The Face of Forensic Accounting


Tracy Coenen recently appeared in Milwaukee Magazine’s Faces of Milwaukee feature.

When you need to find lost or hidden money, forensic accountant Tracy Coenen is the detective you want on your side. She doesn’t just add up the numbers, she digs into the details to find out what really happened with the money and who has it.

Consider her a financial crime fighter: part accountant, part fraud investigator. Tracy utilizes background checks, spreadsheets, and financial paper trails to trace money through a complex web of entities and accounts. She uses these tools and more to investigate cases of corporate fraud and embezzlement, calculate damages in business deals gone bad, and help divorcing spouses figure out how to divide the money equitably.

It’s a task Tracy isn’t afraid to take on as she uncovers deals made in the dark and brings them to light. Companies find out who within their own trusted network took their money and how the crime was committed.

Divorcing spouses find money that was hidden and receive a fair share of the assets. Along with being a Certified Public Accountant, Tracy is certified in financial forensics, has a degree in criminology, and holds a Master of Business Administration. She has written four books on forensic accounting and fraud investigation, and has taught numerous forensic accounting courses to accountants and attorneys. More importantly, Tracy has gotten her hands dirty making sense of complicated financial situations for everyone from jilted spouses to ripped-off investors.

It’s a thankless job sometimes, being the one to reveal betrayal and deceit and outright fraud, but for Tracy, it’s a life dedicated to living in the truth, and finding it by any means necessary.

Focus on Fraud (Marquette Justice for Fraud Victims Program)


coverI was delighted to be a part of the cover story for the fall issue of the Wisconsin Institute of CPAs (WICPA) magazine CPA2b. The article, Focus on Fraud, profiled the Justice for Fraud Victims Program at Marquette University.

The program is part of the accounting program, and gives students the opportunity to investigate a real live fraud case. They get hands on experience, and victims of financial fraud receive pro bono fraud investigation assistance. I am the mentor for the students, guiding them through the investigation (but making it a little tough on them by making them figure things out on their own). Upon completion, we submit the investigation results to the Milwaukee Police Department and District Attorney for possible criminal charges.

Earlier this year, we were recognized by Marquette University President Michael Lovell for our community service via this program.

Click on the images below to view them full size and read the text. Continue reading

Blog Star


The internet offers infinite space in which to carve out a piece of blogger stardom.

INSIGHT – The Magazine of the Illinois CPA Society – November/December 2010
By Christine Bockelman

When CPA and financial fraud expert Tracy Coenen started her accounting blog The Fraud Files in November 2005, she intended it to be a way to market her name and experience. Five years and hundreds of posts later, she’s getting 30,000 unique visitors a month. She also credits the blog with bringing in at least 30 percent of her firm’s annual revenue. “And when I say 30 percent, I mean actual money in pocket,” says Coenen, owner of Sequence Inc., a forensic accounting and fraud firm with offices in Chicago and Milwaukee. “Not bad for a little bean-counter, eh?” Continue reading

World of Forensic Accounting Unveils How Companies Are Cheated Out of Millions


Millions of dollars are missing from a Milwaukee company, and an employee is charged with stealing a staggering sum of money. How deep the fraud goes is something investigators are still deciphering. FOX6 gives you a look at how they do it, and how they think one employee made off with millions.

In this interview with Milwaukee’s Fox affiliate, WITI 6, Tracy Coenen talks with news anchor Brad Hicks about how the Koss fraud may have been perpetrated, and how the company apparently made it so easy for former VP of Finance Sue Sachdeva. Continue reading

Marquette University Alumni National Awards


College of Business Administration and Graduate School of Management
Entrepreneurial Award
Tracy L. Coenen, Arts ’93, Grad ’96

Tracy Coenen may not know where the bodies are buried, but she knows how to follow the numbers. When it comes to forensic accounting, she wrote the book on the subject. In fact, she wrote three: Expert Fraud Investigation: A Step-by-Step Guide, Essentials of Corporate Fraud, and The CPA’s Handbook of Fraud and Commercial Crime Prevention.

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Accountants Who Focus on Fraud


Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
By Rick Romell

Tracy Coenen was a criminology major at Marquette University when a class on investigating financial crimes sparked her interest in forensic accounting – a field she had never heard of until then. She started taking business courses, eventually securing an MBA and the skills necessary to become a certified public accountant.

What does she do? Forensic accountant with her own business, Sequence Inc.

And just what is a forensic accountant? “It is someone who specializes in investigative work dealing with numbers. Typically you see forensic accountants having one of a few different types of focus. There’s a focus on fraud – finding it, preventing it. There can be a focus on litigation, where companies are suing each other and arguing about the numbers and need someone to sort them out. There can be a business valuation focus, where the accountant is looking to put a dollar figure on a business, and there can be a focus on insurance claims, both fraudulent insurance claims as well as insurance claims that just are large and need sorting out by numbers people.”

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A Master Plan


My Midwest Inflight Magazine
By Catherine Arnold

If you have big plans in business, it’s likely that you’ve thought about earning a Master of Business Administration.

Considering that the average cost of MBA tuition is about $30,000 a year—$41,900 a year at top-ranked Harvard Business School—not including fees, living expenses and loss of income, it’s not a decision most take lightly.

There are many reasons to get an MBA, and it seems that people are continuing to do so. In 2006, about 43,000 people earned MBAs, nearly twice the amount in 1991. So, why get one? Continue reading