The most famous forensic accounting case is the conviction of Al Capone. Al Capone known as Scarface was a mobster in the 1920’s. He was involved in many illicit activities such as running brothels, speakeasies, nightclubs, distilleries etc. Although federal agents were hot on his tail for crimes committed it actually took forensic accountants to bring him down by proving tax evasion.
IRS agents made a solid case against Capone, proving that he had not paid tax on his ill-gotten gains. This conviction took over two years of gaining evidence by the Special intelligence Unit of the Treasury Department who were able to prove that tax had not been paid, this was partly done by showing that tax had not been paid on the vast sums of money he was spending.
O J Simpson pleaded poverty at his civil trial but forensic accountants were able to determine that he was worth more than $33 million. Even though Simpson was declared innocent at his criminal trial he tried to conceal his wealth. Due to forensic accountants uncovering the money he had hidden away a $33million settlement was won for the plaintiffs.
White collar crime is often regarded as an invisible crime but it can greatly affect the economy. Crimes such as fraud, computer scams and terrorist funding are types of crimes a forensic accountant may investigate. Financial crimes can be very complex and long drawn out cases, the forensic accountant needs to build up a solid case against the perpetrator of the crime; this can involve untangling the web of where assets have been concealed.
A forensic accountant is not only an investigator, but they can also be an auditor and an attorney. The job involves attention to detail, the ability to identify discrepancies, excellent record keeping skills and an ability to predict the criminal mind. Forensic accountants need to follow clues and leads, in the Capone case they managed to track down the identity of the person who made key notations in books with regards to receipts.
Excellent communication skills are also required as it may be that testimonials from key players will be needed. Forensic accounting criminal cases can take years to complete but the resulting conviction helps instil public confidence.