General Mills is a household name for most consumers around the world. The multibillion dollar company may be known primarily for their cereals, but they also produce and manage more than 100 brands in more than 100 countries, spanning from natural dog food to organic soups and snacks. While they’re mainly known for their food, they are also leading the way for spreading fraud awareness and anti-fraud education. Jay Samson, CFE, General Mills senior manager for investigations and forensics in global security, has spearheaded extensive International Fraud Awareness Week (Fraud Week) efforts for a number of years, and he says they are only planning on continuing to grow their efforts.Read More
Mandy Moody, CFE
ACFE Social Media Specialist
Every country has its Enron. Or, I guess I should say its Olympus, its HSBC, its Caterpillar. The list could go on and on. Financial schemes morph, and the numbers get manipulated this way and that, but a few things remain the same. A fraud is perpetrated. The whole truth isn’t told. And, in the end, money, along with integrity, is lost.
Luckily, just as fraud knows no boundaries or borders, neither do fraud prevention and detection. For every Bernie Madoff, there are a hundred anti-fraud professionals dedicated to stopping fraud before it happens, investigating it to recover losses or helping to serve justice and restore balance. With the task of righting the financial and white-collar wrongs of the world, fraud fighters need a variety of skills. From interviewing to risk management, the tools of a fraud examiner are varied and unique.
With the goal of serving those who fight fraud worldwide, we are excited to announce a few new 2013 locations for some of our most popular courses. Below is a list of where you can find ACFE seminars around the world in the coming months:
Ross Pry, CFE
ACFE Membership Director
In the almost seven years that I have been with the ACFE I have enjoyed a lot of “firsts.” I have gotten married, bought a house and earlier this month celebrated my daughter’s first birthday. Through her first year of life, I’ve been fortunate enough to see what pure joy looks like, and it was on full display as she devoured her birthday cake. With icing covering her hands, face and even the wispy hairs on the back of her head I was reminded of how much fun it is to experience something new.
I recently became the Director of Membership and am excited to be back in the department where I “first” got my start. We strive to provide members with great benefits and, as a staff, we are always looking to improve the member experience. With our members in mind, we have recently created the following new benefits:
- Free webinars: This past year, we hosted seven free hour-long webinars for members to earn CPE credit. You can listen to the archives here. We have also recently launched free career-related webinars through the ACFE Career Center.
- Free white papers: Industry-leading companies provide us with white papers that cover a variety of topics, including industry-specific trends, case studies on famous frauds and new technology to help in the fight against fraud. Check the Fraud Magazine website regularly updated white papers.
- Podcasts: The ACFE just launched Fraud Talk, interviews with the industry’s leading experts addressing fraud issues, providing insight on case studies and new tools to aid in the detection and prevention of fraud. You can listen to the podcast online, or download it as an MP3 file. Bookmark this page and check back monthly for updated content.
- Resource library: For a centralized location of ACFE resources, click here for videos, publications, reports, sample documents and tools. The ACFE also publishes reports like the 2012 Report to the Nations and the Compensation Guide.
- Training materials: We recently created an employee training program for CFEs to teach about common types of fraud, the warning signs of fraud and what to do if employees suspect fraud. Fraud’s Hidden Cost to You and Your Organization is a downloadable training video, workbook and slide set to help educate employees about fraud.
We look forward to continuing to serve and support our members with their careers, and as the ACFE continues to grow so does our focus and commitment to members.
Catherine Lofland, CPA
ACFE Research Specialist
Imagine a small business owner who catches an employee stealing inventory from his store. The owner calls the police, who arrest the employee. What the small business owner doesn’t realize is that the same employee has also been writing checks to himself under a pseudonym for months, in what is known as a fictitious vendor scheme. A fraud investigator would likely uncover this scheme by examining the financial records; however, if the officers investigating the inventory theft don’t have the accounting knowledge necessary to decipher the financial records, the employee might get away with the embezzlement.
When I tell people I write educational materials in the research department at the ACFE, their response is often, “So, you write courses for forensic accountants?” There is a common misconception that “fraud investigation” and “forensic accounting” are synonymous. While these concepts are related, they are in fact distinct. A fraud investigation is conducted by either financial or non-financial professionals and refers only to fraud matters. Forensic accounting, on the other hand, refers to work done by accountants in anticipation of litigation and doesn’t necessarily involve fraud.
Although ACFE members include many CPAs and accountants, a large portion of our membership work in non-financial professions, including law enforcement, attorneys, private investigators, detectives, consultants and compliance professionals. Many of these people have limited or no formal accounting education.
It is important for any fraud examiner to understand the nature of financial transactions and how they affect a company’s books. When conducting a fraud investigation, one must be on the lookout for indications within financial reports and data that reflect financial statement manipulation, theft of assets or corruption. However, analyzing a set of books might be daunting to someone who has never taken an accounting class. For those of you with a limited exposure to basic accounting concepts, I encourage you to check out our new online self-study course, Financial Investigations for Non-Financial Professionals. This course walks you through the three essential financial statements, the basic accounting principles driving the numbers on these statements and simple financial analysis techniques that can quickly highlight suspicious activity.
Since fraudulent acts are often of a financial nature, it is important for a fraud examiner to have a fundamental knowledge of accounting principles and a familiarity with the structure of financial statements in order to conduct a thorough fraud investigation.
Rich Kelly, CFE
Senior Partner, Predegate LLC
Rich Kelly, CFE, was working as a liability specialist for a mid-size insurance company when he decided to take a different path in his professional life. He went back to college in 2000 to earn his master's degree, and this ultimately led him to a new career in fighting fraud.
Kelly earned his M.S. in Economic Crime Management at Utica College and then joined their faculty in 2006, where he currently serves in the following roles: Economic Crime and Justice Studies internship coordinator and assistant professor of Economic Crime Investigation.
Kelly knew that earning the Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) credential would be a worthwhile investment in his new career. "Working as an educator in a fraud-related field, it didn't take me long to realize that the CFE credential is the biggest and most sought after designation in the fraud fighting industry," Kelly said. "I felt that if I were to recommend the CFE credential to my students to make them more knowledgeable and marketable down the road that I should also lead by example."
While serving as one of the faculty advisors for the ACFE Student Chapter at Utica College and also a member of the Upstate New York Chapter in Syracuse, Kelly received a summer fellowship to attend the CFE Exam Review Course in 2008 and earned his CFE credential that December. "I finally pushed myself to attend the CFE Exam Review Course and complete the CFE Exam," Kelly said. "Personally and professionally it has been one of the best moves I've ever made."
Becoming a CFE also gave him the knowledge and confidence to provide professional fraud consulting through a firm called Predegate LLC, established by Kelly and two partners. Predegate LLC gives Kelly the opportunity to work with local businesses, nonprofit organizations, and individuals to provide fraud awareness training and develop customized solutions to mitigate fraud risks and threats.
"Our strengths definitely lie in our training abilities," Kelly said, noting that the threesome offer fraud prevention seminars on topics such as identity theft and red flags of fraud. "We're also in the process of developing customized data-driven tools which analyze complex transaction flows, detect unusual data patterns, and identify suspect transactions and accounts."
Looking back, Kelly knows he made the right choice in taking a different path 10 years ago. It's led to a rewarding anti-fraud career with many new challenges and opportunities ahead.
Read more career profiles at the ACFE's new Career Center.