I'm a CFE

Michael McCall, CFE

Principal of MPM Consulting, LLC

Retired FBI agent Michael McCall has years of experience investigating white-collar crime in both the federal and private sectors. Throughout his career he’s learned that following the money is key to tracking criminals and continues to fight fraud as owner of an investigative company.

I grew up in Camden, New Jersey, and graduated with an accounting degree from Rutgers University-Camden. I always played sports. It kept me and my brother out of trouble, and we loved following the Philadelphia Phillies, Eagles, 76ers and Flyers. As I got older, I came to realize I wouldn’t make it to the major leagues, but I did become an FBI agent!

I’ve been a financial investigator my entire adult life. I have my own LLC in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, and over 35 years of white-collar investigative experience with IRS-CID, RTC and the FBI, as well as my private-sector roles with Raytheon, Forensic Risk Alliance and Guidehouse. I’ve found there are always people and organizations who need direction and advice on complex white-collar and fraud-related issues.

I serve as president of the Greater Boston Chapter of the ACFE. I also teach forensic accounting at Boston College, Stonehill College and Bridgewater State University. I enjoy teaching, as it’s an extension of coaching. But more importantly, I feel it’s my duty to give back and teach the very techniques I learned from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE).

After graduating from Rutgers University, I took an entry-level position with the IRS. After two years, I learned of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division (CID), which investigates tax evasion and money laundering. I applied and became an IRS-CID special agent. It was then that I learned about fighting fraud, chasing white-collar criminals and the ability to “follow the money.”

When I worked at the FBI as a special agent, I frequently had to pinch myself because of how lucky I was to be there. During fraud investigations, I’m still stunned to listen to victims explain how much money they’ve lost and have learned to treat such victims with empathy and respect.

My experience taught me to keep an even keel on all matters, especially those that involve a victim. I always try to teach my younger co-workers to put themselves in the shoes of the victim and know that you’re having a better day than they are, regardless of the crime. When handling evidence of a fraud or a crime, it’s always critical to document and, when necessary, photograph the evidence. Photographic evidence can speak volumes, especially several years down the road when you’re on the witness stand testifying.

Forensic accounting is the crossroads of law and accounting. It’s critical to be able to follow the money — to trace where the stolen funds ended up. The best way to get consent to prove an allegation when you don’t have a subpoena or search warrant is to learn to be an effective interviewer. I suggest that for every interview you do, have all your documents with you and a good understanding of them, and be a good listener.

It’s critical to be able to follow the money — to trace where the stolen funds ended up. The best way to get consent to prove an allegation when you don’t have a subpoena or search warrant is to learn to be an effective interviewer.

The investigation I’m most proud of happened while I was working at Kroll Associates in Manhattan in 1996. The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of an international company died by suicide in his home and there were so many unanswered questions. Many employees lent or invested their personal funds with the CFO.

My team determined by going through his personal bank account records that he’d embezzled a large amount of money from his employer. If you’re a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), you know it’s not easy to get access to anyone’s bank records without a subpoena. But we did it and were able to file a fidelity bond with the parent company’s insurance carrier and recovered much of the embezzled funds. It’s those types of cases that make you proud to be a CFE.

In the wake of the savings and loan crisis in the early 1990s, I worked at the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC), investigating why S&Ls were failing around the U.S. [The savings and loan crisis in the U.S. was a period of financial distress in the 1980s for the savings and loan industry largely caused by high inflation and interest rates. (See “Savings and Loan Crisis,” by Kenneth J. Robinson, Federal Reserve History.) Many of the RTC investigators I worked with at that time became CFEs to better work with FBI and Secret Service agents, and I decided to obtain the CFE credential as well. That’s a career decision I’ve never regretted. I’m proud to be a CFE and would never have been a special agent with the FBI or had the success in my post-FBI career without the CFE credential.

My advice to those starting out in the fraud-fighting field is to be open-minded to helping a co-worker. You never know what you’re going to learn from them or where they’ll take you. Also, be a professional. Treat everyone the same, and you’ll be rewarded. Don’t think you’re better than anyone else, and don’t let anyone walk all over you.

My greatest achievement is my three kids. My wife and I are very proud of our children.

Outside of work, I love being active, and although I don’t play team sports much anymore, I still love throwing a ball around.

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