Infidelity and Fraud


What on earth do fraud and infidelity have in common? Quite a lot. While there may be no scientific studies available that analyze the correlation between financial fraud and infidelity, anecdotal evidence suggests there is a connection.

A discovery of a corporate fraud has often led to the discovery of a secret addiction like gambling, alcohol, or drugs. Digging into the financial records of a suspected thief finds a spending problem, a secret source of income, or theft from another party. Discovery of fraud has also led to a spouse finding out about infidelity and the existence of a love child.

The theory that fraud and infidelity are often related is simple: Fraud does not happen in a vacuum. It takes a certain mindset to be able to commit adultery and to be able to commit fraud. I have rarely seen extremely deceitful acts being confined to only one part of a person’s life. Continue reading

Becoming a Fraud Investigator (Course at CPA Crossings)


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:

Herbalife Charged Criminally for Bribery


This morning Herbalife (NYSE: HLF) was charged criminally for paying bribes to Chinese officials. The action is related to criminal liability under FCPA (U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act).

The company disclosed in an SEC filing today:

  • Herbalife violated the books and records and internal controls provisions of the FCPA
  • The company will pay $123 million as a settlement with the SEC and DOJ, and this amount has been included in current liabilities on the June 30, 2020 financial statemetns
  • If the company doesn’t have any other violations for 3 years, this deferred charge will be dismissed

Herbalife disclosed in May that it had entered into a settlement agreement with the government. Today’s court proceedings make it official.

It’s fun to see pyramid schemes being held to account, even if it doesn’t happen often enough.

No Collar Fraud: White Collar Crime Committed by Millennials


If you try to research fraud by millennials (those born between 1980 and 1994, currently 26-40 years old, also referred to as Gen Y), most everything you find will be about them being victims of fraud. It appears that millennials are the age group most likely to fall for financial scams, falling victim to consumer fraud twice as often as senior citizens.

But what about millennials as perpetrators of occupational fraud?

They’re at an age where they are moving into management, and may be at the beginnings of the executive ranks.

Wouldn’t it be important to know how likely this group is to commit fraud? Continue reading

From Chaos to Clarity in Financial Investigations


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

R. Kelly Shows Us the Importance of Tracing Funds


I’ve become really good at tracing funds through multiple bank accounts with tens of thousands of transactions. The goal is to find where the money went, and if we’re lucky find evidence of hidden accounts. I usually find a hidden account when someone is sloppy: a transfer to a bank that we didn’t know about, no matter how large or small the amount.

R. Kelly is currently sitting in jail after being charged in 2019 with 13 counts of racketeering, forced labor, and sexual exploitation of children in federal court in Chicago. He was denied bail because he was deemed a flight risk. R. Kelly’s attorneys claimed he was broke, though.

And now the Feds say they’ve found a bank account R. Kelly controls, and the account received at least $1.2 million last year.

How did they find this secret account?

Apparently R. Kelly was on a recorded line from jail when he told people to contact a person who was supposed to open an account to receive money indirectly from him. In other words, someone opened an account in their name to hold onto R. Kelly’s money for him. Continue reading

Learn How to Investigate Fraud


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.

What to Do When You Are Being Audited and Your Records are a Mess


How to terrify just about anyone: Tell them their taxes are being audited.

Even worse: When their books and records are a mess. (Or maybe even non-existent.)

Every number could be scrutinized. That means documentation must be produced to support the amount of each expense and the business purpose of the item.

Some of us are meticulous in our documentation, but if you are like most taxpayers, you have pockets of misplaced or destroyed data. Even worse, you may be in a situation where documentation was completely destroyed by a fire or flood. If you don’t have documentation, does that mean your deductions are automatically disallowed? Not necessarily. Continue reading

Using AI in Accounting? The ScaleFactor Scam


Artificial Intelligence (AI) is everywhere. And companies that fine new or better ways to use AI create advantages for themselves, largely because it may give them the ability to scale things a reduced cost, and also because it may attract new clients who want this technology advantage.

In accounting, AI is most typically used to automate bookkeeping functions: recognizing payees and automatically categorizing transactions, matching transactions (ex. matching a purchase order to an  invoice), automatically producing certain financial reports, basic financial analysis. (AI isn’t yet good at complex financial analysis, but the ability to interpret data will continue to develop.)

Overall AI decreases the need for manual tasks such as inputting data and routine analysis of financial statements. That frees up accountants to do more specialized tasks. Think of it as automating the administrative tasks so the accountants can do the creative tasks.

I also use AI in my forensic accounting practice, although you might not recognize it as that. When I use software to perform data analytics (which has been around for a long time), I’m using AI. The data analytics are often centered around analyzing large sets of data to identify anomalies or patterns that are concerning. But we can also use AI to help link sets of data (think of matching transfers between accounts or matching bank transactions to underlying accounting system data). Continue reading

Monat Income Disclosure Statements


Monat was started in 2014 as a subsidiary of Alcora Corp. The company has offers both skincare and haircare products, but has become known for its miracle shampoo and related products.

Unfortunately, Monat has been plagued by claims that the hair products cause hair loss and severe scalp irritation.

The distributors are called “Market Partners” and the company lists the following “perks” when you sign up:

  • Eligible for Independent Market Partner promotions and incentives
  • Your own replicated website/e-commerce store for easy ordering
  • 30% commission on retail sales, 15% commission on VIP Customer sales
  • Access to our physical and web-based materials to inform you, your team and your customers
  • No inventory requirements; MONAT ships directly
  • Freedom to explore sales territories locally and nationally
  • Prizes and fabulous incentive trips in recognition of reaching your goals
  • Access to Product Packs within your first 30 days of enrolling

Here are the income disclosure statements we have collected for Monat: