Alternate Titles: Accountant Forensic Examiner, Investigative Accountant, Forensic Accountant
Forensic Accountants work for accounting firms or independently as freelance consultants. They investigate incidents of suspected financial misconduct or white-collar crime, and help prepare evidence that may be used in civil or criminal trials, utilizing auditing and accounting investigative skills. In a nutshell they investigate financial misconduct by inspecting records, collecting evidence, and interviewing; may act as expert witness in civil and criminal litigation.
Forensic accounting is often referred to as “investigative accounting.” The term forensic refers to legal proceedings or argumentation presented in a court of law. Forensic Accountants are trained to analyze and verify financial records. They prepare reports that may be used in evidence at a trial, and may be called as expert witnesses, an independent authority, to testify at a trial.
Forensic Accountants analyze, interpret, and summarize complex financial statements and business-related issues in a manner which is both understandable and properly supported by evidence. Accountants coordinate fraud investigations with outside investigators, attorneys, and criminal prosecutors. They review suspect files referred by insurance underwriters and report cases of suspected insurance fraud to government agencies and the courts. If a company files an insurance claim after suffering a fire, the insurance company may hire a Forensic Accountant to verify that a company’s reported loss was as great as the amount claimed.
Besides working on business-related investigations, Forensic Accountants often work on criminal cases. They may be retained by the United States District Attorney’s Office, the courts, or regional and local police forces.
Forensic Accountants work in an office setting, using computers and telephones. Some travel is required, usually to gather information and present evidence at trials. Forensic Accountants work long hours under tight schedules, especially on litigation about to go to trial. This can be a good career choice if you are analytical, can work under deadline pressure, and have good problem-solving ability.