Forensic accounting services involve the application of specialized skills and an understanding of accounting; auditing; finance; red flags associated with criminal and unethical behavior; certain areas of the law and research; dispute resolution and court procedures; and most importantly, familiarity with investigative skills to collect, preserve, analyze and evaluate documents and information, and to interpret and communicate findings. Investigations of sources of income and accuracy of income are sometimes performed as part of the financial services provided in collaborative divorce cases. Our professionals are some of the few people in the area that have these skills, understand the issues by virtue of their in-depth experience in this specialized field, and have earned credentials beyond their Certified Public Accounting (CPA) license, such as Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) and Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF).
While “forensic” means used in or suitable for court, we also provide these and additional services on a consulting basis outside of litigation as well.
Our Firm is dedicated to providing clients with the entire solution to their needs by offering services including:
Our team can help an organization improve its bottom line by providing a wide range of services, including internal control consulting, data analytics, fraud prevention and detection training and operational reviews.
Did you know a recent global fraud study revealed that a typical organization loses an estimated 5% of its annual revenue to fraud? We can help the proactive organization that seeks to protect its income and assets by reviewing its internal control structure, identifying design deficiencies, and providing recommendations. We can help establish adequate controls. Some organizations may also opt to have us test their internal controls to determine if they are in operation and effectively functioning.
By employing data analysis software, we can efficiently analyze large volumes of an organization's financial data. Anomalies and red flags revealed from the tests employed may indicate overrides of the organization's rules, policies and internal controls; mistakes or errors, such as duplicate payments or missed billings; gaps in controls; design deficiencies; needed process improvements or fraudulent activity. By identifying and addressing such issues, an organization can improve its bottom line and protect its assets. Data analytics can be employed in conjunction with our internal control consulting services or forensic accounting investigations, as well as on a stand alone basis. For example, someone joining an organization's Board of Directors may opt for data analytic techniques to identify potential issues before joining the Board.
Employees are on the front line every day. Studies have shown that tips from employees of their peers are the most common way fraud in the workplace is detected. Therefore, fraud awareness training for employees and managers is a critical component of a well rounded fraud prevention and detection plan. The association of Certified Fraud Examiners' reports that organizations with anti-fraud training programs experience shorter duration of fraud schemes and lower associated losses than organization's without such programs. Our Certified Fraud Examiners, not only present fraud prevention and detection seminars to the business community through various business and professional associations, but they can also perform training at organizations to educate employees regarding what action constitutes as a fraud, red flags of fraudulent activity, common fraud schemes, and how to report questionable activity.
Organizations sometimes have lines of business, departments or programs whose income and expenses are not separately tracked within the organization’s accounting records. As a result, when a need arises to evaluate the cost/benefit or profitability of such activities, the organization cannot easily extract the data necessary to perform such analyses. Our professionals have performed the fundamental analyses/investigations to help organizations in these situations. We start by interviewing appropriate personnel to determine the direct and indirect costs of the line of business, department or program in question. We also analyze various documents and accounting records and develop methodologies to allocate certain indirect costs. Each of these financial analyses, including the manner of communicating the results thereof, is tailored to meet the needs of each organization. For example, some investigations have less of a financial aspect and focus more on gaining an understanding of the overall operation and decision making processes. Often, as a bi-product to our financial analyses, we are able to provide the organization feedback and recommendations identified during the process.
Forensic accounting investigative services can be employed any time an individual or organization questions (or needs to defend allegations of) the accuracy of certain transactions, reported income/expense, or reported assets/liabilities. We can assist in these matters as either a Consultant or an Expert. Such investigations and services are applicable for a wide variety of reasons, including those listed below, as well as other criminal and civil cases and non-litigious matters. We can be retained jointly by both parties to a dispute or by one party, as the results of our analyses, assuming the receipt of the same documents and information in both instances, would remain the same.
Our Certified Fraud Examiners (CFE) have investigated allegations of fraudulent activity in organizations of all sizes, from small emergency response organizations to publicly traded companies, as well as governments and not-for-profits. Sometimes we are asked to simply confirm the suspicions of employee embezzlement and theft and other times we are engaged to quantify the losses over a certain period of time. The results of our forensic analyses vary widely depending on the nature of the allegations. Such investigations have included employees' schemes of corruption, asset misappropriation, and financial statement fraud. We recognize that each case is different and the parameters of each investigation will vary based on the organization's desired end product (deliverable). We produce reports and supporting documentation necessary to prosecute the matter, if desired.
In addition, our professionals have experience investigating alleged deposit structuring and unreported income related to Cash Transaction Reports (CTRs), Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs), and/or income tax fraud.
We have significant experience in many aspects of the financial issues that arise during matrimonial proceedings, including the very basic, such as assisting a party with preparation of their statement of net worth, to performing an in depth lifestyle analysis. We perform financial investigations related to child support modifications, economic contribution claims, income determination, accuracy and use of distributions from assets in the marital estate, and allegations of hidden assets and unreported or deferred income. We trace assets, cash flows and financial transactions for various reasons, including to assist the court with characterization of assets as premarital or marital. We also perform investigations related to assets to assist the court in determining the nominal and beneficial ownership of investment(s) in, entitlements to, and control of the assets. Sometimes our findings are incorporated into business valuations performed for equitable distribution purposes. Our professionals have experience working with clients with very small estates, as well as those worth hundreds of millions of dollars and celebrities.
Disputes between owners arise for a number of reasons. Our forensic accounting services assist owners with investigations regarding entitlements to profit sharing or dividends, non-business related expenditures, unreported income, conflicts of interest, etc. The findings from our forensic accounting analyses are sometimes incorporated in business valuations prepared pursuant to dissenting shareholder actions.
On a somewhat related note, most post-acquisition disputes involve some form of financial forensics. Our forensic accountants have investigated the accuracy of payments made pursuant to earn-out provisions of a sale. Such provisions are specific to each agreement. As a result, the financial investigation entails obtaining and analyzing the financial documents necessary to recalculate and assess the accuracy of the payment(s) as compared to the earn-out provisions as defined in the related agreement. The timing of recording transactions, allocation of indirect expenses, revenue recognition, classification of expenses, are some examples of our considerations during such analyses.
Sometimes as part of a fraud investigation, we assist clients in preparing a claim against their crime and fidelity insurance policy for the loss resulting from the fraudulent activity. Our professionals have experience preparing fraud claims that have reached tens of millions of dollars. We can also be retained by insurance companies to evaluate and critique loss claims.
Some bankruptcy cases include issues such as fraudulent conveyance, concealment of assets, and unreported income. Our forensic accountants can investigate these matters, as well as preferential payments to insiders and the level of consideration for assets conveyed. We have the skills necessary to evaluate the "badges of fraud" and the co-mingling of personal and business transactions, as it relates to piercing the corporate veil. In addition, our professionals have experience investigating the factors leading to insolvency.
Disputes in the construction industry are fairly common. However, they vary in their nature, size and complexity. Our forensic accountants have been engaged to review the accounting and related books and records pursuant to the Owner's right to audit the contract. Our in-depth experience in the construction industry, which is subject to very specific accounting methodologies, makes our professionals able to effectively perform investigations that are required in certain contract disputes and claims.
The use of forensic accounting investigations is not limited to the matters described herein. Such services, which may include reconstructing financial books and records, may also be helpful to individuals or organizations in assessing if they have been paid or received the proper amount or proving to another party that certain transaction(s) did or did not take place. Some investigations may focus on whether a particular person has executed transactions within the limits of their authority and/or for their own personal gain to the detriment of others. There are also unfortunate situations where our professionals have investigated allegations of inappropriate transactions or missing funds in estates and trusts, where one typically expects their assets are safe. The possibilities of the need for a forensic accountant is limitless.
Economic damage estimates are prepared in connection with cases involving individuals, businesses or other organizations. Our services in this area include both the calculation of estimated damages or the rebuttal/critique of an opposing expert’s calculations of damages. We can be retained jointly by both parties or by one party to the dispute.
Economic damages include those related to lost profits, lost value, lost opportunity, increased cost, mitigation and restitution. Lost profits are typically claimed as an element of economic damages in a litigation setting and are the most common component of economic damages that we are engaged to estimate. We work closely with the client and Counsel to understand the facts and issues of the case to appropriately estimate lost “net” profits over the loss period with reasonable certainty. Our development of lost profit models and computations includes review and analyses of financial documents, court filings, deposition transcripts, and other information, such as industry data. It may also entail reconstruction of financial data. The circumstances of each case are different, and sometimes attorneys engage us to simply help with discovery and settlement or to rebut an expert report that has been filed with the court.