SALISBURY, MD---Some of the nation’s most prominent anti-fraud experts convened at Salisbury University during the 12th annual Shore Fraud Conference, Friday, Nov. 18, in Perdue Hall’s Bennett Auditorium.
Speakers included Dr. Amy Block Joy, faculty and cooperative extension specialist emeritus at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis); Bethmara Kessler, chief audit executive for the Campbell Soup Co.; Dr. Mark Nigrini, faculty at the University of West Virginia; and Nathan Mueller, former ING employee and convicted fraudster.
Block told her personal story about the dangers — and importance — of speaking out about workplace embezzlement during the presentation, “Telling the Truth at Any Cost: Retaliation and Finding Redemption.” In 2006, she filed a whistleblower complaint against UC Davis, alleging fraudulent activities within the UC Food Stamp Nutrition Education Program, of which she was the director. The U.S. Department of Agriculture verified many of her claims, resulting in the California Department of Social Services withholding some $2.3 million in funding from the university. She stepped down as director in 2007, ultimately reaching a personal settlement with UC Davis for nearly $800,000 over retaliation for her whistleblowing.
Kessler, CFE, CISA, former chief audit executive and co-chief compliance officer for Warner Music Group, has held leadership positions in audit, compliance, risk management, corporate investigation, business process improvement and information technology for leading companies including EMI Group, Avon Products, Nabisco and Ernst & Young. She detailed case studies of major embezzlements.
Nigrini, author of Forensic Analytics and Benford’s Law, discussed “Uncovering Real-Life Fraud Cases: Using the Application of Data Analytics Methods.” His forensic work has been featured in national media including the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, and he has consulted for national and international companies including Procter & Gamble, Burger King and American Airlines. In 2014, Nigrini and co-author Mueller won the Association for Computing Machinery’s prestigious Eugene L. Lawler Award for Humanitarian Contributions within Computer Science and Informatics for their article, “Lessons from an $8 Million Fraud” in the Journal of Accountancy.
Mueller played a key role in transitioning his former reinsurance company’s operations into new owner ING’s enterprise resource planning system before embarking on a four-year fraud scheme that resulted in the embezzlement of some $8.5 million. During his five-year federal prison sentence, which ended in 2014, he played an integral role in developing and expanding a community outreach program through which white-collar inmates spoke about business ethics. Nigrini discussed his case from an analytics perspective before Mueller provided a first-hand account.
Nearly 300 professionals and 100 Perdue School of Business students attended the conference. The highlight of the conference was the presentation of a donation of $13,500 by the Maryland Chapter #21 of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. This donation is to endow a fraud library at the university. The library will greatly enhance the Fraud & Forensic Accounting certificate program currently in development by the Accounting & Legal Studies department. The program will include five courses: Fraud Examination, Advanced Fraud Examination, Fraud Detection & Prevention Technologies, Financial Statement Fraud, and White-Collar Fraud. The Fraud Examination course is presently being offered. The remaining courses will be offered beginning in the 2017 fall semester.