Shaun Aghili, DBA, CFE

Assistant professor, Concordia University College of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada

By Interview by Cora Bullock; Photo by Andreas Schwabe

cora-bullock-80x80   I'm a CFE 

MarchApril-shaun-aghiliAghili is lead faculty for the Master of Information Systems Security Assurance Management (MISAM) at Concordia University and has taken full advantage of the ACFE’s Anti-Fraud Education Partnership ( “I share [ACFE founder and Chairman] Dr. [Joseph T.] Wells’ view that a quality accounting (or business) curriculum ought to include a course in fraud examination,” he says. “Fraud examination is a required course in our new MISAM curriculum because I cannot imagine how an IT auditor can be truly effective in his or her job without a solid, overall understanding of fraud.” 

I was born in Iran, but left as a young teenager to attend a boarding school in Switzerland. I then came to the U.S. in the late 1970s and finished my high school studies by attending Georgetown Preparatory School in Maryland. I completed my undergraduate degree in liberal arts with an emphasis in financial management at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

I started my first semester at Catholic University as a French literature major since I had studied French since kindergarten. In my second semester, to fulfill degree requirements, I decided to try my hand at an economics elective. The following semester I switched my emphasis to financial management. I continued on the same overall academic track to eventually earn a doctorate degree in business administration (DBA) in 2003. 

I spent more than 15 years in the financial services industry before getting into full-time teaching. In the 1990s, I held various positions in the U.S. mortgage banking industry, a sector that has had a long history of being plagued by fraud. After earning my DBA, I decided to focus my ongoing financial management studies on the topic of financial fraud and its implications in the world of business and finance after reading Dr. Joseph T. Wells’ book, “Corporate Fraud Handbook.” I started doing some research about the ACFE and the CFE designation. The whole field seemed very fascinating to me, especially because of my mortgage banking background. I earned my CFE in 2007.

Everything that I have done since college has been related to finance in one capacity or another. 

Like most young boys, I had childhood fantasies to be a detective or secret agent, but I had developed a great deal of admiration for several of my professors in college. In the late 1990s, I made a decision to pursue my long-term dream of becoming an academic in the next millennium and as a result embarked on my doctoral studies shortly after. 

The CFE body of knowledge has allowed me to differentiate myself in academia as a fraud investigation and prevention specialist. At my previous university, I designed an MBA concentration option in fraud examination. In my current capacity, I created a cross-listed fraud examination course that serves as a degree requirement for our MISAM students and a management elective for our undergraduate students. 

The ACFE has been very generous in providing me with a number of free resources, such as various videos, books and case studies, through its Anti-Fraud Education Partnership, allowing me to bring a great deal of instructional variety, depth and substance to this course. My association with the ACFE has also allowed me to make numerous professional connections with fellow CFEs from all over the world. 


I am one of those lucky people who gets to do what I have always aspired to do in life. For that, I am truly grateful. I get to teach, mentor and direct students; to me, this is a blessing.   

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