Fraud EDge

Ask me a question, part 1

Devising classroom role-playing interviewing exercises

In September of 2006, I attended a fraud and forensic accounting education conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for sharing information about the National Institute of Justice Model Curriculum Project. A report entitled: "Education and Training in Fraud and Forensic Accounting: A Guide for Educational Institutions, Stakeholder Organizations, Faculty and Students" was shared with attendees. One of the sessions included a discussion of the Adrian Project — an interactive presentation developed by an IRS criminal investigation special agent, Stephen Moore, for use with students. (The Adrian Project got its name from Adrian College where it was first used with students in 2002.) The IRS special agent who was leading the session put me in touch with Tim Shanahan, then an IRS public relations officer and special agent based in Rochester, New York, who helped me host our first Adrian Jr. Project on campus. (The Adrian Jr. Project is a shorter version.) Since then, Tim and his team of agents have regularly shared their time and expertise with my classes — always a highlight for my students. Tim has spent several semesters teaching fraud examination classes at other colleges in our area. In part 1 of this column, he shares his thoughts on necessary interviewing skills for anyone interested in pursuing a career in fraud examination. — Pat Johnson

Budding fraud examiners, of course, need to learn how to conduct effective interviews. Most major fraud examination textbooks discuss the interviewing process and many are excellent primers. The ACFE and other organizations produce excellent training videos. However, as authors of this column have written, students learn best by doing. How can we expand beyond the passive nature of textbooks and videos to bring hands-on interviewing experience to students in classrooms?

Here in part 1 of 2 parts, I introduce the framework for a practical scenario-based method for providing a live interviewing experience to students.

The scenario outline includes presentation of a fraud case complete with the fictitious company's accounting ledger books and records that the students are required to review, followed by live interviews with role players to uncover the nature of the fraud scheme and who might be responsible.

I always incorporate each of the following points into our practical exercises:


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