From the President

By James D. Ratley, CFE


Most large corporations need a Special Investigation Unit -- a team of diverse fraud examiners who investigate a case from every angle. Microsoft's Financial Integrity Unit, according to its director, Martin Biegelman, CFE, ACFE Fellow, goes beyond that. He says the FIU concentrates on "preserving integrity and prevention rather than just reactive investigations." Biegelman, a longtime ACFE member, says that creating and enhancing shareholder value is absolutely critical for his company's performance. "We also wanted to reemphasize to our employees that the FIU was there to protect them by mitigating their financial and reputational risk and working with management, and the legal and human resources departments," he says. So the SIU of old is maturing into an integral part of a robust fraud prevention that covers every facet of a corporation.

We've run some intricate fraud cases in the past, but it's often good to revisit the meat and potatoes. In the FraudBasics article, "A Few Key Controls Could Save Your Company Millions," Boyd E. Foster Jr., CFE, CPA, writes about a $7 million, six-year embezzlement case. The bookkeeper stole directly from the company's cash accounts by writing herself company checks. She varied her methods through the years as accounting circumstances changed, but the schemes were fairly simple. So how could she pull off the largest private embezzlement in Massachusetts history? Because they trusted the loyal, diligent bookkeeper. She had unsupervised access to the signature stamps with the CFO's name so she could prepare and distribute checks more efficiently. Kinda dumb, isn't it? But we know that goes on all the time in small businesses. 

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