I'm a CFE

Amanda Malusky Krauss, CFE, CPA/CFF

Associate managing director, Axium Consulting LLC

Amanda Malusky Krauss’s passion for fighting fraud began early in her career when an employee of a firm she was auditing slipped her a note detailing a fraud committed by executives. Today, the lead for Axium Consulting’s internal investigations and forensic accounting practices says she’s driven to fight injustice and strives to always respect the humanity of the people she interviews.

I was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio, but moved to Chicago while working with PwC to specialize in forensic accounting and fraud investigations. My family and I are now back in Dayton. I love the friendliness, affordability, and opportunities for innovation and business here.

I’m an associate managing director for Axium Consulting, a firm that specializes in investigative services that helps clients worldwide respond to internal challenges and understand risks. I’ve been with Axium for over a decade, and I run its internal investigations and forensic accounting practices.

I conduct investigations for both public and private companies facing different types of fraud allegations, such as asset misappropriations, embezzlements, corruption, accounting schemes, kickbacks and conflicts of interest. My team handles all aspects of investigations, including witness interviews and analyses of financial records and electronic data. We bring outside expertise to investigations and help companies mitigate financial and reputational damages.

My team joins an investigation whenever a company suspects fraud. We first learn everything we can about the allegations and their scope, then we develop an investigative plan. Every case is different, so our procedures vary. As a guest lecturer at local universities, I often talk about how investigators have such a large toolkit of procedures they can use and adapt to a variety of cases.

My first exposure to fraud came early in my career while conducting an audit for a client. During a hushed conversation, an employee told me that the executives of the organization were perpetrating a fraud. The employee then wrote down the scheme and the affected accounts on a paper napkin. It was a weird position to be in as a young auditor with that kind of information. I told my supervisors on the audit team and, long story short, the company executives were eventually prosecuted for fraud, and the company no longer exists.

After that exposure and after working as an auditor for a few years, I decided to specialize in fraud and joined the PwC Fraud Investigations group in Chicago. PwC was a big proponent of having everyone on the team obtain the Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) credential. The CFE Exam Prep Course material was engaging and interesting to me, so I happily complied.

I embrace the interviewing skills I’ve gained in my career, and I enjoy continuing to develop them. I also approach interviews by remembering the humanity of the people I’m interviewing, whether they’re a whistleblower or the alleged perpetrator of the fraud. In a well-planned admission-seeking interview a couple years ago, the suspect confessed, and I could see that he was weighed down by guilt. When he looked at me with tears in his eyes after his initial confession, I suggested that he get absolutely everything off his chest and confess to everything he’d done. He stayed for hours after, writing a detailed confession and agreeing to a payback plan.

During a hushed conversation, an employee told me that the executives of the organization were perpetrating a fraud. The employee then wrote down the scheme and the affected accounts on a paper napkin. It was a weird position to be in as a young auditor with that kind of information.

One thing I’ve learned is how important it is to remain independent and objective. My job is not to reach a certain outcome; I simply lay out the evidence and findings, no matter what they may be. It’s also important to be persistent and patient. Information doesn’t just drop in your lap or quickly appear. The investigator must dig through records and gather information and evidence, and this can be a rather long process. It’s a challenge, but also part of the satisfaction of the investigative process.

My CFE credential has been very beneficial to my career. Having a credential from the world’s largest anti-fraud organization brings credibility to my work. I also appreciate the materials produced by the ACFE such as the Report to the Nations, the Fraud Examiners Manual and Fraud Magazine. I frequently reference these items in my work, and they keep me updated on fraud trends. I also enjoy the content and the networking opportunities at ACFE trainings and through various ACFE chapters. The latter is an especially big part of my life right now, as I’m in my fifth year as president of the Southwest Ohio ACFE Chapter.

Showing persistence and passion for the field makes a difference. Many will say that a job in fraud sounds fascinating, but the people who set themselves apart as truly interested, dedicated, hard workers are best suited for the anti-fraud profession. My advice is that people should find an aspect of the field that aligns with their passions. My chosen path of conducting fraud investigations is aligned with my heart for fighting injustice, which keeps me motivated and gratified in my work.

My motto is “to whom much has been given, much will be expected.” I’ve been given opportunities and doors have opened for me, and I’m grateful for all of it. In all areas of my life — work, volunteer and personal — I try to adhere to this motto and strive to serve others and make the world a better place.

I played the piano and trumpet growing up, and I still enjoy music and perhaps devote too much energy to seeing my favorite rock bands play in different cities. I also enjoy watersports and spend a lot of time exploring local lakes and rivers on a paddleboard. I also cherish time with my two kids in every activity possible; lately those activities include watching them play basketball, baseball and softball.

Anna Brahce is editorial assistant of Fraud Magazine. Contact her at abrahce@ACFE.com.