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Saint Xavier First in Country to Offer Fraud Examination MBA

Demand for CFEs outpacing education programs nationally

Chicago (Jan. 18, 2005) – Today’s companies lose nearly $660 billion a year in revenue to fraud, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. And that’s only the theft companies know about. As the Enron and WorldCom collapses have shown, fraud can hurt not only their employees, but the public as well.

The need for fraud examiners is rapidly growing, due largely to new federal laws the last couple of years requiring auditors to take additional steps to identify fraud as well as new accounting standards from the American Institute of CPAs. Membership at the ACFE, for instance, grew from 25,000 in 2002 to 31,500 in 2004, said ACFE Higher Education Coordinator Tony Rolston.
Among other initiatives, the AICPA has teamed up with the ACFE to encourage colleges and universities to develop fraud examination programs.

“The ACFE of course would like to see the area of fraud examination expand into its own certificate programs at universities that now have the basic level course as part of the curriculum. Making students aware of the need for fraud examiners and their role as “corporate cops” is one of the goals of having schools implement fraud examination courses,” Rolston said.  

In response, the Graham School of Management at Saint Xavier University will expand its fraud examination program into a new MBA program next fall. The MBA program will be the first in the country entirely devoted to fraud examination and management, said William Kresse, assistant professor of the Graham School.

“Fraud detection and deterrence used to be handled by two disparate groups, business people who generally knew little about investigating fraud, and law enforcement investigators who generally knew little about business,” Kresse said. “The demand for sound, professional fraud examination is growing.”

Most schools, Rolston said, offer only a fraud examination course as a single elective, usually at the undergraduate level. Major obstacles in developing a program or additional courses are usually limited resources or a lack of university approval, Rolston added. Under its Higher Education Initiative, through which the ACFE has developed curriculum dedicated to fraud examination and management, 210 schools have implemented the program to some degree in the last three years.

The Graham School has offered financial fraud examination the last two years as part of its course offerings to the Chicago Police Department under a partnership between the city and the university, but increased interest in the profession has prompted an expansion of the program to admit other MBA students.

Nearly 40 percent of the top 100 accounting firms, Kresse noted, are expanding their fraud services. Industries such as insurance brokers, health care, financial services and law enforcement are also hiring more fraud examiners.

The Graham School program will consist of four courses including fraud examination: identity theft and computer related fraud, ethical issues in financial fraud examination and management, and financial statement fraud.

John Eber, dean of the Graham School, noted that completion of the program will also qualify MBA students with the appropriate undergraduate accounting courses to test for CPA certification in addition to fraud examination certification.

“Fraud examination has become a profession in to itself,” Eber said. “We are looking at it as more than just an accounting program.”

Applications are now being accepted for the financial fraud examination and management program for the fall, 2005, semester. Applications can be found online at graduateadmission@sxu.edu or by calling (773) 298-3053.