From the President

The power of one

Life as we know it has changed. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted individuals and families, young and old, governments and the global economy. While countries scramble to contain the virus and protect their citizens, we watch as global markets decline rapidly.

We aren’t on the front lines of this battle like our brave medical professionals, but we do play an important role in combating the consequences of this invisible enemy. As governments around the world quickly pour unprecedented amounts of money into our economies to fight the virus and stimulate a recovery, fraudsters are waiting in the shadows. We must stand ready to do our part.

Daphne Caruana Galizia had the same dogged pursuit of fraudsters and the desire to bring them to justice that you do. She was an investigative journalist in Malta who was unwavering in her pursuit of allegations of corruption by government officials and businesspeople in her country. Tragically, she lost her life because of that pursuit. Her son, Matthew, will accept, on her behalf, the posthumous 2020 ACFE Guardian Award.

The cover story points out that investigative journalism plays a pivotal role in fraud examinations. As CFEs, we pored over Bastian Obermayer’s research that brought the Panama Papers to light. Journalists and fraud examiners have a symbiotic relationship as we search for truth.

Previous Guardian Award winners will tell you they have risky and sometimes dangerous jobs. Often these reporters take on influential individuals, formidable corporations and mighty governments. Daphne knew that dark powers could try to silence her, but she believed that we mustn’t adopt an “attitude of benign tolerance” to injustice. Though her cause began in the small island country of Malta, her story resonates throughout the world.

Brave people are willing to fight battles to defeat the enemy — whether it be corruption or fraud, or the crippling effects of an unseen virus. We should never think that we can’t change our circumstances. Even one person can make a difference.

Governments, medical professionals, companies and individuals are making hard decisions every day. The dust from this pandemic won’t settle for a long time, and we’ll continue to feel ripple effects for months or possibly years. I encourage organizations to look toward the future to protect themselves, and their employees, against fraud in the wake of this global emergency. Fraudsters are already making plans on how to steal. We must make plans to stop them.

The coronavirus has dealt us all a devastating blow. But like Daphne and the previous winners of the ACFE’s Guardian Award, we must summon our courage to continue to fight fraud and corruption — no matter the circumstances. They remind us how much just one person can accomplish.

Bruce Dorris, J.D., CFE, CPA, is president and CEO of the ACFE. Contact him at