Forensic Accountant Procedures to Track Down Financial CrimesToday, we're going to do something a little different: we're going to 'follow along' as a forensic accountant in Phoenix goes through an example investigation. The routine activities of an investigator often start with something akin to the report of a whistleblower who points out a coworker's fraud. Such an event needs to be investigated rapidly in order to prevent further loss as well as to find out how far back the fraud extends -- the key to recovering any losses that have already been incurred.
One of the forensic accounting firms Phoenix features will spring to the case, sending out a forensic accountant -- possibly a CFF (Certified in Financial Forensics) or CFE (certified fraud examiner) -- to investigate the case. Every fraud is unique, with various distinguishing characteristics that offer investigators insight into the people who committed it. Bank fraud, insurance fraud, mortgage fraud, and securities fraud are all commonplace white collar crimes for a forensic accountant to investigate, though it hardly stops there.
In this case, our hypothetical investigator's first step is to figure out what his clients want to learn from his investigation. If their goal is to find lost money, that's one thing, but if their goal is to determine the exact nature of the fraud and try to prevent anyone from doing it again in the future, that's an entirely different investigation. Many times, it's merely the former, because a business doesn't want to admit to the public that they've been defrauded. The client may just want to confirm what they believe an employee is doing or minimize exporsure to wrongful termination.
After he collaborates with the client on the desired outcome of his investigation, the forensic accountant will develop a strategy for his upcoming inquiry, usually starting with an immediate interview of the whistleblower, and then moving into a deep and detailed analysis of the accounting records at the businesses. On rare occasions, the accountant will even need to interview other staff members or make inquiries outside of the organization itself.
In any case, the goal is to follow the money -- figuring out from the business' end where the money left to, and from the suspect's end where the money came from, a forensic accountant can connect the dots in a way that provides the maximum chance that the money can be returned.