Fighting fraud with research

An interview with Dr. William K. Black, Executive Director of the Institute for Fraud Prevention

By Dick Carozza

We can't fight an enemy that we don't know. The Institute for Fraud Prevention, directed by Dr. William K. Black, is striving to build a statistical foundation that will increase the global body of knowledge and improve anti-fraud efforts.  

What do we actually know about the causes of fraud? Not much, says Bill Black. "We know too little about fraud and its causational factors and our ignorance greatly reduces our effectiveness," says Black, the director of the Institute for Fraud Prevention (IFP), a joint project of the ACFE and the American Institute of CPAs and other organizations, created by Joseph T. Wells, CFE, CPA, founder and Chairman of the ACFE. "[Governments] do not keep good statistics on the prevalence of major frauds, and we do not treat fraud as a serious crime. So the IFP's most valuable contribution might be to fund research on fraud and help develop statistics on fraud. We will urge governments to make anti-fraud efforts a far higher priority," Black said. See sidebar below. 


During a General Session at the recent 17th Annual ACFE Fraud Conference & Exhibition, Joseph T. Wells, CFE, CPA, founder and Chairman of the ACFE, asked for financial partners with the Institute for Fraud Prevention.

"We're seeking additional financial partners to serve on our 12-member board, which now has five members," Wells said. Current financial partners include the ACFE; the AICPA; the Japanese consulting firm D-Quest Inc. (which manages the ACFE Japan Office); and the accounting firm, Grant Thornton.  

"If your organization is interested in serving on the board, you will help determine the research direction the IFP takes and be influential in future decisions," Wells said. Each IFP board applicant pledges $40,000 per year for a minimum of three years, he said. Individual ACFE members are also encouraged to financially support the IFP. 

For board partner applicant information contact Jeanette LeVie at 


Black's many careers have prepared him well to be the director of the IFP. Previously, he was a lawyer in private practice, a senior regulator, and a lead investigator of the Savings & Loan scandal. Black has trained regulators, FBI agents, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys in detecting and prosecuting sophisticated financial frauds. He has also been general counsel and senior vice president for a major bank. In the mid-1990s, Black went back to school and earned his doctorate in criminology. He has taught microeconomics, public financial management, financial regulation, and a range of anti-fraud courses at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin and Santa Clara (Calif.) University.

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