Investigation class takes a unique approach

If you have a knack for numbers and the instincts of a detective, NDSU’s fraud investigation minor may be just the program for you.

Offered by the NDSU Department of Accounting and Information Systems, in collaboration with the Department of Criminal Justice and Department of Anthropology and Sociology, the minor gives students a chance to study the causes, detection, investigation and prevention of fraud. They also learn about law making, criminality and the prosecution of fraud cases.

“Fraud investigation is not accounting. It requires a different mindset and, as instructors, we try very hard to make sure our students understand that,” said James Clifton, professor of accounting practice. “Instead of asking about debits and credits, we ask, ‘What assets or resources does the company have that can be readily converted to cash?’ We then ask how someone would go about stealing those assets and then try to conceal the theft.”

Kristin Hormann, who graduated in December with an accounting degree, took the 410 fraud examination course as an elective, and she was hooked on the topic.

“I enjoyed the class because it took a unique approach,” Hormann said “The course was structured to teach students how fraud is done, since a fraud examiner needs to know how fraud is committed to detect and prevent it.”

Hormann was an audit intern for the Abdo accounting and consulting firm, and the minor was a perfect fit for the job. She plans to continue to focus on nonprofits and forensic accounting.

“From my experience, I can tell the fraud investigation minor will allow me to provide additional expertise for my clients,” said Hormann, who is from Willmar, Minnesota. “Nobody plans for fraud to occur in a company, but if it happens, they will need someone to turn to that will help them through the process of an investigation.”

According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, occupational fraud continues as a major problem. The median loss is $120,000 per case across North America.

That means there are many career opportunities in crime investigation, litigation support or forensic accounting.

“There is a large and growing demand for individuals who have the skillset to detect and prevent fraud,” Clifton said. “Our alumni have told me that their employers appreciate their knowledge of fraud and what to do about detecting it.”

Find your own interest and path to success. Apply to NDSU today.