Tracy explains the purpose of a lifestyle analysis in a divorce case, and the process used to analyze the family’s finances. The lifestyle analysis may be used to determine how much money is required to continue living the lifestyle the parties had while married. It may also be used to find hidden income or hidden assets, and Tracy discusses how she may uncover these items.
Trust is inherent in any good business. We continuously place trust in our employees and in those with whom we do business. But that trust which is so necessary to the operation of a business is also the impetus for thieves to profit.
It is unfortunate that fraud occurs when and where you least expect it. Blood may be thicker than water, but that doesn’t protect a company from theft by family members. In fact, it may be just that trust between family members that is exploited by a dishonest sibling, uncle or cousin.
Some fraud experts suspect that fraud occurs more often in family businesses than other businesses, and that the increased fraud risk is due to the trust factor. Family members put more trust in one another and therefore grant one another more access and opportunities for fraud. The controls in family businesses may be lax, particularly as they relate to the oversight of management’s activities.
When fraud happens within an organization’s accounting system, there is often a paper (or digital) trail left behind. It’s unavoidable, as there is a record of something related to the fraud, whether it is a legitimate invoice that was later adjusted, an account balance that was changed, or a fake employee who was added to the payroll system.
Frauds involving bribery and corruption are different. They happen almost completely outside the accounting system, so they often don’t leave a paper trail. Management instead must rely on tips or other vague clues to the existence of such a fraud scheme.
Bribery and corruption typically arise out of relationships between people, so in order to detect them, management must often be aware of the personal relationships between employees and outside parties. That is clearly a difficult task, and often nearly impossible.
Financial statement fraud includes intentional, material misrepresentations. Tracy Coenen explains the concept of financial statement fraud to a group.
High net worth divorces often have a high volume of data which must be analyzed when doing a lifestyle analysis. How can this data be managed and evaluated accurately? Tracy Coenen explains.
Bank statements can be incredibly useful when searching for hidden income during a divorce financial analysis. Both deposits and expenditures should be evaluated, and the process is explained in this video.
Forensic accounting is sometimes called investigative accounting. There is a fairly wide variety of cases that can be done by a forensic accountant, with all of them having something to do with fraud or litigation. Tracy Coenen talks about some of the most common types of cases in which a forensic accountant will be called in.
A question often comes up relative to the lifestyle analysis in divorce cases: Isn’t is just data entry that anyone could do? Why do I need a forensic accounting expert?
As I explain below, the lifestyle analysis is NOT just a data entry exercise. A level of quality control is necessary in order to ensure that all transactions are included in the analysis and no transactions are duplicated. In larger cases, there may be enormous volumes of data to be managed, and the client needs an expert who can effectively handle the data. Also, the numbers must be categorized and analyzed. Sometimes estimates or judgment calls need to be made. That is the work of an expert.
Tracy Coenen teaches a group about some of the most common red flags of financial statement fraud. More information on corporate fraud is available in Tracy’s book, Essentials of Corporate Fraud.
Cary Spivak, investigative reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, joined Elite Protection Specialists earlier this year. While he is still employed with the newspaper full time, he is working as a private investigator part time and building his client base. Spivak is doing background investigations, and a press release from the company notes the importance of doing them:
Unfortunately, many people who ask for your trust are not trustworthy. Everyday we all see media reports about employees, teachers, caregivers and others abusing the trust they were given. These “trusted employees” are caught stealing or committing worse offenses. Often it turns that unsuspecting employers unwittingly hired people who had criminal records or a history of problems.
Spivak is a respected colleague, and I have seen him be fair and thorough time and time again. He has mentioned me a number of times in his articles. I would highly recommend Cary Spivak and Elite Protection Specialists if you are in need of a private investigator!