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Forensic CPA calls certification handy in current economy

By Staff | Jun 16, 2009

In unsteady economic times, experts estimate that there will be more and more fraud in accounting practices with thefts at businesses and in divorce cases. Occupational fraud cases in U.S. organizations are estimated at $994 billion annually.
Local resident Philip C. Bennett has recently studied and been certified as a forensic CPA, something akin to the TV “CSI” characters who hunt out their own clues with criminals.
Forensic accountants search for hidden assets or missing funds. They may also testify in court as expert witnesses. A prime example of the work — forensic accountants were called in to trace money in the Bernie Madoff case.
“I’ve been a CPA since 1974, and had a lot of experience in auditing and financial matters,” said Bennett. “I chose to get into forensic accounting because I could see how that experience could help families in these economic times.”
That includes protecting small businesses.
“Forensic accounting is researching and documenting activity for an ultimate presentation in a courtroom or a legal proceeding,” he said. “That could be beneficial in a divorce situation or to small businesses who are experiencing an occupational fraud. What most accountants do is look at numbers. What I do is look behind the numbers and see what they really are.”
Bennett spent the last six months getting the additional credentials and became a certified fraud examiner.
“I think everyone realizes in these economic times that occupational fraud is a big issue,” he said. “In fact, the Wall Street Journal reported small businesses are more susceptible today.”
Bennett said the work is interesting.
“It can also be rewarding and frustrating,” he said. “It’s difficult to weed out fraudulent activity because it is so well hidden often.”
Bennett will be the sole practitioner in a Fort Myers-based office. He has been the owner of a multi-office business for more than 25 years and wanted to be out on his own.
Contact Philip C. Bennett at 565-2140.