Accounting students learn how to crack the case

Collecting clues, gathering evidence, and following the trail to find criminals has an undeniable appeal, but few college students make any connection between those skills and the skills of an accountant.

The IRS has been making a methodical effort to change that misconception by holding mock fraud investigations in colleges and universities around the country.

The Adrian Project, so-called because it started at Adrian University in 2000, involves IRS special agents setting up mock criminal investigation and directing students how to use forensic accounting techniques to follow a paper trail to determine whether a money launderer, drug dealer, or fraudster is at its end.

Some of the techniques involve high-tech resources and some are more old-fashioned, such as interviewing skills. "They need to be creative in asking questions that will make an investigation progress, and creative in deciding what needs to be done to complete an investigation," said JoAnn Zuniga, head of the IRS Criminal Investigation Boston Field Office, at a recent event at the University of Connecticut.

"The program gives students a great opportunity to learn what a fraud investigator does," said Cliff Nelson, assistant professor of accounting, in The Advance, the weekly UConn newspaper. "It also gives them a chance to take charge in a simulated situation."

Ashley Ferrara, president of the UConn chapter of Beta Alpha Psi accounting society, called the experience eye-opening. "We were living in a story instead of just taking notes in a classroom," said Ferrara, who hopes to work in forensic accounting. "This is what it's really like."

Rich Brody, an accounting professor at the Anderson School of Management at the University of New Mexico, recently told the student newspaper there that the number of job applicants for special agent positions may increase as a result of the event.

"The students have an opportunity to experience life as an IRS Special Agent and directly apply what they have learned in the classroom," he said.

The IRS Criminal Investigations Division includes 2,800 special agents who work on criminal tax, money laundering, and narcotics-related financial crime cases.

Michigan Public Information Officer Steve Moore, who started the program, told the Valley Vanguard, the weekly newspaper at Saginaw Valley State University, that the IRS has a two-year waiting list for the program, which has been introduced in 10 states.

"By the end of the day," he said, "students will have a different picture of the IRS."
 

You may like these other stories...

Ernst & Young 2013 audit deficiency rate 49%, regulators sayMichael Rapoport of the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) found deficiencies in 28 of the...
Some of your clients may get away to business conventions from time to time. It gives them a chance to rub shoulders with colleagues, catch up on the latest developments, and fine-tune their skills. And, when the meetings or...
PwC must face $1 billion lawsuit over MF Global adviceA federal judge on Wednesday ordered PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to face a $1 billion lawsuit claiming that its bad accounting advice was a substantial cause of the...

Already a member? log in here.

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Sep 9
In this session we'll discuss the types of technologies and their uses in a small accounting firm office.
Sep 10
Transfer your knowledge and experience to prepare your team for the challenges and opportunities of an accounting career.
Sep 11
This webcast will include discussions of commonly-applicable Clarified Auditing Standards for audits of non-public, non-governmental entities.
Sep 24
In this jam-packed presentation Excel expert David Ringstrom, CPA will give you a crash-course in creating spreadsheet-based dashboards. A dashboard condenses large amounts of data into a compact space, yet enables the end user to easily drill down into details when warranted.