Blog

March 7, 2017 - Quickbooks Audit Trail: Fraudulent Behavior Detection

The QuickBooks Audit Trail (or Audit Log, depending on the version) provides a log of each accounting transaction and denotes any additions, deletions or modifications affecting the integrity of the transaction. The tool captures every transaction from the time it is initially entered into QuickBooks, and tracks changes to the original entry, including transaction type, date, account, vendor/customer name, transaction amount, quantity, and price. The Audit Trail also reveals the User ID under which the entry, deletion or modification was made. The Audit Trail is a report built in the QuickBooks ReportCenter– all you have to do is click a button to generate the report.

October 28, 2016 - Why Corruption Always Requires a Conflict of Interest

Kelly Todd

When it comes to corruption, there is almost always a common denominator: a conflict of interest. A conflict of interest exists when an individual or corporation has the opportunity – real or perceived – to exploit their position for personal or corporate benefit. Corruption occurs when the individual or corporation takes advantage of that opportunity and indeed abuses their position for private gain.

October 17, 2016 - Social Media Evidence: Where to Look and Protocols to Follow

By Lindsay Gill As a digital technology expert, it is fascinating to observe how today’s technology-centric world obsesses over anything and everything digital – especially social media. From sharing locations on Instagram and Facebook to live tweeting events, people constantly update their friends – and strangers, if their account is public – on their every movement. […]

August 4, 2016 - Adding the Value: Business Valuation Expertise in Divorce Litigation – Part Two

William Dameworth

In my last blog post, I explained what an active/passive appreciation study is, scenarios in which it would be conducted and the value that a business valuation expert brings to the table when performing the analysis. As a refresher, an active/passive appreciation study is often required in matrimonial litigation when an existing business or business interest is owned by one spouse prior to the marriage, or is gifted or bequeathed to one spouse during the marriage. Since we have covered the basics, we can now dive deeper and discuss the various phases and steps of an active/passive appreciation study.

July 25, 2016 - The Digital Footprint: Where to Look

The world of technology offers the opportunity for fraud experts to trace the “untraceable.” With technology becoming more popular and present in our lives by the day, people are conducting their lives more digitally, whether through email, texting, social media or Internet browsing. Collecting, analyzing and interpreting the electronic evidence of fraudulent activity is becoming more widespread in the fraud examination world, and will most likely soon become the standard.

June 21, 2016 - Adding the Value: Business Valuation Expertise in Divorce Litigation

William Dameworth

When going through a divorce, determining the marital value of private business interests can often get tricky – this is especially true if one spouse has a separate ownership interest in a business. An active/passive appreciation study is often required in matrimonial litigation when an existing business or business interest is owned by one spouse prior to the marriage, or is gifted or bequeathed to one spouse during the marriage.

June 10, 2016 - Strengthen Waged-Based Loss Cases with a Forensic Accounting Expert Sooner Rather than Later

Kelly Todd

I have worked in investigative financial consulting for more than 17 years, and during my tenure I have worked with attorneys in a variety of capacities to provide financial consulting and expert support in a broad range of personal and corporate disputes. One of those capacities includes serving as a forensic accounting expert on cases involving wage-based losses.

December 3, 2015 - The Give and the Take in Charitable Giving

Ralph Summerford

Charitable giving, while good with intent, is not always received as expected. Let’s say you and I give to a seemingly worthwhile charity. You may be surprised at who really takes from the charity – frequently, it’s the fundraisers and executives. Oftentimes the fundraisers and executives are one in the same, since many founders will leave the charity to start a consulting and fundraising business to contract with the charity. This is really where it begins to get out of hand.

November 16, 2015 - Benefits of Seeking Independent Counsel in an Accounting Malpractice Lawsuit

Ralph Summerford

Most CPAs will never face the underbelly of an accounting malpractice lawsuit. Those who do, however, will say the challenges are something they never want to experience again in their lives.

October 7, 2015 - Fraud Suspected in the Workplace? Employers, You Better Read This – Part Two

Kelly Todd

When you think of fraud within an organization, a newer employee may be top-of-mind, but according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), seven percent of perpetrators committed fraud during their first year and more than 53 percent had been with their organization for more than five years.

September 16, 2015 - Fraud Suspected in the Workplace? Employers, You Better Read This – Part One

Kelly Todd

There’s no way around it—according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, an estimated five percent of annual revenues are lost to financial crime. What do these numbers mean for you? Big or small, public or private – with statistics like these, there’s a good chance your business is more likely than not to fall victim to internal fraud.

May 7, 2015 - Technology Talk: Active Data for Excel

We all recognize budget is a constant concern for auditors and investigators. Oftentimes our technology budgets are just too tight. We find ourselves looking for powerful tools to add to our toolbox that do not break the bank. One of these tools is Active Data for Excel.

April 10, 2015 - Pre-divorce Business Downturn Syndrome

William Dameworth

Reflecting back on the performance of more than 1,000 business valuations over the last 20-plus years, I have observed the regular occurrence of an economic event in many divorce-related engagements that I have named the Pre-divorce Business Downturn Syndrome (“PBDS” for short).

April 3, 2015 - A Lesson on Investigating Fraud from A Fictional Investigator

Ralph Summerford

As a frequent speaker on the subject of fraud, people often ask me, “How do you investigate fraud?” My answer is always the same: You look for the anomaly. To me, it sounds so simple until I step back and realize that most people cannot see the anomaly, although it is usually right in front of them.

March 11, 2015 - Identifying Fraud Symptoms: What Really Goes on Between the Balance Sheets? Part II

Kelly Todd

Identifying fraud symptoms in financial statements requires observation and recognition. If you don’t look, you’re unlikely to find it. Worse yet, if you do look, are you sure you will recognize the symptoms of fraud?

January 9, 2015 - Identifying Fraud Symptoms: What Really Goes on Between the Balance Sheets?

Kelly Todd

Fraud, unlike acts of terror, murder, or bank robbery, is rarely observed. Instead, only symptoms or indicators, most often exhibited through changes in the financial statements, are present.

October 8, 2014 - Careful Out There – Ponzi Schemes are Alive and Well

Ralph Summerford

With all of the publicity that surrounded the Bernard Madoff, Scott Rothstein, ZeekRewards and Allen Stanford Ponzi schemes, among many others, you would think that people would have by now received the message about Ponzi Schemes; how they work and how those investors lose their money.

September 8, 2014 - When Crowdfunding Becomes Crowdfrauding

Crowdfunding is the relatively new process of using social media to receive small contributions from many different individual investors.

June 9, 2014 - Summation Shortcuts

by Leslie Parker   Rooting through and indexing large amounts of documents can be a complex and time-consuming task, placing undue burdens on investigators and clogging a case’s workload. This sort of complication can have negative effects on the timeline and outcome of a case. Enter Summation, an excellent multi-faceted software program used to keep […]

April 14, 2014 - Technology Talk: Excel Shortcuts

By Lindsay Gill

I was recently surprised to learn at a team meeting that my peers were not as familiar with the many Excel shortcuts that I apparently take for granted. Urged by our team to share more, I decided I should share a few of the more frequently used Excel shortcuts with you:

March 31, 2014 - Show Your Work

By Leslie Parker

With the increase in accounting malpractice claims being filed today, it is of utmost importance that attorneys advise their clients on how to act in anticipation of litigation rather than being forced to react. It is becoming more a question of when than if auditors will be sued by one or more of their clients at some point during their career, and they need to be prepared at all times.

January 30, 2014 - Cyber-security: Minimizing Internal Threats

Kelly Todd

By Kelly Todd

Like a magician’s sleight of hand, the barrage of headline news related to hackers and cyber criminals may divert attention away from the equally dangerous, but perhaps less obvious, threat to your corporate assets: employees. While trusted employees are moving, sharing, and exposing corporate data just to do their jobs, the malicious employee may be deliberately taking confidential information for personal gain or other nefarious reasons.

December 20, 2013 - Know Your ABCs – Serving on Nonprofit Boards

By Sarah Malcom

As professionals, many of us have had or will have the opportunity to serve on the Board of Directors of a nonprofit organization. This can be a rewarding experience and a way to maintain civic involvement and a connection to the community. But what if the nonprofit organization is defrauded by an employee, or worse yet, by the CEO? This event can have serious ramifications, especially if the organization receives government grants, not to mention the effects on those whom the nonprofit benefits.

December 20, 2013 - Information Requests: Making Your List and Checking It Twice!

By Sarah Malcom

It’s that time of the year — time for holiday food, decorations, and of course time to make our wish lists! As we’re jotting down those things we just can’t live without in 2014, what better time than now for a reminder of what our fraud examination information “wish lists” should include. At the onset of any case, let’s remember that we will not receive what we do not request. It’s better to ask for too much than to miss something important for lack of asking.

December 4, 2013 - When Should You Start Looking for Fraud?

Kelly Todd

By Kelly Todd

Larger organizations are more likely to experience fraud by an employee’s misuse of influence in a business transaction in order to gain a direct or indirect benefit. Small organizations, however, typically fall victim to the rogue employee who directly steals the organization’s assets or misuses its resources.

October 15, 2013 - Let’s Get Digital: Putting Benford’s Law to Use in Fraud Examinations

By Sarah Malcom

A man by the name of Frank Benford. In the 1930s, physicist Benford developed a theory of leading digits, now known as Benford’s Law. Benford’s Law tells us that in a variety of data sets, the probability of occurrence of each digit (0 through 9) as the first digit in a number follows a certain distribution. That is, the digit 1 will occur with about a 30% frequency, followed by the digit 2 at 17.6%, through the digit 9 at 4.6%. See Figure 1.

October 3, 2013 - B.Y.O.D

By Lindsay Gill

“Bring your own device,” or “B.Y.O.D,” is a concept that an increasing number of companies are implementing. B.Y.O.D allows employees to use their personally-owned devices in the work place. These devices can range from laptops and tablets to cell phones and flash drives. While B.Y.O.D may be a good plan in theory – employees can work with devices they are comfortable using – It is important for employers to thoroughly consider the implications and potential pitfalls before implementing a B.Y.O.D policy. Consider, for example, the following key areas regarding the security of corporate information and infrastructure:

July 9, 2013 - Debits, Credits, and…Edits?

By Sarah Malcom

As accountants, we know the significance of numbers.  But in the process of balancing our debits and credits, it is easy to forget the significance of words.  Although it’s important to develop and maintain our skills in spreadsheets, calculations, and analysis, our writing skills are just as important.

June 13, 2013 - Social Media in Fraud Investigations

By Lindsay Gill

There’s no denying it: social media has changed the way we interact with each other. People are tweeting live from events, “checking in” on Facebook, posting pictures to Instagram and commenting on, liking or sharing just about everything. The amount of personal information that social media users willingly put “out there” is staggering.

May 17, 2013 - Accounting Malpractice Is a Growth Industry

Ralph Summerford

By Ralph Summerford

CPA’s have close relationships with their clients (especially in smaller accounting practices) and rightfully so. Who else is better to understand their client’s financial and business affairs than their trusted CPA? And the relationship generally remains close…

March 25, 2013 - The QuickBooks Audit Trail: Leveraging This Tool to Expose the Footprints of a Fraudster

Sarah Malcom

By Sarah Malcom

Employers, if you use QuickBooks for your company’s accounting needs, you have a built-in tool for fraud prevention and detection at no additional cost to you: the QuickBooks Audit Trail.

March 13, 2013 - Computer Forensics v. E-Discovery: What Every Expert Should Know

Kelly Todd

By Kelly Todd

Increasingly, the answers to the most fundamental litigation questions – the “who, what, where, when, and why” – are contained in electronically stored information (ESI), which can be retrieved through electronic discovery (e-discovery) and/or computer forensics.

May 8, 2012 - Four Questions for Forensic Strategic: Sarah Malcom

Sarah Malcom

By Sarah Malcom

What about forensic accounting initially interested you?

I knew by the 10th grade that I wanted to be an accountant, but I was also extremely interested in criminal justice. While at UAB for my accounting degree, I decided to pursue my interest and minor in criminal justice.

April 17, 2012 - How to Find Electronically Stored Information

By Kelly Todd and Jeffrey Windham

In our case study, gas station owner, Morris, has alleged that Green Fuel, a small gasoline distributor, overcharged him. Both parties had inadequate and unsophisticated documentation, making determining losses very difficult.

April 10, 2012 - Electronically Stored Information: The Case Study

By Kelly Todd and Jeffrey Windham

You might not think that a small business would have useful or accessible electronically stored information (ESI). Consider this example of identifying and obtaining relevant forensic evidence to determine lost profit damages with this particular small business.

April 3, 2012 - Unlocking the Potential of Electronically Stored Information

By Kelly Todd and Jeffrey Windham

Think twice before you assume that an unsophisticated small business cannot possibly have any useful or accessible electronically stored information (ESI).

March 6, 2012 - Look for the anomaly to find fraud

Ralph Summerford

By Ralph Summerford Events may happen in a person’s life that can lead to an act of desperation. And desperate people may take irrational actions. I am talking about bad economic times, the failure of a business, the loss of a job, divorce, a family member on drugs, disease, children in trouble, criminal acts by […]

January 10, 2012 - So you think you’re an expert?

We’re strong believers that sharing your expertise is one of the best ways to market your business organically. Over the past 19 years, we have focused our business exclusively on forensic accounting.  We’ve positioned ourselves as experts when it comes to this subject matter. We don’t try to do anything else.

December 14, 2011 - Time off to discover fraud

By Lindsay Gill, CFE Regardless of the time of year, employees will always have reasons to come and go in the office. Vacations, conferences and meetings are a regular part of most employees’ daily schedules.  So rather than worrying about the empty chair they leave behind, take advantage of the time they take off to […]

December 6, 2011 - Preventing fraud during the holidays

By Lindsay Gill, CFE As we discussed in last week’s blog post, there can be more fraud during the holiday season for a variety of reasons. A few quick steps you can take to reduce your vulnerability to fraud include: Be present – The perception of detection is often one of the strongest controls against […]

November 29, 2011 - Why is there more fraud during the holidays?

By Lindsay Gill, CFE Fraud happens all the time, but the holiday season provides situations that people may try to take advantage of. The “fraud triangle” has three points to it: Need or Greed Opportunity Rationalization

November 22, 2011 - A staff to be thankful for

By Ralph Summerford We have a lot to be thankful for this year at Forensic/Strategic Solutions. Personally, I am so thankful for the wonderful team of experts we have assembled. It’s so much fun to go to work each day and interact and work with folks who are truly passionate, caring and sincere about their job.

November 15, 2011 - The Next 19 Years

Kelly Todd

By Kelly J. Todd, CPA, ABV, CFF, CFE Forensic/Strategic Solutions Shareholder As Ralph mentioned in last week’s blog post, our industry has gone through significant changes over the last 19 years since the firm was founded. For years, the forensic accounting industry has been full of generalists and practitioners wearing many hats and dabbling in […]

November 8, 2011 - Ralph reflects on the past 19 years

When I started Forensic/Strategic 19 years ago, nobody knew what I did. One of my signature lines is to tell people that when I started the firm in 1992, people didn’t even know what forensic accounting meant. They thought I was doing accounting for dead people! But today it’s cool and exciting and you hear […]

November 1, 2011 - It’s our 19th anniversary! Take a walk down memory lane with us!

Forensic/Strategic Solutions has been around for 19 years, but founder and shareholder, Ralph Summerford says it feels like it was just yesterday that he started his business working from home by himself. The firm has come a long way since then, and as our official anniversary month of November kicks off, we wanted to share […]

October 25, 2011 - Guarding Against Embezzlement Fraud: Defensive Measures

Ralph Summerford

By Ralph Summerford Now that you’ve gained valuable information from the first and second parts of our educational series, Guarding Against Embezzlement Fraud, we offer insight into defensive measures. It is extremely important to understand the necessity of an adequately controlled investigation.  The moment embezzlement or fraud is suspected,

October 18, 2011 - Guarding Against Embezzlement Fraud: What Can Go Wrong?

Ralph Summerford

By Ralph Summerford Welcome to the second installment of our three-part educational series on Guarding Against Embezzlement Fraud. Catch up on part one, Guarding Against Embezzlement Fraud: Developing An Action Plan. Simply adopting an action plan doesn’t necessarily eliminate the risk altogether. What can go wrong? Many varied problems. The reason unexpected situations arise is because […]

October 11, 2011 - Guarding Against Embezzlement Fraud: Developing An Action Plan

Ralph Summerford

By Ralph Summerford We’d like to introduce our three-part educational series on Guarding Against Embezzlement Fraud. In this first installment, we will discuss preventive measures you can take. The second part will explain how embezzlement cases can bring about unexpected problems, and the third and final part of our series will discuss defensive measures.