Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives

Economics & Business

Finding Fraud

New course teaches students how companies can minimize loss from fraud

  • News Image
    Gus Crimm gives a presentation about check kiting to the Fraud Examination class.
  • News Image
    Leigh Miller gives a presentation about employee fraud involving inventory to the Fraud Examination class.
  • News Image
    Michael Cantu gives a presentation on financial statement fraud to the Fraud Examination class.
  • News Image
    Professor John Delaney leads a discussion with students in his new Fraud Examination class.

June 05, 2013

As a former employee of Enron Corp., Leigh Miller knows all too well what can happen when employees engage in fraudulent business practices.

This summer, Miller is learning how to help her new employer in Georgetown learn to detect and prevent fraud.

Miller is one of six students who are taking a new class offered at Southwestern this year called “Fraud Examination.” The course is taught by John Delaney, an associate professor of business who teaches accounting.

Delaney said that although fraud examination is one of the topics covered in his advanced auditing class, in recent years the field of fraud examination has grown to the point where it deserves its own class.

“More and more businesses are holding accountants and auditors accountable for finding fraud,” Delaney said. Delaney also noted that fraud examination is now covered on the Uniform CPA Exam, which graduates are required to pass if they want to become certified public accountants.

The new class covers case studies such as Enron, WorldCom, Global Crossing, HealthSouth and Crazy Eddie’s. Delaney started one class by telling students about a person in the Chicago area who defrauded Chase Bank by a process known as ATM skimming, in which devices are put on ATM machines to capture people’s account numbers. A wide variety of other techniques can be used to commit fraud such as Ponzi schemes, e-mail scams, and “pump and dump” schemes in which brokers hype stocks to boost their price and then sell the stocks at a profit.

Delaney notes that in 2012, businesses across the world lost $3.5 trillion to fraud, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. Just reducing the amount of fraud worldwide by 10 percent would result in a savings of $350 billion a year.

“We as a society could do a lot of good things with that amount of money,” Delaney says.

Delaney belongs to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners and regularly attends meetings to learn skills he can pass on to his students. A recent workshop he attended, for example, focused on using the Internet to find fraud. 

Southwestern also is a partner in the ACFE’s anti-fraud education partnership, which gives students access to a curriculum suggested by the organization.

“Fraud really does hurt people,” Delaney said. “To the extent we can minimize it, it is good for society.”

Delaney teaches his class how fraud examiners should interview people to determine whether fraud has occurred and gives some real-life examples of scenarios fraud examiners have encountered.

Miller, who is now a financial manager for the Georgetown Rail Equipment Company, said she took the class because she needs more credit hours in accounting to sit for the CPA exam.

“This has been my most fun class,” she said. “It has been very interesting.”

For her final project, Miller gave a presentation on employee fraud involving inventory. Topics other students selected for their final presentations included financial statement fraud, check kiting, counterfeit goods fraud, tax refund fraud, and divorce fraud.