From the President and CEO

Untethered from the office

By James D. Ratley, CFE

It was wonderful to see so many of you at the 26th Annual ACFE Global Fraud Conference. At the opening general session, I told attendees that ACFE founder and Chairman Joseph T. Wells, CFE, CPA, and I recently were discussing the future of fraud and what lies ahead for the profession.

I told them that when the ACFE was founded in 1988, the life of the Certified Fraud Examiner wasn't nearly as complicated as it is today. However, technology has quickly changed our profession.

In the cover article, "Fighting fraud on the go: CFEs enter smart new world of mobile devices," by Robert Tie, we find that many fraud examiners now carry their offices in their pockets. We conduct our jobs with convenience and speed.

But because it's so easy to unobtrusively make audio and video recordings with smartphones and tablets, Tie writes, a critical question arises: Is it legal to secretly make those recordings during interviews or on surveillance assignments? "It's complicated," says David Wall, J.D., CFE, CPA, PI. (Wall is a director in the forensic and litigation practice of SingerLewak LLP, a regional public accounting firm.)

"State privacy laws comprise a jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction patchwork of sometimes conflicting rules," Wall says. "But they all agree on two key principles." The first is that private individuals — and in certain situations, public officials and celebrities — have the right to a reasonable expectation of privacy, he says in the article. The second principle, according to Wall, is that it's illegal to intrude upon anyone's privacy without first obtaining that person's informed consent.

Tie then gets practical and provides app recommendations. "My smartphone is an absolutely critical tool for staying in touch with people, information and activities," says Brian Willingham, CFE, PI, president of the Diligentia Group Inc. in Katonah, New York. He loads apps on his phone for organizing educational materials, case studies, articles and schedules; and coordinating real-time conversations about documents, spreadsheets and presentations shared through the cloud.

I remember when our first fax machine at the ACFE was the most marvelous bit of technology we'd ever seen. Instant communication! But we were still tethered to our desks. No more. However, as Spider-Man's Uncle Ben said, "With great power, comes great responsibility." Read about the implications of the brave new world.

James D. Ratley, CFE, President and CEO of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, can be reached at:

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