Accounting Tip of the Day: 10 Pointers for Fighting Fraud

Posted by Teresa Bockwoldt on September 12, 2014
Fight Fraud with a Smile

We just read this great article from Fraud Magazine here is a snippet that we thought we'd share: 

10 pointers for fighting fraud

Dr. Wells' departing advice

Dr. Joseph T. Wells, CFE, CPA, founder and Chairman of the ACFE, offered suggestions for fraud examiners during the 25th Annual ACFE Global Fraud Conference, his last.


Fighting fraud is an adversarial process. You are trying to prove that someone has done something wrong. No one is going to fight you harder than a person who may lose his or her liberty. If you don't have the stomach for it, find another job. This is not a profession for wimps.

But that doesn't mean you can't be nice. As a matter of fact, the best fraud examiners and investigators I've met are also the nicest. They smile a lot, even when staring down crooks. It completely disarms them.


If you have an allegation of fraud, don't go talk to the suspect before you've done your homework. Learn how to use the Internet and to locate public records. I'm often surprised when fraud examiners — who should know better — talk to the suspect first, when that's normally the last person you talk to. Or, as they say here in Texas, just hold your horses for a bit.


I once worked with an FBI agent named Roy. He seemed like a hard-working guy. When he retired, I inherited all of his cases. But as I looked through one of his files after another, it became clear that he didn't even know what he was investigating. There was no method to his work — no rhyme or reason. So, in order to successfully investigate a fraud case, it's vital to have a theory of what occurred.

Every type of case, from bribery to embezzlement, has unique signs. You must learn what those are. Then it is your job to prove or disprove your own theory by examining these unique signs. In the end, it doesn't matter if you prove it or disprove it because in both situations, the truth will come out.


One of the surest signs of a rookie is to see vast criminal conspiracies behind every rock — to make a case complicated when it's not. That isn't to say that people don't conspire. But the majority of fraud cases are committed by one person, acting alone, trying to conceal the crime from everyone, including family members. If you investigate enough frauds, you will learn that the offender almost always finds the easiest way to commit the crime, and that is the method, which is consistently used.

We encourage you to read the rest of the article here. 

Tags: Accounting Tip of the Day, audit, fraud prevention, fraud, corporate governance, audit deficiency