Schneider Downs, along with the Pittsburgh chapters of The Institute of Internal Auditors and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, recently hosted the 11th Annual Fraud and Corruption Awareness Seminar.
The yearly seminar has become the premier fraud education event in the area, and this year was no exception. The focus for this year’s seminar was the local roots of the attendees, organizations and many of the speakers in attendance, combined with their national and global reach and expertise. In keeping with the theme, a Pittsburgh wedding-style cookie table was sponsored by Schneider Downs and included the famous DoubleTree chocolate chip cookies.
This year’s seminar kicked off with an informative session by Special Agent (SA) Robert Kickbush, Program Manager/NCFTA Liaison Officer from IRS-Criminal Investigation Cyber and Forensic Services. SA Kickbush spoke about cryptocurrency and cryptocurrency fraud, including some background on the technology and currencies available today. He also described criminal fraud cases where there was a need to trace transactions through numerous wallets and across exchanges using complex analyses and techniques.
Cynthia Cooper shared her story of being the whistleblower in the WorldCom fraud that came to light in 2002. Ms. Cooper stressed the many ways that internal audit departments can perform procedures to avoid such a disaster. Ms. Cooper also stressed the importance of feeling comfortable and confident when speaking up about a potential major fraud matter. Although her life and the lives of those involved with WorldCom were changed forever, she commented that she does not regret her decision and would encourage others to always do the same.
William Ward, who is a former judge and is currently in private practice as Senior Attorney at Rothman Gordon, and Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) Robert Cessar gave an entertaining and unique perspective on cases they have worked on. Judge Ward and AUSA Cessar grabbed the audience's attention by discussing a hypothetical fraud case with a Seinfeld theme. They also discussed rules and issues that are specific to criminal investigations based on their decades of experience for an informative presentation of the behind-the-scenes processes from both sides of the courtroom.
Tom Hardin, who was at one point known as Tipper X, provided thought-provoking insight into the role he played as an insider trader who then became an informant for the FBI. Mr. Hardin told the story of how he received inside information resulting in four trades that personally earned him $46,000 but cost him much more than those proceeds in the long run. Mr. Hardin discussed his arrest by the FBI and ensuing years of cooperating with them to provide information via the wire he wore in conversations with other individuals whom the FBI suspected of insider trading.
To close out an eventful day, Schneider Downs Shareholder Carley Taslov hosted a panel discussion on the top audit and fraud risks in 2023, keeping with the theme of the day, Pittsburgh-focused but national reach, with audit executives from some of the most premier organizations in the Pittsburgh region. The panel included Melissa Anderson, Chief Risk, Audit and Compliance Officer at Highmark Health, John Elliott, Director of Internal Audit at the University of Pittsburgh, Amy Donachy, Vice President of Audit and Security at Crown Castle, and Stacy Juchno, Executive Vice President and General Auditor at PNC Financial Services Group.
The panel discussed a wide range of topics from risks associated with current and emerging technologies to how to build and develop your career path. The panelists told attendees about interesting investigations they have been part of during their careers, including remarkable stories that prove that auditing and fraud investigation careers can be quite exciting!
Overall, the 325-plus attendees enjoyed the information-packed day and the opportunity to network with their peers and hear from excellent speakers in-person.
About Schneider Downs Audit and Assurance Services
Schneider Downs’ engagement teams are hand-selected by our shareholders based on skill sets and experience and are available around the clock for consultation. Each attestation engagement is subject to our comprehensive quality control and risk management system, providing an independent review of audit opinions, related financial statements and significant underlying working papers, to ensure that the highest levels of professional standards are met.
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