Using the Net Worth Method of Proof in Divorce Cases

In divorce cases, forensic accountants can use the “net worth method of proof” to calculate income. This is used to search for hidden or unreported income. Rather than simply taking a spouse’s word for it that his or her income is X, we can do an analysis like this to try to verify the claimed income.  This method of proof is one part of a lifestyle analysis, in which we are analyzing the party’s lifestyle and determining if that lifestyle matches the income that is being reported. This video explains the process of completing a net worth analysis.

Litigation Work For Accountants

Why might an accountant providing traditional tax or auditing services want to branch out into litigation work? There are lots of opportunities for expert witnesses, and the work is interesting. Watch the video below for Tracy Coenen’s commentary on this topic.

Pink Pyramid Scheme: Harper’s Magazine on Mary Kay Cosmetics

In the August issue of Harper’s Magazine, investigative reporter Virginia Sole-Smith examines Mary Kay Cosmetics in an article entitled The Pink Pyramid Scheme. It is well-written, and in my opinion, it paints a very fair and truthful picture of life as a Mary Kay lady.

In this blog post about the magazine article, Virginia talks about the dream that Mary Kay Inc. is selling to unsuspecting women under the guise of “empowering women.” She talks about my website, Pink Truth, which is aimed at educating women about the evils of Mary Kay and other multi-level marketing companies:

Consultants Training Institute Video: Emerging Leader Tracy Coenen

Recently, I filmed an interview with Brien Jones, the continuing education executive for the National Association of Certified Valuators and Analysts (NACVA). The organization focuses on training professionals in the disciplines of business valuation and forensic accounting through its Consultants Training Institute (CTI).

Brien asked me about how I developed my forensic accounting practice, how I market Sequence Inc.’s services to attorneys, and what I like to do when I’m not working. Enjoy!

Fox News Exposé on Fortune Hi Tech Marketing

Fox News in Los Angeles did an exposé on multi-level marketing company Fortune Hi Tech Marketing. This video exposes the truth behind the company: operating like a pyramid scheme, dismal failure rates, false earnings representations, few making any money, broken promises, FHTM lying about its relationship with big name companies.

Fox interviewed me for their story, but you should note that the comments they used in this video were comments I made about MLM in general, not specifically FHTM.

Property tax sticker shock

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes today about the sticker shock property owners are having when they open their property tax bills. The taxes have gone up in general, but property owners are frosted because their assessments no longer match the real market value of their houses.

The reality is that property values are generally down, and municipalities that use some variation of “market value” for their assessments are treading on thin ice.

The newspaper reports on a property owner whose assessment went from $140,500 to $173,100.  The tax bill went up 27%, or $871. The homeowner says he couldn’t sell his house for $173,100 even if he wanted to.

Last week I was on CNBC’s personal finance show On The Money talking about this issue. I successfully fought my assessment last year, and encourage other homeowners to do the same.

I encourage homeowners to challenge their assessments if they can prove that they are out of line with market values. Local governments are going to have trouble, though, if property owners object in large numbers. The government still wants the same amount of money, so they’ll have to do a large rate increase to keep the cash flowing their way. This would mean that even if you are successful at having your assessment reduced, you might still pay the same amount of property taxes.

And in other “breaking” news: More than a month after a database of Milwaukee Public Schools spending was made public, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is finally reporting it. Why would the Journal Sentinel neglect to make a timely report of an issue so critical to taxpayers?

Here’s an interesting tidbit from the article: “MPS spokeswoman Roseann St. Aubin said MPS officials believe they have adequate controls over spending and they monitor bills to see that they are appropriate.”

I disagree. MPS doe note have adequate controls over spending. The district keeps contending that it has been cut to the bone and there are simply no areas in which to reduce spending. This database proves the exact opposite.  When are taxpayers going to demand that MPS quit wasting their money?

Bernard Madoff Ponzi Scheme Investor Losses: Recovery?

If you watch television, read the newspaper, or surf news sites, you’re sure to have hears about the $50 billion Ponzi scheme masterminded by Bernard Madoff.

The $50 billion in losses is merely an estimate. Some experts (like me) think that the actual losses will be much higher.

Stockbroker Fraud Blog discusses several options victims have for recovery:

  • Securities Industry Protection Corporation (SIPC) could provide up to $500,000 per account. (Although I think the customers of the “investment advisory” business which is allegedly where the Ponzi scheme occurred won’t qualify. Only regular brokerage accounts would qualify. And fraud doesn’t qualify either, only unauthorized trading or theft. It will be interesting to see how this one pans out.)
Expert Fraud Investigation
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CPA's Handbook of Fraud and Commercial Crime Prevention
Essentials of Corporate Fraud
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