Becoming a Fraud Investigator (Course at CPA Crossings)

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This Thursday Sept. 3: Becoming a Fraud Investigator course at CPA Crossings.

This is a 2 hour online course, and is the first in a 4 part series on conducting fraud investigations. It is jam packed with forensic accounting information, but it’s cheap at only $89 for 2 CPE credits!

What is it about? It’s getting you ready to perform a fraud investigation with information from a  forensic accountant like:

– Common workplace fraud schemes
– Red flags of occupational fraud
– Skills of a fraud investigator
– Planning the fraud investigation
– Budgets, fees, and engagements letters

Who should take this course?

Anyone who wants to learn to investigate financial frauds. Accountants, private investigators, risk management professionals, law enforcement officers.

Thursday, September 3, 2020 at 11:30am Eastern. (If you miss it, the course will be taught again on October 5.) The format is me on camera along with a PowerPoint presentation.

Please use this link to register so I can track the participants who found the class via my blog: http://cpe.cpacrossings.com/SITCBFI2?partner=sequence

From Chaos to Clarity in Financial Investigations

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The financial part of a case can become overwhelming very quickly. Particularly in cases involving white collar crime, securities fraud, Ponzi schemes, or other fraud recoveries, the trail of financial documentation is often very long. A forensic accountant needs to examine the financial documents and piece together the evidence in a way that attorneys, judges, and juries can understand.

When there are mountains of data, the investigator needs a way to quickly examine the data, assemble it in a format that is usable, find connections between transactions, and quantify results. Traditional forensic accounting techniques alone are no longer effective in these types of investigations. The volume of data can quickly overwhelm the investigator, and this affects the quality of the results.

Many of these cases involve moving money around rapidly between multiple bank and brokerage accounts to disguise the true sources and uses of funds. The long trail of financial documentation needs to be examined by a forensic accountant and the data must be pieced together to find where the money really went. Continue reading

Learn How to Investigate Fraud

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If you want to learn how to do fraud investigations from a forensic accountant what has over 20 years of experience in the field… here’s your chance!

This course is for:

  • Accountants who want to begin doing financial investigations
  • Investigators who need training on the financial aspects of investigations
  • Students considering a career in forensic accounting

The course is divided into 4 classes that are each 2 hours long. You can take all of them or some of them. You can take them in any order. In other words, none of the classes is dependent on the others. Each could easily be taken alone.

This fraud investigation course is being offered by CPA Crossings. The classes are online, generally offered one  per week, so you could take all four courses with a calendar month. These are not your usual boring PowerPoint with voiceovers. You get actual videos of me teaching with PowerPoints used to supplement and highlight the material.

Here is a summary of the four sessions, along with my affiliate link to register for the class. (Please use my link so I can get credit for referring you to CPA Crossings and we can track the success of my postings.) In future posts, I’ll go into greater detail about each of the courses. The series kicks off on September 3, 2020.

Becoming a Fraud Investigator  
Prepare to perform a fraud investigation.
Starting a Fraud Investigation  
Early stages of a fraud investigation.
How To Guide to Fraud Investigations  
Learn how to do an asset misappropriation investigation.

Reporting the Results of a Fraud Investigation  
Write a report on your findings and testify in court.

Calculating a Business Interruption Claim

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Tracy walks through the process of calculating a business interruption insurance claim, also called a business income loss. When a company is unable to operate for a period of time due to a covered loss (a fire, for example), its insurance policy may provide coverage that pays for lost profits while the business is closed. Tracy explains how to calculate net income plus continuing expenses in cases such as this.

Financial Statement Fraud at Public Companies

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How prevalent is financial statement fraud in public companies? In this video, Tracy Coenen talks about the most recent COSO report on fraudulent financial reporting at U.S. public companies. The most common financial statement fraud that companies engaged in was improper revenue recognition, followed by the overstatement of asset or the improper capitalization of expenses.

What benefits do companies and their executives receive from financial statement fraud?

  • The stock price goes up because the company is more profitable.
  • The company’s debt rating goes up.
  • The company is likely to be able to refinance its debt and therefore can reduce its interest expense. The company may also have fewer debt covenant restrictions associate with its debt.
  • Executives win because they will probably get higher bonuses that are tied to the profitability of the company, and their stock options will be more valuable.

Forensic Accounting Software

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The financial part of a complex case can become overwhelming quickly. Particularly in cases involving white collar crime, securities fraud, Ponzi schemes, or other fraud recoveries, the trail of financial documentation is often very long. A forensic accountant needs to examine tens of thousands of transactions and piece together the evidence in a way that attorneys, judges, and juries can understand.

When there are mountains of data, the investigator needs a way to quickly examine the data, assemble it in a format that is usable, find connections between transactions, and quantify results. Traditional forensic accounting techniques are no longer effective in these types of investigations. The volume of data can quickly overwhelm the investigator, and this affects the quality of the results.

Size Matters
Previously, the forensic accountant would use a technique called “scoping” or “sampling” when  the volume of financial documentation exceeded the bandwidth of the staff. For example, he might decide that all transactions under $1,000 are too small and insignificant to the investigation, and will only examine transactions larger than this threshold. Alternatively, the investigator might examine only transactions of a certain type or involving certain parties. Continue reading

Staying Independent in Fraud Investigations

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I would like to think that most companies are committed to doing business honestly. They try to do the right thing, and when a problem is found, they try to correct it quickly.

Even when a scandal is looming, I hope most companies would want to find the truth as fast as possible and take appropriate action.

Even when a company is committed to fixing problems, however, management does not always do it the right way. This is particularly true when it comes to investigating suspicions of wrongdoing. There are many times when such an investigation must be done by an independent party in order for the company to be in the best possible position following the conclusion of the investigation. Continue reading

Searching for Hidden Income

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The million dollar question in many litigation disputes, be it family law, a shareholder divorce, or other corporate wrangling, often centers around unreported income. Are there sales that aren’t being recorded on the books? Is the individual receiving cash for work done? Is revenue hidden to shield it from being considered by the court?

It would be lovely to be able to wave a magic wand and have all the “hidden” income magically appear. Unfortunately, that’s just not going to happen in this lifetime. The search for unreported revenue and earnings is a difficult one.

It’s one thing to examine transactions that have been recorded on the books and dig into the details of those transactions. It’s another thing altogether to try to find something that isn’t even recorded on the books. Where does a fraud investigator begin? Continue reading

Fraud During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Crisis

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There are so many things to be worried about with the COVID-19 pandemic. First and foremost is the health of our family and friends. But let’s not kid ourselves: The health of our economy is important too. People are already out of work, and many more may be out of work in the weeks to come. There are so many uncertainties.

Since I do fraud investigations for a living, fraud is something I’m thinking about a lot. And the fraud risks during this time of uncertainty and economic distress are great!

There are a few reasons for this:

  1. Many companies have reduced the size of their workforce. The fewer people working, the more difficult things become. There may be increased workloads, which is stressful. There is also often reduced supervision. This creates greater opportunities for fraud to happen, and likely impacts whether or not it will be detected timely.
  2. Working remotely is a great option if it is possible in your company, but it also creates opportunities for fraud. This is again related to reduced supervision of employees.
  3. Employees are facing greater financial pressures. This could lead otherwise honest employees to turn to fraud. They may tell themselves they’re just “borrowing” the money. They may justify a theft because of a dire need.

Continue reading