This past week I had the distinct pleasure of not only attending but speaking at the 27th Annual Fraud Conference which was host by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) held at the Aria hotel in Las Vegas. The conference got off to a great start with the keynote address from Academy Award winner Richard Dreyfuss who spoke a lot about his experience playing notorious fraudster, Bernie Madoff (ABC TV movie) Dreyfuss remarks about Madoff’s hedonistic mindset were fascinating as well as his comments about his own upbringing and career stating “ I was born in 1881 when the stories began that shaped my morale character and “ I get to play people like you(CFE’s) who stand for something” Some of Dreyfuss other choice quotes were “Whistleblowers and those who expose fraud are heroes” as well as “you(CFE’s) have a shot of restoring the honor of this country and saving America” Inspiring stuff that really hit home for many conference attendees!
Another session I sat in on was “Shining a Light on the Dark Web which was both informative and scary. It seems the dark web was initially developed by the US Navy to allow users a secure, encrypted means to transmit data. This is done through a series of network nodes called “onion routers” which peels away a single layer uncovering the data’s next destination. As it was explained the dark web has unfortunately become a criminal’s “paradise” where they can initiate transactions ranging from buying and selling drugs to communicating with terrorists to hiring a hitman to kill somebody. Crazy stuff and worse yet cyber-crimes on the dark web are becoming increasingly more sophisticated these days and will continue to be a major challenge for law enforcement worldwide in the future
The last session I sat in on “Sustaining an Ethical Culture, It’s Not Always Black and White” which was thought provoking on many levels. It was suggested that sustaining an ethical culture starts at the top and it is up to the CEO to set the tone for the rest of the organization. Ironically enough statistics show that the major culprit of workplace misconduct(60%) is being attributed to senior management. Not exactly leading by example! Other strategies that were discussed included posing ethical dilemmas to job candidates in interviews in order to gauge their response In addition it was suggested to encourage a culture of clear and transparent communication with employees and co-workers as well as emphasizing the importance of asking more for “permission” than “forgiveness” in dealing with day to day issues in the business.
My speaking session was titled “Fraud Victims Speak Out!” which was moderated by Andy Wilson who was the CFE that helped ISI back in 2003 with our embezzlement crisis. It seems our story never gets old and I must say we received some very positive feedback(and rounds of applause) after I spoke. Andy mentioned that many of the conference attendees had a lot of experience detecting fraud and “adding up the numbers” but really didn’t engage much with the emotional side of the victims. In an effort to educate our audience and further tell our story, I provided copies of my first book “Keep Swinging” to each session attendee. Hopefully by reading my book session attendees will more clearly understand the incredible toll that embezzlement can have not just on the business but on families, spouses, children etc. Not an experience that I want to revisit anytime soon! All in all, participating in the ACFE Fraud Conference and telling our story was not only well worth my time but it also served as a reminder of how far both me and ISI have come since 2003. Been a helluva ride!