30 Apr

Why Hire a Forensic Accountant in a Family Law Case?

Some family law attorneys are reluctant to retain forensic accountants in their cases. Money may be a factor, but sometimes the need for an outside expert is not clear. While law firms may have paralegals or attorneys on staff who are very knowledgeable about financial issues, the outside forensic accountant offers several advantages:

  1. Experience in financial investigations means the work can be completed quicker and more efficiently. The results are often presented better since experts present their results in court and are used to making things understandable for non-accountants.
  2. An outside expert can testify, while law firm personnel cannot. Even though the family lawyer might not intend for the case to go to trial, it is always a possibility, and therefore it pays to have a financial professional who could testify if necessary.
  3. An outside expert is generally perceived as more objective. Ethical forensic accountants attempt to be independent and objective in their opinions, which bolsters the credibility of the calculations.
  4. Forensic accountants have experience finding red flags and issues. Their analysis is often more thorough, and their ability to spot problems is often more developed. This can be invaluable for finding issues that were previously unknown.

Sometimes it seems like the numbers aren’t complicated and an expert witness isn’t required. But one of the most important things your forensic accountant may do is properly present the numbers. Non-experts don’t often know how to present the numbers in the best way. Someone who does fraud investigations and expert witness engagements all the time will likely have a better way of presenting the data.

27 Apr

Blogging to Get Business

Attorneys and accountants are told that they need to blog if they want to get clients. Blogs are a magic marketing tool. If you blog it they will come.

It’s way more complicated than that.

About 40% of my revenue comes from attorneys who find me using Google. It’s because of my blog, but in a roundabout way. The people who read my blog (random consumers) aren’t my clients (attorneys). But in searching for things related to fraud and finding my blog, the readers have increased my Google rankings for important search terms. Attorneys use those search terms, and they get to my website.

But I’ve been blogging since 2005. This site is therefore very rich in content that helps people learn about fraud and what I do. I have invested hundreds of hours into the blog for this payoff. Read More

24 Apr

Expert Reports and Testimony in Family Law Cases

The culmination of a financial expert’s work in a divorce or child support case is the expert report. This is followed by testimony, at deposition and possibly trial. The process of reporting and testifying should not be taken lightly, as these tasks make the financial analysis come to life.

The forensic accountant or financial analyst will complete a lifestyle analysis or other financial analysis, typically producing a report that can be understood by non-accountants. The financial expert always runs the risk that a user of the report will not understand it. This is especially precarious when the user of the report is the judge in the family law case.

The Report

Although a written report is not necessarily required of a financial expert in a family law case, a written report is recommended because it is the best way to present complicated financial issues. The report is a roadmap of the financial issues for the attorneys and the judge. Read More

19 Apr

Evaluating Fraud Tips

Insider fraud is most commonly detected in companies through a tip, either from an employee, a customer, a vendor, or an outside party. Anonymous hotlines are excellent tools for reporting fraud, but management must have a plan for evaluating these tips.

Some tipsters are okay with revealing their identities from the start. Others fear retribution or damage to their own reputations, so they prefer anonymous reporting. Just because a tip is anonymous, that does not mean it is any less credible than an allegation made by someone who is open about her or his identity. However, if someone is willing to reveal her or his identity when providing a tip, it may lend additional credibility to the information.

Employees are sometimes worried that a hotline or other anonymous reporting mechanism might lead people to make false reports about others. While this does happen sometimes, those reports usually appear suspicious and are quickly identified as meritless. Read More

16 Apr

Changing Auditors: What Does It Mean?

The firm that audits a company’s financial statements is very important. Audited statements are used by shareholders, lenders, and other interested parties to make decisions about the company and its future.

When companies change auditors, it can signal a few different things. There may be legitimate business reasons for making a change, but there could instead be problems within the company. Learn more in this video.

13 Apr

Digital Data Analysis to Find Fraud

In some ways, it seems like fraud has gotten easier in the age of the internet. People can hack into databases and get access to information they never could have gotten unless they traveled somewhere and physically broken into a building. Electronic banking and the ease of purchasing things on the internet also make it seem as though fraud is easier to commit.

In some ways, it may be easier to initiate a fraud. For example, it previously required someone’s signature on a check to get money out of a bank account. Now, with a push of a button, someone can initiate an electronic transfer to get money out of a bank account. In companies with poor internal controls, it may be incredibly easy to facilitate a fraud this way Read More

10 Apr

Preserving Evidence in a Fraud Investigation

Document management is critical in any fraud investigation. Larger cases mean more documents, so the process of managing them is even more important (and maybe more complicated).

Part of the document management process is preserving original evidence so that it may someday be used in court. While an investigator often never knows if a case will ultimately end up in front of a judge, the most prudent way to handle evidence is to assume that you will be in court one day and to handle the evidence carefully.

Digital evidence is relatively easy to preserve if you use the help of a knowledgeable professional. Your best bet is to bring in someone who is an expert in computer forensics, preferably someone who has testified in court several times. That person is most likely to properly preserve digital evidence for later presentation in court. Read More

05 Apr

Family Law: Financial Discovery Checklist

Below is a lengthy list of items that a divorce attorney should consider requesting in discovery in family law cases. In an ordinary divorce or child support matter, many of these items will be irrelevant or non-existent.

This list is provided to give you a comprehensive list of items you should consider. However, this list is not exhaustive, and depending on the unique financial issues in your case, additional items may need to be requested.

Basic financial documents to request or subpoena: Read More