner.
  • Deeply Honored. To be recognized by my professional peers as a leader in the field and asked to represent the membership at this level is truly an honor. I’m grateful for the recognition and the experience. 

The best part of the ACFE Board of Regents (and our collective membership) is the fact that we are an interesting bunch — from teachers to lawyers, accountants to law enforcement officers, our backgrounds are varied and interesting. Yet we all have the same deep commitment to detect and prevent fraud. What we can learn from each other and the heights to which our professional credential can rise are truly limitless.

As a Regent, I highly encourage you to take a few minutes’ time to research the individuals on this year’s slate of nominees and make an educated choice for the individual in which you want to be represented. Casting your vote is an important way for you to exercise your right as an ACFE member and to have a voice in the direction of the organization.

Go ahead, dig deep. Find the time on that busy calendar of yours and cast your vote today!

For CFE, Crime-fighting Runs in the Family


Ashley Koroluk, CFE
Investigative Financial Crime Analyst, Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Regina, Saskatchewan

Ashley Koroluk hails from a law enforcement family – yet, in her civilian member role, she brings an intense focus to detecting fraud and fighting white-collar crime. In this interview with the ACFE, Koroluk shares the challenges and responsibilities that come with her position, along with some words of wisdom for her colleagues in the anti-fraud profession.

What led you to this line of work?
Law enforcement is definitely in my blood. My father was a member of the RCMP for more than 33 years and continues to work with law enforcement as the Director of the Saskatchewan Witness Protection Program. My brother and fiancé are current RCMP members. I, however, was not interested in becoming a police officer. When the RCMP created this civilian member role, I knew it would be a perfect fit for my inquisitive nature while utilizing my business, financial and economic background. This position allows me to be part investigator, part intelligence analyst and part accountant. I also knew this would be a rewarding role where I could make a difference by helping others, specifically with preventing financial victimization and hopefully recovering proceeds of crime for victims. This role is the only one of its kind in Saskatchewan, which keeps me extremely busy, but allows me to work on new and interesting investigations, constantly keeping me challenged.
Which types of frauds are the most interesting to you?
I find fraudsters involved in corruption and large-scale investment fraud to be the most interesting because they are usually highly educated, well-respected and are purely motivated by greed and arrogance. For me, successful enforcement actions on these types are the most rewarding.

Believe it or not, I am passionate about every investigation because I have never worked on any that were the same. I learn something new each day and with every investigation. One investigation where I was particularly invested in was one that started out as a basic NSF (non-sufficient funds) check complaint. Through a tactical analysis I gathered enough information to formulate an indication that a fraud in progress was occurring. I gave presentations to upper management decision makers so they could get a taste and grasp of what my analysis showed and the magnitude of the fraud. This led to additional resources assisting me with further investigation, which in turn led to its development of one of the province’s highest priority projects and the first completely integrated organized crime investigation containing elements of fraud, drugs and proceeds of crime.
What do you think are some of the most important things for fraud examiners to keep in mind when working to prevent and detect fraud? Is there an element that requires the most focus for you?
Fraud examiners should be mindful that they are gathering evidence and reporting the facts, not expressing opinions. Two qualities that have really paid off for me in all of the investigations I have worked on, that are often overlooked or forgotten, are being creative and persistent. Financial crime investigations can be complex, take a lot of time, resources and money and at least in the law enforcement world, sometimes have to be sold to upper management and the prosecutors because they aren’t the “sexy” guns and drugs type of files.

What advice do you have for other fraud examiners who would follow in your footsteps?
Whether you are working for law enforcement in the criminal realm, or in any private or civil area, the following will assist you:

  • Seek out a mentor – you will benefit immensely from their experiences and wisdom.
  • Listen to and rely on your investigative intuition and trust your instincts.  
  • The more investigative experience you gain, the more better equipped you’ll be to deal with fraud.
  • Analytical skills are extremely important. Let all the data and the facts guide your analysis and conclusions to not only understand and formulate the big picture of what is going (or went on) but also the why and how things occurred as they did.
  • Definitely get your ACFE certification and become involved with the local ACFE chapters and attend the ACFE conferences. This is a great way to meet others and build relationships with like-minded fraud fighters.

 Get more insight from Ashley by reading her full profile on

Grace Under Pressure: Bouncing Back from a Career Setback


Kathy Lavinder, CFE
Owner and Executive Director of Security & Investigative Placement Consultants

An investigator with a boutique professional services firm contacted me recently. Her employer was having financial difficulties. That was something she knew, but what she didn’t expect was that her job would be eliminated. Her work evaluations had been top-notch, but she was the most recent hire. She never saw it coming, so it was a tough blow.

After a day or two to absorb the shock, this investigator did what I recommend anyone in that situation do. She updated her résumé to reflect recent work experience and training. She emailed several people, including her former supervisor at the boutique, to ask if they would serve as references. Then she turned her attention to LinkedIn. She began expanding her network by sending out invitations to connect, with special attention given to recruiters and talent acquisition specialists at employers in her home town. She quickly joined several new LinkedIn groups that focused on her areas of expertise and interest. Then she updated her profile page to make it crystal clear the kind of work she has done and the kind of role she could handle.  

Professional lives, like personal lives, can veer off course sometimes. As this young professional demonstrated, it’s vitally important to begin with an unemotional and clear-eyed assessment of the situation. Discuss the particulars of your situation with several people you trust, who know you well and who you know will be discreet. Find the right perspective – determine if this is a minor setback or something truly serious. If you conclude it’s a minor event, then look for ways to learn from it and move on.  

If the development falls squarely into the serious category, such as a job loss, you’ll need to develop a thoughtful and appropriate response. An adverse event outside of your control, such as a bankruptcy filing by your employer, is an example of something you can’t impact. But you can respond and you can even be prepared for this kind of event. Keep your résumé up-to-date, periodically check job boards and passively use to push relevant job announcements your way. In a career crisis, however, don’t do anything hasty because storms – even big ones – blow over, and your career may be none the worse for it.  

If you’re in the middle, or even the periphery, of an adverse event, it becomes something you cannot ignore. As a fraud prevention, investigation, or mitigation specialist it can be problematic if the issue involves some failure on your part – perhaps it was an oversight or a misjudgment. Whatever the matter, your actions and judgments will surely come under the microscope.

Keep doing your job to the best of your ability, while taking ownership of your mistake or shortcoming. Be a professional who exhibits grace under pressure. This response may provide you with an opportunity to redeem yourself even if you had direct involvement in the adverse event. After all, to err is human, to forgive divine. If you can demonstrate how you’ve learned from your mistake or misstep, you may be able to redeem yourself. By communicating that you’ve gained new self-awareness and have serious intentions to correct deficiencies or make amends, you may qualify for a second chance.  

On the other hand, a catastrophically bad judgment call and/or an integrity lapse are two things in the fraud prevention arena that are usually career killers. Keep that stark reality in mind as you go about your work.  

If your career emergency truly is critical and calls for action, contact your fraud sector peers, as well as former colleagues and recruiters, to alert them to your newly launched job search. Communicate that you’re ready for your next career challenge. Do not go into great detail about your situation at this point. Always keep in mind how important discretion is in the anti-fraud arena. You’ll have to be proactive to find your next job since it’s a competitive market, but there are always opportunities available.

Find more career advice from experts like Kathy in the ACFE's online Career Center.