A forensic accountant is a type of accountant who specializes in both investigative and litigation accounting. To interpret financial evidence, forensic accountants typically use both accounting and investigative skills, and they are frequently called upon to analyze and present this evidence to others in a clear manner. They may be called upon as expert witnesses in court or to provide documented proof of financial wrongdoings, for example. In many different industries, a forensic accountant can become involved in a wide range of investigations. They can work for private companies like banks or insurance companies, or for public organizations like government agencies or police departments.
Litigation support and investigative accounting are the two main areas of forensic accounting. Litigation support is a type of professional assistance provided to non-lawyers during the civil trial litigation process. In cases involving breach of contract, a forensic accountant providing this type of assistance would typically assist in determining economic damages. Criminal matters are frequently investigated in the field of investigative accounting. In cases of employee theft or securities fraud, for example, a forensic accountant may be called in to examine previous accounting records or deeds.
A forensic accountant might be hired to help with divorce cases, business fraud cases, or even capital crimes cases. In the event of a divorce, they may assist in locating and valuing the couple’s assets so that the finances can be divided fairly. Accountants may be able to assist in the tracking down and recovery of missing funds in cases of business fraud. They may assist police in investigating financial evidence to uncover criminal motive or track down a wanted fugitive in serious capital cases such as homicide.
Forensic accounting has been used in a number of well-known cases around the world. Al Capone, the notorious American gangster, was apprehended and successfully prosecuted in 1931 thanks to the help of a forensic accountant who was able to uncover his tax crimes. In another case, it took 14 years for accountants to solve the financial puzzle in the billion-dollar embezzlement case of European publisher Robert Maxwell in 1991. In addition, following the September 11 terrorist attack on the United States in 2001, the CIA and FBI hired forensic accountants to track terrorist movement around the world. These accountants are frequently able to track a criminal’s financial trail, which can lead to an arrest.
A bachelor’s degree in general accounting and certification as a Certified Public Accountant are typically required for a career in forensic accounting. The job usually necessitates both accounting and legal knowledge. These characteristics, as well as strong communication skills, perseverance, and meticulous attention to detail, are usually required for a position in forensic accounting. Obtaining certification as a Certified Fraud Examiner can also be beneficial. Forensic accountants typically enjoy solving complex numerical puzzles and are also skilled researchers.