Fraud EDge

Research funded by the Institute for Fraud Prevention can radically change profession

While collaboration might seem like the obvious answer to solving complex — and even simple — problems, the world of fraud detection and prevention has been slow to embrace it in a critical area. We've underestimated the importance of research to assist fraud fighters in staying ahead of the curve. For years, the Institute for Fraud Prevention ( has been addressing that gap by supporting research on fraud-related topics and providing the mechanism in which practitioners, regulators and academics can come together to solve problems.

IFP's beginnings

Established in 2006 by Dr. Joseph T. Wells, founder and Chairman of the ACFE, and the AICPA, the organization's primary mission is to improve the ability of business and government to combat these [fraud and corruption] crimes and to educate the general public on effective methods of recognizing and deterring them.

In 2008, the IFP became an affiliate of West Virginia University, where the operations of the organization are housed. Since its inception, the organization has supported research on topics as diverse as small business fraud, the psychology and motivation of fraudsters and professional skepticism. The IFP supports two research project types: 1) funded research, which involves a monetary award to pursue a particular topic and 2) research requesting use of either the IFP's Public Company Financial Reporting Frauds Database or the ACFE Report to the Nation(s) Database.

Importance for practitioners

William Olsen, CFE, CAMS, CIA, principal and practice leader of the forensic, investigative and dispute services at Grant Thornton, says he's "passionate about fraud prevention." As the president of the IFP, Olsen has the opportunity to help drive the direction of future research and benefit from what has been accomplished to date.

From the standpoint of Grant Thornton, which is a contributing member of the IFP, some of the benefits of research supported by the IFP, according to Olsen, include:

  1. The ability to look at fraud prevention from many different levels. From the standpoint of government, research can provide regulatory guidance to help both inform and improve the process and outcomes. In the public accounting arena, increasing expectations to address fraud and corruption in conjunction with audits of financial statements puts new emphasis on the need for identifying prevention and detection strategies. From the business viewpoint, an increased awareness of risks and what's being done to implement controls is essential — particularly in a global environment — in mitigating risk.
  2. A "domino effect." The IFP helps all these sectors to do a better job in addressing the issues of fraud prevention, deterrence and detection, assists them to peer into the future and provides thought leadership to address fraud risks.

Olsen says it's been a rewarding experience to see how the organization has grown not only in size but also in its mission as it focuses on issues most critical for preventing fraud and corruption. "It has been a pleasure watching the evolution of the IFP," he says.

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