Don Berecz joined the faculty at Georgia Southern University in 2007, after 23 years of government service with the FBI. Berecz will serve as the first director of the University's Center for Fraud and Forensic Studies in Accounting and Business.
Mr. Berecz, a licensed polygraph examiner, is a CPA and CFE. He belongs to numerous professional organizations to include the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, and the American Association of Police Polygraphists.
He was agency-certified as a financial investigator, police instructor, and polygraph examiner. During his career as a Special Agent, he was assigned to the Seattle, Illinois, and Washington, DC field offices, and was responsible for a wide variety of criminal investigations. He also participated in undercover operations, foreign counterintelligence matters, and recruiting for the FBI.
"There's no question that white collar crime has been, and continues to be, a major issue in corporate America today," said Charles Harter, director of COBA's School of Accountancy. "As a result, there is a strong interest in fraud and forensic accounting among our current and prospective students. Demand for courses in this area is growing not only among undergraduates, but among students in the Masters of Accounting program as well. Don Berecz not only has years of experience in this field, but brings a very real set of skills as a former FBI agent. Students will receive classroom instruction not only from someone with professional experience, but also from someone who has conducted a wide variety of investigations in law enforcement."
Berecz, who is both a certified public accountant and a certified fraud examiner, joined the FBI in 1983 and retired in 2006. During 23 years of government service in Seattle, Illinois, and Washington D.C., he worked in the FBI's white collar crime, foreign counterintelligence, and polygraph programs. In addition to serving as director of COBA's Center for Fraud and Forensic Studies in Accounting and Business, he is teaching courses in white collar crime and in forensic interviewing and interrogation.
"This center will give the University a way to reach out to Georgia and to the southeast to provide research, education, and consulting in this fast-growing field,"
Berecz notes. "We want to be one of the region's premier resource centers for identifying, analyzing, and disseminating effective anti-fraud practices." One of the Center's coming events is a Construction Fraud Seminar, which will take place March 6 in Atlanta and will provide a continuing professional education opportunity for practitioners.
Berecz has established an advisory board of practitioners to provide faculty guidance on future curriculum development, and that group's first meeting is set for Jan. 30 in Statesboro. He is also developing student internships and is involved in planning COBA's second Fraud and Forensic Accounting Education Conference, which will take place in Charleston, S.C. May 13-15. More information about the Center is available on the Web.
Looking to the future, Berecz is particularly pleased by the interdisciplinary aspect of Georgia Southern's fraud and forensic accounting program.
"Undergraduates in any program are eligible to pursue a minor in fraud examination," said Berecz. "Those 15 credit-hours can make any program truly interdisciplinary, and it can open new job opportunities for any student who has an interest.
"Last year Parade magazine listed forensic accounting as the ‘hottest job for college graduates,'" he continued. "I think that will continue to be true for a long time."
This report includes material originally reported on "The Creative Coast Alliance" and reprint permission has been received.