Dr. Wells is still sharing is anti-fraud knowledge

By James D. Ratley, CFE

jim-ratley-80x80.jpg   From the President and CEO

The quarter centuries do fly by! As I stood on the platform and presented 25-year pins to members during the welcome reception of the 25th Annual ACFE Global Fraud Conference, I was so proud of the thousands of anti-fraud practitioners who, through the years, have given themselves to "make the world a better place." (See The ACFE Anthem: An Ode to Integrity.)

I'm amazed how we've expanded since 1988 and how far our message is spreading through the world, but I'm much more impressed with the professional growth of fraud examiners. When we held our first annual conference 25 years ago, many accountants, auditors, law enforcement, investigators and others desperately wanted to learn principles of fighting fraud.

In the early years, a small group of ACFE experts formulated and compiled tenets that became the foundation of a solid body of knowledge. We now have principles that fraud examiners use to formulate hypotheses, obtain evidence, take statements and interview, write reports, testify to findings and assist in detecting and preventing fraud. Many of those original maxims originated from the pen of Dr. Joseph T. Wells, CFE, CPA, founder and Chairman of the ACFE.

In this issue, Dr. Wells gives us 10 fraud-fighting tips he's learned through his 44 years of experience. (He shared these nuggets during his opening-session address at the 25th Annual ACFE Global Fraud Conference, his last.)

I concur with all points, but I especially like his first one: Be Nice and Smile Often. "Fighting fraud is an adversarial process," Dr. Wells says. "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," he says. "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."

Though Dr. Wells may not be attending any future ACFE Global Fraud Conferences, he's still our top ACFE advisor. Fortunately, ever since I've known him, he's been willing to share everything he's learning about fraud. We're still the beneficiaries.

James D. Ratley, CFE, is President and CEO of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.

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