20 May

Former Law Enforcement Working as Forensic Accountants

A comment on an old article here inspired me to resurrect the topic today. Do former law enforcement officers make better forensic accountants? I think that having “former law enforcement” in your LinkedIn profile lends some credibility to the forensic accountant, but does it really mean as much as people think it does?

Certainly, experience in law enforcement (especially a lengthy career) can be helpful. There are skills that are learned and developed over time. But the question for the forensic accountant is: How much of that law enforcement experience was gained doing financial investigations? Were the investigative techniques relevant to private sector investigations? I’ve learned that digging through databases and resources available only to law enforcement isn’t the same thing as doing a deep dive into the numbers to unravel a complex fraud scheme. Read More

09 May

Strip Clubs, Milwaukee Aldermen, and Bribes

For years the owners of strip club Silk Exotic were trying to open a strip club in downtown Milwaukee. They knew there was a market for what they had to offer. There were already a handful of strip clubs in or close to downtown, but for some reason, they couldn’t get approved.

Eventually, the Silk owners won a jury verdict of more than $400,000 against the city, but that still didn’t get them their strip club. Milwaukee appealed the verdict and lost. When they added attorneys fees to the jury award, the city was on the hook for more than $968,000.

Milwaukee didn’t want to pay Silk the money, so Silk’s owners made them an offer: Let them open a strip club, and they’d forgo the jury award. Silk finally opened its strip club in downtown Milwaukee last year. Read More

07 May

IRS Expenditures Method to Determine Income

When the IRS believes a taxpayer has unreported income, they will use alternative methods to attempt to determine the true income. One of those methods is the Expenditures Method. Tracy Coenen explains the basic methodology in this video. Note that this method of calculating income can be used in a variety of cases that involve allegations of hidden income including divorce, money laundering, and income tax fraud.

04 May

NACVA Value Examiner: Practicing Solo

Earlier this year I was interviewed by Rod Burkert for NACVA’s magazine, Value Examiner. Practicing Solo is a feature on solo practitioners, with the idea that it will help others who are solo or considering going solo.

Snapshot:

  • My credentials: CPA, CFF
  • I’m located in: Milwaukee and Chicago (I got my start and live in Milwaukee, but I do about half of my work in Chicago)
  • I’ve been on my own since: January 2000
  • Name of my firm: Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting (www.sequenceinc.com)
  • My practice sweet spot is: Exclusively forensic accounting

Rod: So the BVFLS profession isn’t exactly a calling. Tell us about your background and how you got to where you are today.

Tracy: For me, it absolutely felt like a calling. I am fascinated with the criminal justice system and I wanted to be a part of it. I majored in Criminology and Law Studies at Marquette University, and I saw myself becoming a prison warden someday. As a sophomore, I took a class called Financial Crime Investigation, and I was hooked. I started taking accounting and economics courses so that I could work toward a forensic accounting career. I worked as a probation officer while I worked on an MBA at night, finishing up the requirements needed to sit for the CPA exam.

My first job in the accounting world was as an auditor for Arthur Andersen. I got as much experience as I could while I was there, and then I moved to a small forensic accounting firm so I could get started in my desired specialty. After a couple of years, I left to start my own practice. I had visions of growing my practice by adding staff, but after working with a few employees, I decided that I liked the solo practitioner life better. I’ve been solo for years now, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I like being responsible for everything on my cases. I have excellent quality control, and I know the numbers inside and out. When it comes time for depositions and trial, I can answer the questions about the numbers confidently. Read More