I'm a CFE

Rasha Kassem, Ph.D., CFE

Associate Professor, Aston University, U.K.

As a senior academic and researcher, Rasha Kassem seeks to mitigate fraud risks, improve methods of fighting fraud, and better understand why fraud criminals do what they do. She says that investigating fraud isn’t enough to stop it and urges fraud examiners to innovate and explore new techniques for prevention.

I am fortunate to have lived in two countries with great histories: England and Egypt. I was born in Cairo, Egypt, and lived there for over 20 years. In 2012, I moved to the U.K. to study and work, and I’ve been there ever since.

I am currently an associate professor at Aston University. I teach at the executive, postgraduate and undergraduate levels; conduct impactful research; and exchange knowledge with policymakers, law enforcement officials and practitioners. My expertise is in fraud, forensic accounting, governance and auditing, and I research these areas in the private, public and voluntary sectors. I am also a consultant on insider fraud for the fraud prevention organization Cifas, and a member of the ACFE Advisory Council and the Cross Sector Advisory Group for the U.K. Government Counter Fraud Profession.

I investigate fraud through my research. I analyze real-world fraud cases and interview professionals, law enforcement and policymakers in various sectors to explore the psychology of fraud criminals, the methods of fraud perpetration and how to mitigate fraud risks.

When I find that fraud is prevalent in a specific sector, I conduct primary research to understand more about it. Specifically, I interview various professionals, members of law enforcement and policymakers to understand more about the prevalence of the fraud risk, its impact and perpetration methods, and how it can be mitigated. I then publish my research in academic and professional journals to raise awareness of fraud and inform policy and practice.

My interest in fraud began with the collapse of Enron. The scale and impact of that case was shocking and made me question where the auditors and regulators were and what went wrong. Imagining Enron’s impact on its employees, who lost their jobs and pensions, and investors, who lost their investments and confidence in the capital markets, motivated me to help prevent future frauds. Back then, I recognized the power of anti-fraud education and research in raising awareness of fraud and enhancing the skills of future fraud fighters.

My experience in fraud research, the knowledge I gained through my Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) credential, and the conversations I have regularly with various fraud examiners and other fraud fighters have enhanced my critical-thinking, analytical and research skills.

I’ve analyzed various real-world fraud cases through my research; however, Wirecard is one of the most shocking cases from my perspective. The case involved corruption, asset misappropriation, financial fraud and money laundering, just to name a few. It highlights the consequences of ethical erosion and the failure of audits and governance within institutions. It also shows the impact of weak regulations and accountability and investigative journalism’s significant role in revealing fraud cases.

The Wirecard case showed that fighting fraud requires a holistic approach, including implementing robust anti-fraud controls and governance systems, upholding the integrity and the tone at the top, reinforcing accountability, strengthening regulations, investing in technology and individuals capable of detecting and reporting fraud, and enhancing international collaboration.

Investigating fraud is insufficient to stop it. Fraud examiners must be more proactive in their approach to fighting fraud, and we need to explore new ways to prevent it. This requires a thorough understanding of the psychology of fraudsters and their methods. In the meantime, we need to better understand fraud’s impact on victims to support them. Exploring victims’ vulnerability is crucial for disrupting fraudsters and preventing future victimization. Also, fighting fraud is not the job of a single individual or profession. It requires collaboration from fraud examiners, policymakers, educators and practitioners.

Fraud examiners must be more proactive in their approach to fighting fraud, and we need to explore new ways to prevent it. This requires a thorough understanding of the psychology of fraudsters and their methods.

I learned about the ACFE through a search for fraud-fighting organizations on the internet, and the ACFE appeared at the top of my Google search results. Browsing the ACFE website and learning about its mission encouraged me to become a CFE. I am also a big fan of the resources that the ACFE offers such as Fraud Magazine and Report to the Nations as they raise awareness of fraud in interesting and engaging ways.

The CFE study materials and exam enhanced my knowledge of fraud, especially insider fraud. The materials are designed with care and are interactive. Publishing an article in Fraud Magazine is also an excellent opportunity for CFEs to raise awareness and enhance their knowledge of current fraud issues, and I am proud of my two articles in the magazine. I consider my fraud publications to be my greatest achievement. So far, I have published more than 30 fraud-related pieces and hope to continue publishing more to raise fraud awareness and inform practice and policy.

Obtaining the CFE credential has given me other great opportunities, such as joining the ACFE Advisory Council. The CFE credential is well respected and recognized among fraud professionals globally. Being part of the CFE community connects me with other passionate CFEs.

Succeeding in the fraud-fighting profession requires the passion to learn more about the nature of fraud and the determination and willingness to stop it. Enhance your knowledge and skills by reading about recent fraud topics and cases through the ACFE website and attending ACFE conferences and other anti-fraud events in your country. Connect with more experienced fraud examiners to learn from them. The ACFE mentoring program is an excellent opportunity for doing this. Fighting fraud takes time, so do not give up.

I love playing badminton. It reminds me of my childhood when I used to run, jump, and laugh with friends and family. I also love my usual shopping trips, listening to music, eating out and going to the theater with friends. We all need time to relax, and these are just the ones for me.

Jennifer Liebman, CFE, is assistant editor of Fraud Magazine. Contact her at jliebman@ACFE.com.