Forensic Accountants and CSI??? Most people have watched the television program “CSI” and been fascinated by the crime scene forensic investigators analyzing little tiny fragments of material to solve a case. This may have introduced you to the word “forensic” but how does that go with “accounting.” The two couldn’t seem more unrelated!
- Examining Financials in Great Detail
Well, guess what… forensic accounting is very similar and accurately named. Forensic accountants (most times “CPA’s”) follow the financial trails of people, investigating the smallest transactions and behaviors to solve the crime or provide answers to financial puzzles. In short, Forensic Accounting provides an accounting analysis for the court system which may form the basis for discussion or debate about legal issues and ultimately lead to dispute resolution or a favorable judgment for one party or the other. Either way, the goal of Forensic Accounting is to uncover the truth about financial information which is missing or unclear.
How do we do it? Forensic Accountants utilize their knowledge of accounting, auditing, and investigative skills to conduct a financial investigation. We are trained to look beyond the numbers and see the true parties and picture behind the transaction or recorded information. Our indepth knowledge of how transactions are made, recorded, when, how, and by whom, are all utilized. Sometimes certain repetitive transactions provide clues. Sometimes, the dollar amounts indicate something of significance. Tracking checks, endorsements, bank statements, deposit slips, postage marks, handwriting, dates of transactions, and even tiny note scribbles will yield the most telling data.
Once the Forensic Accountant has conducted their investigation, gathered and analyzed the evidence, and reached a conclusion, the lawyers and parties can proceed with their cases. Often the Forensic Accountant will have to summarize and present complex financial information in a format understandable by the average person or juror. This requires simplifying the information and supporting it with data, charts, graphs, exhibits, or written conclusions. Then the Forensic Accountant may be called to testify in court as an expert witness or participate in court ordered mediations.
- Client Meeting with Forensic CPA
Who hires Forensic Accountants? Lawyers, insurance companies, banks, police forces, government agencies, other organizations, or just individuals needs financial answers may hire Forensic Accountants. People involved in Probate disputes, couples divorcing, companies missing money or trying to decipher missing financials may also hire Forensic Accountants.
There are a multitude of ways which Forensic Accountants may assist the public. Now that you know some of those ways, don’t hesitate to call one if you think you may be missing money, assets are being hidden, or financial statements are gone.