How will higher-ed programs benefit pros in an evolving specialization?

By Victor Shaffer; Richard "Dick" A. Riley, Ph.D., CFE, CPA

victor-shaffer-80x80   dick-riley-80x80.jpg    Fraud EDge 

Fraud examination and forensic accounting programs, a relatively new trend in higher education, transcend traditional accounting courses and prepare students with novel and specialized fraud examination skills. As reported in the September/October 2011 Fraud EDge column, colleges and universities offer more than 50 multi-course programs in the U.S., up from only a handful in 2003. 

Anti-fraud courses train students to think critically, while often providing hands-on experiences with seasoned specialists who make a living catching fraudsters. Experiential training and skill acquisition are vital for professionals who want to make a living preventing, deterring and apprehending fraudsters. This column explores the value anti-fraud graduates can bring to business environments and how anti-fraud education can benefit students.


Over time, criminals become more creative and challenge auditors' abilities to detect well-concealed fraudulent activities. A professional who lacks anti-fraud training may approve a company's yearly ledgers without looking below the surface. However, a trained fraud examiner can uncover a pattern of illegitimate transactions and a related cover-up. Anti-fraud practitioners take professional skepticism to new levels. Anti-fraud programs develop critical thinking, investigative tenacity and the necessary communication skills to explain complex fraud schemes in simple language to law enforcement, prosecutors, attorneys and jurors.

Nevertheless, many of the more than 60,000 Fraud Magazine readers might ask: "If I hire an entry-level person (albeit trained in anti-fraud methods), instead of an experienced professional, what's the value to my organization?" Let's hear from some of the employers who make these decisions.

Franco Frande is chief of financial investigations for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and an executive-in-residence professor at West Virginia University. Some of the benefits he has experienced with new hires who have quality anti-fraud training include:
  • Shorter on-the-job learning curves. 
  • Increased confidence on investigative assignments. 
  • Accelerated exposure to more
advanced fraud schemes. 
  • Expert testimony skills. 
  • Advanced audit abilities. 
  • More complete data analysis skills. 
  • Networks of other professionals in specialized fields. 
  • Experience in working with professionals from non-accounting fields. 


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