Tackling the Jesuit Mission with… Accounting

Tackling the Jesuit Mission with… Accounting

My time at Canisius so far has truly taught me all of the advantages of receiving a Jesuit education.  The values are far reaching throughout the classes, including the Forensic Accounting classes.  In other words, in class I am learning all the technical skills that a forensic accountant is required to know in addition to the idea that giving back to the community is important.

This experience is the result of a service learning component of one of the forensic accounting courses.  Throughout the classes in the forensic accounting program students learn, amongst other things, “red-flags” to look for that may indicate a fraud has occurred.  While these may not always lead to a fraud being discovered, it instills a questioning mindset that is essential for auditing.  In addition to being able to recognize the risks, the classes teach the students how to correct these issues and mitigate the weaknesses.

The knowledge of how to identify and correct weaknesses in a business is where the service learning came into action.  Working with the City of Buffalo, students were assigned to a number of not-for-profit organizations throughout the area with the task of assessing the accounting records.  After visiting the organization, students applied the knowledge from the classroom and suggested possible improvements.

Overall, this experience was great!  Not only was I able to apply what I had been learning in class but I was also able to give back to the community.  This was another great opportunity that the forensic accounting program offered me to make connections in the Buffalo community.

Can you Tell if Someone is Lying?

Can you Tell if Someone is Lying?

For those who claim that accounting is a dry subject and that it cannot be exciting, I suggest taking one of the Forensic Accounting classes at Canisius. While our definition of “fun” may differ, I can confidently assure that these courses will exceed your expectations. The classes are designed to incorporate current topics of white-collar crime by tackling how an investigation takes place and the specific laws applying to the cases. What I have found is that the topics are fascinating and the professors incorporate exciting ways to teach.

One example involves a mock-case that was assigned through-out the semester. The assignment was to conduct an investigation on a fictitious company and see if a fraud was occurring at the company. The process of gathering evidence and discovering the crime was a fun process! The case provided a first-hand example of what a fraud investigation truly entails. As the cases were coming to a close and the suspects were narrowed down, the professor added an extra element that transitioned the projects from good to great. In class at the time we were learning about different interviewing strategies. These strategies included certain mannerisms to look for as it may indicate a person avoiding the truth (something applicable to both investigating and the poker table!) Getting back to the project, once the suspects were identified, alumni who were familiar with the case came into class and acted as one of the suspects. The next step was to interview the suspects and try to get a confession. While this was a fun exercise, it cemented the different techniques used for interviewing.

Again, our definition of “fun” may differ but the classes in the Forensic Accounting program are not your typical classes. Each class has presented an interactive way of learning about an extremely interesting topic. Currently, I am roughly half way through the Forensic Accounting program and I am excited to see what the second half has in store for me! Be sure to check back for more!

Class or an Investigation?

Class or an Investigation?

Hi Everyone!

The Forensic Accounting program has been living up to its reputation to say the least.  While the semester has been passing by extremely quickly, it is fascinating what we have done.  Whether its learning how to handle an investigation or hearing from an individual who had first-hand experiences with uncovering one of the largest frauds in recent history it has been great!

First off, let me describe the scene.  The students walk into class and see about ten IRS Criminal Investigators standing in the front of the room.  Mind you that we knew they were going to be there before hand so it was not a complete shock.  The IRS agents then walked us through a mock-investigation of someone committing a tax fraud.  This investigation started with the students questioning an informant, requesting information such as bank records and tax returns, and even digging through actual trash to find papers thrown away by the suspect that could be used as evidence!  With much help from the Agents, we were able to gather evidence on the suspect that could be used in court.  Also, after the investigation was over, the Agents stayed with us and answered any questions we had regarding IRS Criminal Investigation.  The questions spanned from dealing with the investigation to what a career with the IRS is like.

Walking into a room full of federal agents hasn’t been the only exciting part of the Forensic Accounting program.  In one of our classes we listened to an individual who had first-hand experiences with uncovering the Adelphia fraud.  Specifically the individual was hired by and worked directly for Tim Rigas who was the CFO of Adelphia Communications Corporation.  The speaker talked of how he was hired about six months prior to the fraud being First-hand Expeirence of A Frauddiscovered and then how he spent years working with auditors and investigators in discovering exactly what his former bosses were doing with investors’ funds.  The speaker stressed the importance of ethics in the accounting profession and supporting work with proper accounting standards.  Such practices helped to keep the speaker out of trouble as he was following proper laws and regulations.  Hearing form someone who had such great experience was an eye-opening experience.  The moral of the story was always support your work and be sure to document something if it seems incorrect.  Both of which helped to keep the speaker out of prison.  In other words, the investigators were able to see that he was following the rules and was not participating in the fraud because of his supporting work.

The past two weeks in the Forensic Accounting program have been packed to say the least!  The lessons and experiences the students have had are unique to the program and teach great lessons.  I am excited to see what is up next!

Getting Started with Forensic Accounting

Getting Started with Forensic Accounting

Hi Everyone!

My name is Jon Corona and I am currently a student in the Forensic Accounting program here at Canisius College.  To avoid repeating information, I will refrain from writing an “about me” section in this post.  Although for those readers who are itching to know more about the author, be sure to check out the about the author section!

This is my first semester as Forensic Accounting student as well as my first semester as being a blogger (so please bear with me!).  This blog will be about my experiences throughout the year as a student in the program and I hope that those who read the posts will learn all that this unique and exciting program has to offer.

To get things started, I figure it is fitting to describe how I got started in the program.  The past four years I have spent here at Canisius as an undergraduate student at Canisius in the Accounting program seeking to fulfill the requirements for the CPA exam and find a career in public accounting.  Canisius’ great success with the CPA exam was one of the reasons that I choose the school.  In fact, last year (2013) graduates taking the exam ranked first in New York State in pass rates!

Learning how to Discover Frauds

What originally grabbed my attention in accounting is the idea of preventing and detecting white-collar crimes.  Fortunately, what I learn in my forensic accounting program is exactly that; the knowledge needed to combat such crimes.  Not only am I learning this specific and in demand skill set, I am also fulfilling CPA exam requirements.  Specifically, the CPA exam has an educational requirement which includes at least 150 credit hours of classes, among other requirements.  As a result, many students looking to eventually earn their CPA license will be enrolled in a five year program at their respective school.  In other words, the classes I am taking as part of the Forensic program are giving me a unique skill set while allowing me to fulfill my educational requirement.  Talk about a “win – win” situation!

Looking forward, my future posts will focus on the many highlights of the program as I attempt to summarize all of the great experiences of a student in Canisius’ Forensic Accounting program.  Feel free to ask any questions you may have!

Stay tuned and thanks for reading!

Create a Website?!

In my last project for my financial statement fraud class, we had to accumulate many different resources for a particular fraud and create a website. I have to be honest, I’ve never really tried creating a website before so I thought it was going to be hard. It actually wasn’t that bad and our website turned out to be pretty good.

The fraud that my group chose was Crazy Eddie. Crazy Eddie was a retail electronics company in the 1980’s. Eddie Antar along with his brother, Sam Antar employed many fraudulent practices to profit off of his company. One practice included cash skimming in which cash from sales was not recorded on the books. The Antars hide these funds in a bank account in Israel. After the company went public, they needed to inflate their income so they committed inventory fraud, underreporting accounts payable, channel stuffed and inflating sales.

Eddie was also known for his extravagant commercials trying to sell his products. Some of these videos can be seen on the website that we created. The website that we created is http://msf702crazyeddiefraud.weebly.com/about.html. It also contains web articles and documents about the Crazy Eddie fraud.

Sam Antar also has a website that gives many more details about Crazy Eddie as well as more resources. There are other websites as well that other students created. should be available soon and I will post them as soon as I can. This is just another example of some of the cool projects that we did in my fraud class.

NonProfit Fraud

Along with my fraud classes, I’m also taking a Non-for-Profit Accounting class. You wouldn’t think there would be many similarities between the two classes, but you would be surprised.

Nonprofits are a vital part of society; they provide free or low cost services to many individuals who do not have access to certain important services. However, nonprofits are more vulnerable to fraud for many different reasons. Many times nonprofits lack the resources to protect themselves from fraud.

Some nonprofits only have a few employees to complete the duties and obligations. This increases the chances of fraud because an employee can deposit money into the bank and also do the bank reconciliation. The same employee should not be completing duties that need to be segregated. However, many times managers and owners trust employees and do not question suspicious behavior.

Nonprofits usually do not have the money to hire more people or even hire an accountant. Many articles I have read suggest that managers at nonprofits simply verify and check up on their employees. They should review credit card statements or bank reconciliations. They should also follow up on any suspicious behavior regardless of how long an employee has worked there.

Just like businesses, nonprofits are susceptible to fraud. However, managers can be proactive about preventing fraud. People should also do their due diligence before donating to any nonprofit.