From The President

By James D. Ratley, CFE
Two decades seem like a long time, but for me, the last 20 years has passed in the blink of an eye. It seems like such a short amount of time has passed since Chairman Wells came to me with his idea of the "corporate cop" who had the knowledge to combat fraud, waste, and abuse. He described a professional who would not only have the ability to prevent fraud but would also have the skills and knowledge to conduct a fraud examination from "cradle to grave." 
We both agreed that it was an idea worth exploring further and decided that a logical first step would be to research available resources. Because this was before the Internet, I headed to the library and was able to find only two books on fraud. After we contacted the two authors, Dr. Jack Bologna and Dr. Steven Albrecht, they agreed that there was definitely a place for the Certified Fraud Examiner in the workplace. Both Jack and Steve would go on to serve as members of ACFE's first Board of Regents. 
That first interim Board consisted of eight hand-picked experts from the top fraud professionals in the world. They would be responsible for establishing the membership requirements for the new CFE program. At that time, the Associate membership didn't exist, and the CFE designation was the only membership category offered by what was originally called the National Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. 
I designed the first membership application on a yellow legal pad because the computer system we had was pretty basic. After Joe and I made a few changes, we sent it to a typesetter and printer to make copies. I used that same legal pad to record our first membership roster. When I started to run out of paper from the pad, we knew it was time to call in a programmer to design a computerized system to maintain our membership data. 
Within only a few days of our announcement of the CFE program, we received our first batch of 16 applications. As the chairman of the newly formed certification committee, I decided the lone female applicant would be the first CFE. Nancy Bradford is still an active member today, and she proudly boasts that her membership number is 00001. One of very few female applicants that first year, she went on to become one of our first elected Regents and later a full-time ACFE employee. Today she's an ACFE Foundation board member. Through the years, she has played a very active role in the ACFE's formation.


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