With more and more CPAs and their staffs specializing in fraud-related engagements, especially forensic accounting investigations, a look inside the Secret Services' cyber crime fighting division is a fascinating study in high-tech surveillance.
Known as the Electronic Crimes Special Agent Program (ECSAP), the division itself has grown over 900 percent in the last three years. There were 15 agents in 1996 compared with 150 today.
Although the need for the unit is obvious, the actual crimes are fairly routine and have existed for some time. While crimes include identity theft, counterfeiting and credit card fraud, the high-tech aspects of the tools used to commit the crimes make them easier to control, and as a result, more difficult to investigate.
As a way to tie this back to the accounting profession, ECSAP works closely with the financial services industry in determining potential problems.