Career Exploration Help for Your High School Students: A Free Podcast Resource [Episode 133]


Here's What to Expect In This Episode:

I’m always looking to find new resources and information that will be helpful tools for high school students. Whether that be career opportunities, college options, or test-taking strategies, I want to get the right resources in YOUR hands to give to your students. So when I came across Dan Heath’s podcast, I knew this modern platform would be the perfect resource to provide high school students and their parents.

In each of Dan’s “What It’s Like to Be…” episodes, he interviews someone in a unique career to tell a story about their profession. Each guest loves what they’re doing, which comes across in the interviews. In this fun career exploration podcast, high school students can listen and learn about new careers that they may not have been exposed to otherwise. 

I hope Dan’s podcast will be just one more resource for career research and career exploration for your high school students. Use it to ignite their curiosity about what jobs are out there. Take this podcast into your school counseling program, and let students dive into career exploration to find what they want to do in the future!

Topics Covered in This Episode:

  • An introduction to the podcast “What It’s Like to Be…” hosted by Dan Heath and why I think it’s an invaluable resource for career research and career exploration for high school students
  • An overview of what Dan’s podcast is all about and how it can spark curiosity among your students
  • A preview of the podcast specifically an interview with Chris Ekimhoff, a forensic accountant; Chris talks about his career and what skills he uses on a daily basis
  • Why this podcast is a useful tool and allows students to think about different career choices that include their interests, skills, and strengths

Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

Meet Dan Heath:

Dan Heath is the host of the podcast “What It’s Like to Be…” Dan and his brother Chip are co-authors of four New York Times bestsellers: Decisive; Switch; Made to Stick; and The Power of Moments. The Heath brothers’ books have sold over 3 million copies worldwide and have been translated into 33 languages. Dan is a Senior Fellow at Duke University’s CASE center, which supports social entrepreneurs. Previously, Dan worked as a researcher and case writer for Harvard Business School.

Connect With Our Guest:

Read the transcript for this episode:

Lauren Tingle 0:08
This week, I wanted to introduce you to another podcast that can be a fun and useful tool in career exploration and career research for your high school students. I love the idea of passing along a podcast to them because well, for a few reasons.

Lauren Tingle 0:54
One, it’s free. Two it doesn’t require anything additional on your part, like you’re doing zero of the career research yourself like on your own. And you’re not putting together your own podcast or anything or crowdsourcing career videos for them and compiling them, you don’t really have to do anything. And three, it’s an easy medium that people are familiar with, for the most part these days. It’s really easy to consume overall, and it contains valuable insights. So I thought this would be a perfect resource to pass along to you all.

Lauren Tingle 1:26
I’m airing an episode of what it’s like to be on my podcast this week. The host of What It’s Like to Be the podcast is Dan Heath, and he tells stories almost with an NPR, This American Life kind of feel. I love the vibe when I sat down and listened to it. And I knew it was going to be something that I wanted you all to hear.

Lauren Tingle 1:45
Dan takes each episode and he interviews someone in a unique career and really uses this platform to tell a story about these different professions. While he’s talking to someone who loves what they’re doing that comes across in the interviews. What It’s Like to Be is a great listen for high schoolers who are trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives. And they need to peek behind the scenes and look at different types of careers that are out there.

Lauren Tingle 2:08
In this specific episode that I’m going to air Dan talks to Chris Ekimhoff who is a forensic accountant. Now let me tell you, I to be honest, really don’t know much about forensic accounting. So I thought this episode was really unique and really interesting.

Lauren Tingle 2:24
Dan asked Chris lots of questions and really covers it all when he is talking about catching embezzling CFOs to uncovering corrupt private school headmaster’s to sifting through fake invoices. It is a really interesting listen. He asked Chris questions like what are his go to moves for detecting fraud? And who is the most famous forensic accountant? Things that I did not know the answer to before listening to this episode.

Lauren Tingle 2:52
Okay, here comes the preview. I’m gonna roll it now. You can find more episodes of What It’s Like to Be wherever you listen to your podcasts. Of course, I’ll also link it in the show notes in case you want to head over and hit follow and start listening to this podcast yourself.

Dan 3:11
Chris Ekimhoff as a forensic accountant. One day, you got a call from a CEO who had discovered something about the company’s chief financial officer. And it wasn’t good.

Chris 3:22
It appears that he has been taking money from the business inappropriately and I’d like to understand how much and how it happened.

Dan 3:29
The company had been looking at its payroll numbers, and they noticed a discrepancy. The budget for employee salaries and benefits was $3 million.

Chris 3:38
And the actual spend that year was four and a half million dollars. That’s a 50% increase over budget which you don’t have to be account to know that’s massive. And so the CFO when questioned about it by the CEO didn’t make up a story. He said, You know, I’ve been stealing from the company for three years. Okay, and so the CEO is kind of gobsmacked right like anyone would be you’ve trusted this guy. He worked there for something like 15-17 years.

Dan 4:08
Welcome to the show. I’m Dan Heath. This is What It’s Like to Be. On each episode, we profile somebody from a different profession. We chase our curiosity about what other people do at work all day, every day. We try to walk in their shoes.

Dan 4:23
Today we’re chatting with a forensic accountant Chris Ekimhoff. We’ll hear about a headmaster who stole from his own students, we’ll learn about what sorts of clues you look for when you’re scouring someone’s records for evidence of fraud. And we’ll hear how this weary outlook always being on the lookout for people lying or cheating affects your perspective in everyday life. I’m Dan Heath, stay with us.

Dan 4:51
So what is a forensic accountant exactly?

Chris 4:54
So I use the shorthand in audit or general accounting services are a mile wide and an inch deep. You’re not looking at every single transaction, but you’re getting a general sense of how appropriate these transactions are. Forensic Accounting is the inverse. It is a mile deep, but only an inch wide. And that’s because you’re specifically looking at how are payments being processed in Uganda, are the right people receiving the appropriate amounts of money. Are we interacting with government officials in compliance with our policy and with international law?

Dan 5:27
So to circle back to that CFO, the one who had been caught embezzling millions of dollars? How did he get away with it? Well, for years, he’d been charging personal expenses to the company as travel expenses. But beginning several years ago, Chris told me that was no longer possible.

Chris 5:45
The kicker Dan was 2020, the global pandemic happened and travel ended. And in that year, he could no longer code, those expenses to travel. Because as all of us did in that day, you knew, if travel expenses were the same as 2019, you’re probably skirting a lot of the local laws and issues around COVID.

Chris 6:06
So he actually stopped stealing in 2020. And then in 2021, went back to start stealing again, but knew that the business was still not traveling to the degree they were in 19 and prior. So we tracked that activity through and he started coding it as an additional payroll expense.

Dan 6:21
Which was partly truthful, in his defense, it was it was an extra payroll expense.

Chris 6:26
We could spend the next hour talking about the tax implications of that issue, right? Because he was not reporting that income and the business was not recording that as payroll, because it hadn’t been done that way for the 10 years prior.

Dan 6:38
So when you’re brought in, in a case like that, there’s an anomaly, there’s a suspicion of some kind you’re hired to come in. What’s the first move? Like where do you start?

Chris 6:49
Getting as robust a understanding of the circumstance is really where we can be most effective.

Dan 6:56
And are you on site interviewing people? Or did they send you a pile of documents? Or like, how do you first get your head around the situation?

Chris 7:03
I think really to kind of break it down day one CEO calls and says there are embezzling? What does the company do? What is the normal course of business? Right? What industry are they in? What kind of contextual things can I learn through my own research before I ever approached these target of an investigation or start reviewing documents?

Chris 7:21
The second is really working internally with our team to brainstorm what types of insights are we trying to glean? What is our objective? What hypothesis are either confirming or refuting? And what financial information or other information do we need for that? And some of that, too, comes from a professional responsibility perspective.

Chris 7:38
Most forensic accountants or certified public accountants, or certified fraud examiner’s, and we hold ourselves out to have a certain professional standard about the work that we do, right? I’m not just going to take Johnny’s answer to be like, No, I’m not embezzling. And then write a report that said, Johnny said, No, we’re done. We’re going to kick the tires a little bit, right, we’re going to do some due diligence into the appropriateness of his conduct and what his response might have been to be able to answer that.

Chris 8:00
Then, to your question about being on site, sometimes you’ll sit across the table from somebody you’ve known has stolen millions of dollars. And you’ll do what’s called an admission seeking interview, right? You gather all your information, the classic cases, you interview, the suspect, the last that you think did it, so you can have as much information as possible, and sit them down and kind of say, alright, explain this to me.

Chris 8:21
I see a check with your name on it. I see your signature on that check. I see it for $5,000. And I see no business reason for that to happen. Why was this check written? And why did you sign it? And that can be a tough answer.

Dan 8:32
And do most people cave in that situation when they realize you’ve got the evidence? Or, or a lot of people still in deny, deny deny mode?

Chris 8:40
Yeah, it depends on the level of sophistication. You know, I’ve sat across from people who will never admit it, even though, you know, we’ve got an email that they sent that said, you know, I’m committing a fraud. Haha, this company is so dumb, right? Dude, you wrote this, you know, 18 months ago, and now you’re telling me it didn’t happen. So there was always gonna be that five or 10% that are denying or think they can get out of it or think they’re smarter than you.

Chris 9:03
But most of these people that admit or were in investigation, sometimes even show a sigh of relief, they say, you know, I’ve been living under this, you know, terrible cloud of stress and deception and lies, and I feel so terrible. I’m glad I got caught, right. And that’s not to minimize the punishment, they may go to jail, they may lose their license or their ability to practice or their job, but they just want to get out from under this huge albatross has been over their lives.

Chris 9:29
So in those interviews, and we don’t have to get into the techniques of it, but it’s really to give them an out to say, Listen, this happens a lot. We understand. Was this a mistake? You know, did you think that this was appropriate? It’s okay, you know, talk to me about what your thinking was. And that often leads to a better resolution for the company too to know where they may have missed on a policy or on a signature on an authorization request. Beyond just someone denying to the nth degree and not wanting to talk to you.

Dan 9:54
What is the interface between what you do and you know, civil or criminal law? Like when someone does confess in a moment like that, do you refer them to the authorities? Or is that outside the scope for what you do? Or how does it work?

Chris 10:09
It goes hand in hand, it’s not 100% in one direction or another. Like I talked about that embezzlement investigation, you know, over a 10 year period for $7 million. We were hired by the legal counsel for the business so their attorneys are considering, are we going to be able to recover any of this money? Short answer is really no, because he spent most of it on travel, right, you’re not going to get a flight back or at a private jet expense back from the private jet company.

Chris 10:32
But they consider and advise the company on what a recovery might be in terms of theft or embezzlement, they talk about the message they want to send to other employees or other businesses out there, that they’re not going to put up with fraud, whether it’s $5, or 500,000. As well, as you know, listen, the cost of litigation and bringing things to court is not zero.

Chris 10:51
So if you’re not going to get a big recovery from someone, and you know, you’re gonna have to pay attorneys a lot of money to to try the case, it might not be a good idea to file criminal or civil charges, because it’s really a zero sum or a cost benefit analysis. It’s not in the company’s favor.

Dan 11:06
And is there a tendency of companies, you know, like with hacks, for instance, a lot of companies won’t disclose hacks, because they’re afraid it’s going to surface their lack of good IT policy. Like, do you sometimes encounter companies that want to sweep fraud under the rug, because they don’t want people to know how bad their controls were?

Chris 11:22
Yeah, and I’ll say that too. One of the areas we see that a lot is a non for profit area, because their business, for lack of a better phrase, is based on reputation. You know, we’re doing good work to meet our mission, whether that’s to serve underprivileged communities, or provide food for those in situational issues or, or house survivors of domestic violence.

Chris 11:42
Being an organization that can’t keep their own shop in order can really hurt grants, donations, things like that. And again, we’re not saying that these companies are purposefully lying to people about what happened. But they’re less likely to report that to the news, or maybe bring a criminal or civil action because some of the reputational harm might weigh into there as well.

Dan 12:03
Look back, what’s the engagement that you’ve felt most emotionally engaged with?

Chris 12:13
So I’ve done some work for attorneys who represent higher education institutions. And it must have been four or five years ago now. One of the attorneys down in the southeast part of the US was representing a day school, a private school for kids in elementary and high school in which the headmaster stole gotta put a number is somewhere in the low seven figures. You know, this is a school where tuition is about 15 $20,000 a year for these kids ended up walking away with more than a million dollars and denied all aspects of the fraud, my God.

Chris 12:46
And that, to me really rang true because it was taking a legitimate service for people of means attempting to better themselves to to learn and grow and walking away from it. Right. This was not taken from a multibillion dollar corporation, it’s a rounding error this close to the school. Oh, wow. So our work was really to understand what they could reclaim from the individual, what they could recover from an insurance policy against the fraud loss, and really try to be as efficient and effective because the school does not have the wherewithal to to have a multi year investigation, right, they’re not gonna be able to pay attorneys and accountants forever.

Chris 13:20
So how do we do this quickly? How do we do it meaningfully? And how do we get to a result that’s going to help these kids recover some of the money they paid for the school that no longer exists? To get them back on their feet and maybe to another school or to another situation? So there’s times that you can get emotionally attached isn’t the right way to say it, but I feel more connected to the work when I can see the obvious good it may do if we get to a good answer.

Dan 13:44
And in a situation like that, like is there any way to claw back some of that money from the person who absconded with it?

Chris 13:50
There is right. That’s why the civil and criminal court system exists. And those examples, I think that he had funded a lifestyle probably with about 50% of it that he took but also improved the home that he lived in. And so that home, could be sold at auction or he could give that up, then those monies could be distributed to some of the victims there and back to the school administration.

Chris 14:10
So that’s one of those cases too where the investigation as a fact witness is really important. John took, you know, $1,000 check from the school, you know, he wrote it to himself from the checking account. That same day, he paid $1,000 to a contractor who was building his new kitchen.

Chris 14:29
One of the things we did in the embezzlement case was look at the payments made to the college funds of the embezzler of his children. And it was very clear that his payroll check donated, you know, $50 or $100, whatever the number was to each of his kids college funds, but then his embezzlement led to 1000s more being put in there.

Chris 14:49
And so we got into a pretty, you know, aggressive discussion with the opposing attorney representing him saying this money was not just you know, kind of his regular salary funding his kids college this was stolen funds. And we had to make a decision about whether to go after, you know, innocent kids college funds to see if we can help reclaim some of the debt that amounted from the embezzlement.

Dan 15:09
Dumb question. But why do you have to establish where people spent the ill gotten gains? Like, isn’t it enough that they just took more than they were supposed to take from the company? Like even if they gave it to charity, it would still be a criminal or civil violation, wouldn’t it?

Chris 15:25
Yeah. I mean, I’ll give you the the worst answer ever. It all depends, right? facts and circumstances based, but in certain cases, and I had a benefit, I guess. And it’s a little bit of a cob benefit of working on the Madoff matter, right. And so Bernie Madoff, wow, famous Ponzi scheme.

Dan 15:40
I mean, that’s got to be like the Everest of forensic accounting, no?

Chris 15:44
I say that. But also, I mean, this is a multibillion dollar case, it’s very hard to find a forensic accountant who didn’t work in some facet of the Madoff case, where there is that right, for the trustee are some of the individuals who lost money or some of the feeder funds or hedge funds that were involved. So 1000s and 1000s of people have worked on the matter generally.

Chris 16:01
And it was one of those interesting issues. I was worked for a firm where an individual was picked as the expert witness over the bankruptcy. And so his job was to talk about the way money was spent, and they had to prove in court that it was a Ponzi scheme. They had to literally write 125 page report that said, these are all the reasons it’s a Ponzi scheme, even though Bernie had already admitted to it. And the reason was the legal mechanics around it being claimed a Ponzi scheme had to be accepted in court and you couldn’t just take the, you know, admission of unknown wire and feet.

Dan 16:41
So as this work changed the way that you see people or see organizations?

Chris 16:48
It’s hard to say right? I am so jaded, right? I think about it the same way you think about like an emergency room doctor, right? An emergency room doctor might look at someone who comes in with, you know, severe shoulder injury, and not even blink.

Chris 17:37
I think that I’ve learned a lot about people and about trust. In that, you know, there’s a lot of statistics out there from the Association of Certified Fraud examiner’s and other organizations that study these things to say that, you know, the most trusted individuals are often the ones who are found to be, you know, taking money in situations where were frauds identified.

Dan 17:56
Oh, God, really, is that true?

Chris 17:58
Well, it’s a debate between controls and oversight, right? If you’ve got a person that you trust, implicitly, you don’t check every little thing they do, until something major happens right? Like that CFO, the CEO trusted him for a dozen years before he was in a position to steal from the company. And then after he started wanting to get out over his skis and live a more lavish lifestyle, you know, that trust trumped oversight in terms of how travel and entertainment expense is being utilized. So those things happen.

Dan 18:24
That’s gotta mess with your mind. I mean, do you have like this loop in your brain now when like, when you start to really trust someone, you’re like, wait a minute, is this the highest risk person in my life?

Chris 18:35
Yeah, for me, right? It’s a personal choice too. Like, you know, my wife and I manage a checkbook like any married couple do and there’s sometimes a raised eyebrow right about a specific expense or something like that. But to me, it’s much more about educating that individual when they call and they go, no, no, no, no way. Sharon could have done this. And you go, Well, you know, I’ve met 11, Sharon’s, in the past 10 years, and they’ve all done it.

Chris 18:56
So let’s go in with open eyes. And think about this from an objective perspective. And let’s check Sharon’s work and make sure she’s signing off and getting appropriate approval and letting you know, when something’s out of whack or on a budget.

Dan 19:09
Is there any way to scope like the incidence of fraud? Like, based on your experience, what’s the likelihood that any company out there is is experiencing something that you could interpret as fraud right now? What would you guess?

Chris 19:24
The answer is yes. So the association Certified Fraud Examiner, as I mentioned a minute ago, they are an international body of anti fraud professionals that both you know certify folks like me as Certified Fraud examiner’s through a test and through training and things like that, as well as conduct studies and solicit responses from Certified Fraud examiner’s and people in the market and they’re running statistic is that top line revenue of a business 5% of that can be attributed to fraud loss.

Dan 19:54
You’re kidding. 5%.

Chris 19:56
Yeah, so if your business makes $10 million, right five percent of that you can, somewhere in those expenses somewhere in the operations of the business or you’re being you’re missing out on 5% of revenue is being siphoned off by fraudulent things.

Chris 20:10
And that’s everything from, you know, people inappropriately recording their time and saying they worked more than they did to, you know, adding an extra travel meal to their expense report, even though they weren’t technically traveling that day, right. So it’s not, you know, the Bernie Madoffs, or the Enron scandals, or 5% of the world, it’s really those kinds of cases that, you know, 5% of revenue is really kind of a benchmark that you can measure yourself against.

Chris 20:32
Now, I work with clients all day that are very adamant that there is no fraud going on, and they’re probably right, to a material degree, especially if it’s a mom and pop business with six people, it’s a lot harder to write to create an avenue for fraud there. Not that it doesn’t happen. But you know, compared to some of the large multinational organizations, there’s people trimming on the edges and coloring outside the lines, you know, pretty regularly, not to a material extent, but but that is happening out there. You know, as we speak, right now, someone is being fraudulent. Out in the world.

Dan 21:03
I was curious, like, how many layers of suspicion do you need in a typical situation? Like if someone hands you customer invoices or receipts or do you take that at face value? Or is there immediately a loop in your head that’s like, I wonder if this is a real invoice or a real receipt? Like, how much verification do you typically have to do?

Chris 21:24
It depends on the circumstance, of course, but you know, I like to say it’s an iterative process. If you give me 11, random invoices from 2022. And they all follow a standard format from a specific business. They all have very detailed amounts and and descriptions on them. And the numbers and dates of them do not lend themselves to any type of manipulation, right?

Chris 21:46
We talked about sequential numbering, if I pick 11 random invoices from business A, and they’re numbered 101 to 112. And they happen throughout the year. My question is, how is this business still open? If you’re the only one that they’re sending invoices to? Right? So if you don’t pick up on anything like that, you’re going to feel differently about that invoice in that business than you are if you see something that looks like a logo that Dan, I don’t know how you are at arts, but maybe you were I could draw on Microsoft Paint, right?

Chris 22:11
That’s going to lead me to make a different conclusion about the value that information or if they’re following a non standard format. If the description lines go from being very detailed to very general, or they shift on the page, right? Can I explain that? Or can I not?

Dan 22:24
I love this, that these are such like great little screens that you’ve picked up over the years.

Chris 22:30
One I’ll talk about a little case we had a couple of years ago where an individual who’s an IT professional at a at a business was using the IT budget to buy himself things, right all kinds of stuff, and convenience stores and Target and Walmart and all those kind of things.

Chris 22:45
But he would go online and what he would do is he would screenshot the line item from an invoice from a computer parts supplier, BestBuy, whomever that said, HDMI cable, you know, one unit, and he would paste that over the real line item that he purchased. The problem was he did that. And he didn’t change anything else about that invoice.

Chris 23:05
So we would get an invoice from Walmart that listed all of these HDMI cords that he had bought, but of the six lines on him, they all had insanely different prices. Like he bought one HDMI cord from Walmart on that day for $640. He bought another one for $6. He bought a third one for $1,400. It’s just like being able to obviously that’s an extreme example.

Chris 23:25
But you know, he was trying to get it approved through the expense system and all the expensive stuff did was look at, you know, is this dollar within our budget, which the answer was unfortunately, yes. And do the descriptions on a spot check match what we think they did, of course. And so that’s a computerized system, it did not go through and evaluate the appropriate pricing of every HDMI cable purchase. You know, we ended up finding out that he was buying himself a lot of clothing and shoes and electronics and all these things. But saying they were all HDMI cords.

Dan 23:50
He had acquired over 780 HDMI cords.

Chris 23:54
For eight and a half million dollars or whatever the number was over the period. It’s just he’s got a whole closet full of very expensive HDMI cable.

Chris 24:00
So your question was, how many layers do you have to go down? It definitely does depend. There’s times where we will specifically disclaim in our reports, we did not validate the veracity of this information. I got a report from the bank that said that they paid $11 on Thursday. I did not drive to the bank and ask them where the $11 was right? I assumed that the bank provided me with legitimate information. They’re a third party, they have no reason to lie to me. We’re going to explain that in our report.

Dan 24:27
Would you recommend this field to a young person?

Chris 24:30
I would. I’ve learned over the years that there are people who are naturally good at a variety of different things. One of my best friends is a healthcare auditor in Pittsburgh, and he loves seeing the same client every year doing very similar work every year, same type of audit work.

Chris 24:48
Not that that’s boring or repetitive in any means, but kind of having those long standing relationships with clients. I have friends who worked as accountants in house and they write the same report every month, every year for a dozen years. That’s not something that.

Dan 25:01
I’m sensing a need for variety in your personality.

Chris 25:04
And that’s where I’m at. I’m one of those people who, you know, I like to tell the story, I was on a huge litigation matter between creator of telecommunication services, right satellites and a federal agency. And I learned more about satellites than probably anybody but Dave Matthews knows about pause for laughter.

Dan 25:21
I love it. Dad jokes are always welcome on the show.

Chris 25:24
You got it. I have not worked on a satellite case since, right. So I can watch a report of what, you know, Elon Musk has put into the sky and know a little bit more about it than I did, you know, 10 years ago. But I’m not going from satellite case to satellite case.

Chris 25:37
And I like getting that view of different industries, different services, different types of circumstance and learning from them. And maybe, you know, filing that away as a memory or as a lesson to learn on a future case. But if I were to be always looking at just one type of issue, I think that I would kind of lose it a little bit. And that’s just my natural preference.

Chris 25:56
So if you’re asking about recommendations, I would ask people to look inside themselves and say, Are you okay with getting yelled at by a different client every week? 52 weeks a year? If your answers close to yes, yeah, maybe, maybe think about it, where if you’d rather be yelled at by one client every year? Maybe you look a little bit more towards something else.

Dan 26:16
So Chris, on the show, we always end with a lightning round of questions for our guests. So let me fire away here. What is a word or phrase that only someone from your profession will be likely to know? And what does it mean?

Chris 26:29
I’m gonna broaden the definition profession. So I’m gonna say those who work in the litigation or fraud investigation space. So attorneys, you’re welcome in as well, the word is C entered. And do you know what C enter is C, enter, no, enter? C enter is the legal term for a fraudulent intent. So C enter is often what you have to prove in a court of law, so that a judge or a jury can determine if this was fraud or not. Right.

Chris 26:55
So writing yourself a $5,000, check by accident, again, we can make that argument as as one does. That’s it. It has happened, I’m sure somewhere, right. Nothing in the world is new. Versus purposefully writing yourself a $5,000 check, to steal from the company to enrich yourself to you know, make the downpayment on your yacht, right that proving that C enter that knowledge of that fraudulent intent has a legal element to it versus negligence, right as another legal concept of maybe not overtly performing an act or omitting an act that creates an issue, but just comes by happenstance, or by you neglecting something.

Dan 26:55
So are our HDMI cable friend buku.See enter.

Chris 27:31
Yes, he was, it was quite clear from the documents that he was maybe a little lazy and copying the same HDMI screenshot over and over again, but did not have much to say about his fraudulent intent after he was approached.

Dan 27:49
All right, question two, who is the most famous forensic accountant whether real or fictional?

Chris 27:56
So the answer is both real and fictional. In the gentleman who got me involved are interested in front of the accounting is a gentleman named Frank Wilson. Dan, do you know who Frank Wilson is?

Dan 28:05
No no. Tell me about Frank.

Chris 28:07
Frank Wilson is one of the folks on Eliot Ness’s team who helped capture famous Al Capone, on tax fraud. So if you remember the movie from the late 80s, The Untouchables starring Glenn Young and Kevin Costner, I saw that movie early in my career. And just the idea that there was this, you know, type of law enforcement service or law enforcement adjacent activity related to accounting really, really got me excited. So I’m sure folks will say.

Dan 28:32
I love that you were fixated on the accountants.

Speaker 1 28:35
There’s a lot of other stuff going on. And then Sean Connery is great. Most people will probably say Ben Affleck’s character in the Accountant is probably more famous now, after that action movie came out a few years ago, but I always go back to Frank Wilson as a as a driving force in my career. Oh,

Dan 28:49
Oh that’s true. The Ben Affleck character was it forensic accountant wasn’t he?

Speaker 1 28:53
Yeah, and that movie is 100% accurate, if you only focus on the scene, where he’s in the conference room, checking the numbers, all the other stuff I have not seen in my career in terms of gun ranges, and, and, and, you know, flying vehicles and everything else going on.

Dan 29:09
Yeah, you all are basically Navy SEALs with calculators, right?

Chris 29:12
Sure, yes. Yeah, that’s right. And sometimes I get tired standing up, but that’s a different story.

Dan 29:17
Okay question three, what phrase or sentence strikes fear in the heart of forensic accountants?

Speaker 1 29:24
Oh, here’s something I should have given you at the beginning of the investigation.

Dan 29:30
Has someone said that to you before?

Speaker 1 29:32
When I hear that from a client, I just know I’m in for a world of hurt, right? There’s some assumption that we missed or some document that that we didn’t know about that maybe we went down path A and we should have gone down path C. Had we known that right? We would have done a lot of things differently. So that’s something where you know all things being equal, we’ll get to the right answer, but that’s one of those where all right, we got to start all over again and kind of reframe what we’re doing.

Dan 29:59
Chris Ekimhoff is a forensic accountant, and co host of the Insecurities podcast, which explores the wild world of securities regulation and enforcement, we’ll put a link to it in the show notes. And I’m a subscriber myself, by the way.

Dan 30:13
I could have talked to Chris for three hours, I’m totally fascinated by what he does. And what I kept thinking about, after we talked was the point he made about how it’s usually the most trusted individuals who are the ones most responsible for fraudulent activity. Not because trusted people are more likely to be criminals, which would be insane. But because trusted people are the only people with the access and the wherewithal to pull off the crimes.

Dan 30:42
And then, because that one trusted person and 100, or 1000, abuses their trust and commits fraud, the rest of us stop getting trusted preemptively. Right. So all of this compliance activity springs up around us the the controls and the oversight and the red tape. And it makes everybody’s life a little bit more frustrating.

Dan 31:05
It’s sort of like how drugstores started locking up the razor blades because they were expensive and easy to steal. And then because one bad apple in 1000, might have tried to steal the razor blades, the other 999 of us have a guaranteed more annoying shopping experience.

Dan 31:23
And I think the same thing is true with financial controls. It’s like a tax we all have to pay because of people like our friend, the HDMI cable bandit. But at least we’ve got people like Chris out there tracking them down one by one. You gotta love a profession where you can use your math skills to fight crime.

Dan 31:42
And folks, that’s what it’s like to be a forensic accountant. If you liked this episode, and you want to do something to support us and more episodes like this, do us a favor. Leave us a review on Apple podcasts or Spotify or wherever you listen. It helps other folks find us. This show was produced by Matt Purdy. I’m Dan Heath, take care.

Lauren Tingle 32:08
I know you’re always looking for unique ways to bring career research and career exploration into our high schoolers worlds. This world of work is so important as we try to prepare our students to be college and career ready.

Lauren Tingle 32:21
So I hope I’m helping you satiate your students curiosity about what jobs could be out there for them by just passing along this free career resource that will help your students learn about one new career at a time. And who knows. I hope maybe you enjoyed the podcast listen as well. I’ll see you next week.

Connect with Lauren:

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