W. Valentine Douglas, who currently works as a Senior Forensic Accountant at the New York State Office of Inspector General, spoke with ZFAA on April 19, 2018. He was very articulate, well-informed, and inspiring.
He shared with us the definition of Forensic Accounting, stating that Forensic Accounting involves utilizing accounting skills to investigate financial crimes and preparing the findings for use in legal proceedings. He taught us the history of the field and explained the origin of the phrase “Forensic Accounting.” He emphasized the name of first Forensic Accountant in the US: T-men. Additionally, he spoke about some notable cases with subjects such as Al Capone, Charlie Chaplin, Ringling Brothers, William Fox, and Rubel Coal And Ice Corporation. We found these cases very interesting and insightful.
Furthermore, Valentine tied his knowledge of Forensic Accounting back to his experiences in White Collar Crime, frauds involved public corruption, healthcare, contract, public assistance and housing, labor, social services, education, and inspection services. Since the room was full of aspiring Forensic Accountants, he also shared with us the skill sets we would need to thrive in the field, which include but are not limited to: investigative, accounting, analytic/logical, physiological, communication, organizational, and legal. To wrap up the conversation, we discussed the future of Forensic Accounting. “Crimes are human behaviors that can only be solved by humans,” he quoted. Valentine believes that artificial intelligence (AI) cannot replace humans when it comes to solving problems in this area, but rather, AI can help indicate and point out the problems that need to be resolved.
In the end, we had the opportunity to ask questions. From his answers, in conjunction with his knowledge and experience, he shared during the main part of the event, there is no doubt that the students walked away with valuable insights that would help with their future work in Forensic Accounting.
by Grace Zhang, edited by Crystal Lam, Ginny Gao