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Accounting Fraud and Computer Crimes Create Need For Qualified Investigators

An epidemic of white-collar financial crime has resulted in the development of specialized education programs focused on economic crime investigation and fraud management. These college-level degree programs attract students who are interested in law enforcement and are attracted by the very unique nature of these types of crimes and the special investigative techniques required to solve them.

There seems to be no end to the greed in the hearts of some professional business people. It isn’t enough to have fancy cars, vacation homes and other lavish perks of the highly successful. Many selfish individuals have decided to play a risky game of “milk-the-company-for-all-it’s-worth” to fuel an unhealthy appetite to acquire more “things” for no other reason than to have them. As a result, books are cooked, balance sheets become unbalanced and finally, as in the case of Enron, there is nothing left to share with the shareholders.

Economic crime is a broad category encompassing a variety of offenses all of which are focused on bilking a private company, government agency or other professional institution out of their financial resources. Individuals at any level of an organization including, as we have seen in recent years, the most senior management, may perpetrate these crimes. And the methods that they use may be highly sophisticated including manipulating computer systems or fudging accounting records.

A fraud investigator must be highly educated and well versed in the financial and technological systems and practices that may have been altered or doctored in some way. Terms like “computer forensics and “accounting forensics” have entered the lexicon of crime investigators as they begin probing a crime scene that does not contain blood evidence, signs of violence or even an obvious victim. But these are certainly not victimless crimes.

Hundreds of major corporations, government institutions and law enforcement agencies are staffing up with economic crime specialists, fraud investigators and fraud management specialists. The need for qualified investigators has prompted colleges to develop specialized curricula devoted to the study of economic crime prevention. Some schools feature Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree programs in Economic Crime. The courses are usually instructed by faculty members experienced in economic crime investigation and computer crime control. Right now, more than 90% of their Bachelor’s in Economic Crime Investigation graduates are working in professional positions relevant to their career interests.

Graduates with these unique, highly specialized degrees are in great demand. A number of colleges are now making these programs available for online study. That means that, no matter what your current commitments or time constraints, these very attractive and potentially lucrative and rewarding degree programs are available to almost anyone. Who knows, at some point in the not-too-distant future you may be instrumental in finding, apprehending and convicting economic criminals that are stealing from us all.

Ministry Tips: Playing the Game and Using the Gifts

As someone who has a background in Christian Counseling people fascinate me so I find myself “probing” trying to go just that little bit deeper. It doesn’t work with my teenage son who often replies with simple grunts and shoulder shrugs.

I try to understand that there may not be a lot of communication, and I need to go about it in a very delicate way, trying to talk about things he likes to talk about or engaging in activities that can be done “side by side”. A bit like parallel play for toddlers. One activity is playing computer games while my son plays x-box games and responding with a few grunts of my own. This post isn’t about parenting a teenager but a life lesson about ministry that I thought about while playing Lara Croft, The Legend, on the computer tonight.In preparing to play this game I followed all the directions:

  • Installed the CD
  • Opened the game guide
  • Read instructions on keys and controls
  • Discovered what keys to press to shoot the enemy, etc.
  • Kept the manual right beside me as I started to play

I found myself struggling to make it through one area – I was being shot and grenades were coming at me from rooftops and doorways. Between turning the pages, pausing the game, fingers stumbling to find the right keys and pressing wrong controls I became frustrated. To make matters worse, every time I “died” the game reverted back to the last official “checkpoint”. I was getting fed up with repeating the same maneuvers and mistakes over and over again.

At one point my son took pity and within 2 minutes the scene was cleared of all dangers and pitfalls – every enemy disposed of. His fingers nimbly skimmed keys making “Lara” move swiftly, firmly and with consummate skill. Grinning broadly at my compliments he returned to his game while I decided to go make supper.

I began to think how like ministry this is. We think we are prepared and have everything ready – we have the “how to manual”. Yet putting it into practice is not as easy. It is like this computer game, we find ourselves stumbling and fumbling. We begin to feel that we just cannot do this – it is too hard.

Sometimes God requires that we repeat certain steps – learning from our failures. Then there are times we need to ask for help from those that have their skills built up from use. They can steer us through the pitfalls and explain what may have gone wrong and give tips on how to hone our skill. It is also good to step back and evaluate where you are doing well, what needs further work and how can it be done differently.

Don’t let despair settle in as we look at others thinking we can never do that. God may not want us to do what someone else does – but He does require that we step out in what He want us to do. “Lara” faced many enemies and obstacles in this game and so will we – but we keep applying principles that we have learned from God’s manual. If we fail, we get up and try again. God gives each of us different gifts but He also requires that we apply ourselves in growing and honing what He has given. This is done by “playing the game” – by living it out.

I went back to try the game a bit later – I chuckled when the game was loading as it showed the percentage of the game that I had completed successfully – 8%. I have a long way to go but I am applying myself to learn by doing. How about you?

Computer Games and Hollywood Movies

It is amazing how much computer games influence our society. It’s often said that art mimics life. This is true in many regards, but sometimes life mimics art. Consider many of the science fiction type movies that have a common theme, and a common foundation of the computer game phenomena. Computer games have obviously only been around since such electronic devices have been available. It’s still a rather new industry, and just think, 30 years ago people didn’t have personal computers, therefore they didn’t play games on those computers. See my point?

The other day, I went to see the movie “Battleship” and the movie had some great special effects, and some of the futuristic technology war game computational radar screens, which looked very much like the electronic version of the family game “Battleship” and so you see computer games in Hollywood movies also have quite a bit in common along the lines of their foundation. Screenplay writers often weave into their storyline such gaming technologies, albeit taken to the next level. It is my contention that we should expect this trend to continue are off into the future, if not motivate humans to create that future.

Some say that computer games are a conspiracy theory to get young kids interested in fighting wars electronically, controlling mechanical weapons and combat equipment far away. It stands to reason that in the future these skills will be needed, and those kids that played video games all of their lives will most likely be the ones at the controls of our future fighter planes, stealth bombers, and unmanned ground vehicles. Today your kids might be playing the video game, tomorrow they might be working for the Department of Defense defending this great nation.

Without getting into the heart of that debate over the morality of such issues, you can see that the Hollywood script writers do indeed believe that this will be our potential eventuality in the future, and they are duly writing those scenarios into the movies we are watching today. We all know that the science fiction of today will become the science fact of tomorrow. Perhaps a lot of that is occurring in the entertainment world, as it is being introduced to our society and civilization in this way.

Now then, I would like you to stop and think for a moment how many Hollywood movies that you’ve seen in the last few years that have a computer gaming theme. I think when you do that, you will see exactly what I’m talking about. In fact, if you want to help jog your memory, go onto Google or Yahoo and search “Hollywood science fiction movies with computer games,” and you’ll be surprised how many movies pop up, and when you watch some of those trailers you will see just what I’m talking about. Please consider all this and think on it.