Investigating careers in accounting

  • Student working with special equipment

    Practicing surveillance

    Students honed their surveillance skills using special equipment.

  • Students collaborating

    Gathering evidence

    Working in groups, student participants gathered and analyzed evidence.

  • Student group in a classroom

    Compiling data

    The investigations continued as students analyzed their findings.

In recent years, individuals with a background in forensic accounting have been in demand. Many companies and institutions are looking for professionals with both the accounting and investigative skills to help detect and prevent fraudulent activity. In March, WMU accountancy students had the opportunity to learn about the field firsthand when they participated in the Adrian Project.

The Adrian Project is an interactive experience in forensic accounting where students work together to solve hypothetical financial crimes. The hypothetical crimes might include business owners skimming funds from their company, drug trafficking, a multi-filer tax scheme, and many other possible scenarios that special agents in fraud accounting encounter. During the exercises, each student works with an experienced IRS special agent or retiree who coaches and provides learning points, but it is up to the students to uncover the fraud based on their knowledge and skill sets in the discipline.

“We were able to take some of the concepts that we learned in class and see how they tie to real-life situations,” says Daniel Lopez. “The day was filled with excitement and learning opportunities. It was exciting to work together in a group to solve the crimes and see how scenarios like this happen daily in the real world.”

The exercises took students all over the WMU campus and throughout the business college, where they gathered data and evidence by rummaging through pre-set trash receptacles, meeting with anonymous informants and WMU campus safety,  and interviewing potential witnesses. They also had a chance to roleplay arresting the suspect at the end of the event, using real law enforcement equipment.

“Besides being a fun event, it was beneficial to participate in a mock forensic accounting case,” says Kayla Beiby. “The project gave us the chance to learn more about another side of accounting and gave us a behind-the-scenes look at a career opportunity many of us were unaware of previously.”

“We are pleased that our students had the opportunity to participate in this exercise,” says Dr. Donald Gribbin, chair of the Department of Accountancy. “This gives them a wider lens through which to view professions in accountancy while gaining hands-on experience with seasoned professionals.”