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Accounting Forensics program prepares business majors for credential as certified fraud examiners

Posted: 04/15/2013
With its unique program in accounting forensics, Roosevelt University’s Heller College of Business is successfully preparing accounting majors to become certified fraud examiners.

Nearly a dozen accounting majors in the Heller College have already passed the internationally recognized Association of Certified Fraud Examiners exam and more than a dozen  are now preparing to take the test that distinguishes accountants in the area of fraud investigation.

“The Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) designation is one of the most respected credentials that an accountant doing investigative work can have,” said Rifat Gorener, an assistant professor of finance and CFE who teaches in Roosevelt’s growing graduate Accounting Forensics program, which is the only one of its kind in the region.  “At Roosevelt, we are not only training our students techniques for detecting fraud. We are also successfully preparing them to take the exam,” Gorener said.

The accounting forensics program began offering coursework and guidance in preparing for the CFE exam in summer 2012.  To date, every Roosevelt student who has taken courses through the Heller program has also passed the CFE exam.

“This is a program that goes beyond basic debits and credits,” said Pam Rapatas, a professional accountant and an MBA and Master of Science in Accounting Forensics major who passed the CFE exam on the first try last fall.

“My accounting forensics courses and professors have taught me how to dig deeper into where the numbers are coming from. They have helped me develop my interviewing skills and they have trained me to be more of a detective, which I have really enjoyed,” said Rapatas, who believes the CFE designation will give her a leg up as she moves forward with her career in an accounting field where fraud investigation is becoming a sought-after-skill.

Da’Nita White, a graduate forensic accounting major at Roosevelt and a professional auditor, agrees. “The program has made me aware of warning signs to look for and how to zero in on red flags and anomalies indicative of fraud,” said White, who passed the CFE exam in February and will graduate in May. “I hope to take advantage of growing opportunities in this area and to be able to serve as an expert witness in court cases involving fraud,” she said.

Fraud Examination, Computer Forensics, Financial Statement Fraud and Money Laundering are among the graduate courses that are part of the accounting forensics curriculum at Heller.  In addition, a three-day, instructor-led CFE Exam Review Course for students who become members of the ACFE also is available.

“I had to study pretty hard but my professors in accounting forensics helped me to prepare and to pass the exam,” said Khushbu Thakkar, a graduate accounting forensics major who became a CFE in December 2012. “My professors impressed me with the idea that I could do it and so I went for it - and now I’m just thankful that I have the CFE because it’s going to help me with my resume and in my job search,” said Thakkar, who will graduate in May.

The CFE is recognized as a critical credential for fraud investigators by the FBI, U.S. Department of Defense, the Forensic Audits and Special Investigations Unit of the U.S. government’s Accountability Office, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the U.S. Office of the Inspector General, and other government agencies, and is a sought after skill in major accounting firms as well. In addition, CFEs are paid significantly more than traditional accountants, according to industry experts, and U.S. News and World Report has identified forensic accounting as one of the “20 hot job tracks of the future” for college graduates.

“Knowledge about accounting forensics and the CFE credential are in demand, particularly as a result of the financial crisis and all of the fraud associated with that crisis,” said Husam Abu Khadra, assistant professor of accounting and a certified forensic financial analyst who also teaches in the Roosevelt program.

For more information, visit Roosevelt’s Heller College accounting forensics page at   http://www.roosevelt.edu/Business/Programs/MSAF.aspx or contact Rifat Gorener at rgorener@roosevelt.edu or 312-281-3318.