Category: ACFE

Tone from the top: Leadership’s challenge during a crisis

Leaders must find ways to engage with their people to motivate them, and this becomes increasingly important during uncertain or trying times. If done correctly, talking can be incredibly powerful. It can help relieve anxiety and help people find the strength they didn’t know was in them. Studies have shown that talking shuts down the brain’s fear center.

As Dr. Judson A. Brewer stated in a recent New York Times article, “Anxiety is a strange beast. As a psychiatrist, I have learned that anxiety and its close cousin, panic, are both born from fear.”

Fear and anxiety can be debilitating. Without proper communication in a crisis, it’s easy for people to spin and spread stories of fear, creating social contagion. To balance this tendency, in a crisis, leaders need to take their “tone from the top” to the next level.

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Whistleblowers: Tipsters not trusting the system? Here’s how to win them back

Whistleblowers: Tipsters not trusting the system? Here’s how to win them back.

Anonymous hotlines and tip-reporting structures are useless, of course, if informants don’t trust them. Employees won’t blow the whistle if they fear reprisals. So, their concerns often don’t enter case-management systems and frauds continue. Here’s how to earn back their trust, take them seriously and transform raw tips into valuable fraud examinations.

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Whistleblowers: A Fraud Triage System

As the use of whistleblower programs continues to grow, many organizations find themselves struggling to manage burgeoning caseloads. As a result, serious fraud investigations can be delayed (with mounting losses) while less consequential complaints are being investigated. The lack of a timely, systematic and repeatable process for evaluating and prioritizing whistleblower tips that contain allegations of ethical breaches can also expose an organization to increased regulatory risk.

While there is no single, “right” method for following up on whistleblower complaints, the most effective approaches often resemble the medical triage programs that hospitals and first responders use to allocate limited resources during emergencies, or a crisis situation.

Here are some useful guidelines for designing and implementing a fraud triage system.

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Take Your SOx Off

On March 12, 2020, the Securities & Exchange Commission adopted a controversial rule that exempts more categories of public companies from auditor attestation of management’s internal control over financial reporting required by Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, despite strong opposition by investor protection advocates.

The rules are intended to benefit low revenue companies even if the funds raised in the public stock markets are not small, according to, Release No. 34-88365, Amendments to the Accelerated and Large Accelerated Filer Definitions. The amendments become effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, which normally occurs a few weeks after a rule is posted on the SEC’s website.

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Speaking and Training on Fraud, Compliance, Ethics, and More…

Welcome to my site. I have spoken and been the keynote speaker for many conferences, including the ABA, ACC, ACFE, IIA, and IMA to name a few. I have designed customized training for the board, senior leadership, legal, compliance, internal audit, and others for some of the world’s largest organizations.

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Fraud Tip Friday: Small Dollars, Big Problems

Last week, a Transit supervisor and five others were charged in connection with a scheme to steal over $2 million from the agency. The kicker: the payments were under the limit of $5,000 – roughly speaking, that’s over 400 payments!

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Combating Fraud Through Effective Internal Controls

“Fraud is not an accounting problem; it is a social phenomenon.” Joe Wells

Most companies will not readily admit that their organizations may be vulnerable to fraud.
According to the 2020 Report to the Nations published by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (“ACFE”), which contains an analysis of approximately 2,500 cases of occupational fraud that were investigated between January 2018 and September 2019, organizations lose 5% of their annual revenues to fraud. While this number is only a general estimate based on the opinion, it represents the collective observations of anti-fraud experts who together have investigated hundreds of thousands of fraud cases. Based on the ACFE’s study, the median loss caused by frauds was $125,000, with 21.0% of the cases resulting in losses of at least $1 million.

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Compliance Thought Leaders You Should Be Following

Compiling a list of thought leaders in ethics and compliance is fun, but so challenging. There are simply too many thoughtful people in this field — which is itself enormous and wide-ranging — to call out everyone worth following. So below is a small slice of the thinkers in corporate ethics and compliance that I try to follow.

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Putting the Freud in Fraud – Part Two

While we can’t get into the mind of the white collar criminal, we can take a closer look at high-profile individuals who have perpetrated massive fraud at corporations and instances of fraud identified in practice, as well as some research, to help is identify a pattern of similar behavioral elements common to white-collar crooks and cultural elements common to their environments.

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