MBA Economic Crime and Fraud Management

The financial world is no stranger to fraud. For example, in the mid-1800’s two fraudsters literally printed Erie Railroad stock certificates on a printing press in their basement. Today, fraud is much more sophisticated and costly given the internet and global trade. Estimates for annual global losses due to fraud go as high as $190 billion.1

Sometimes, the frauds are outrageous. Brazen businesses have created phantom inventory by stacking empty cardboard boxes in warehouses to fool auditors. Others have overnight delivered inventory from one store location to another so it would be there for the auditors to count the next day.

But most frauds are more subtle. Fraud Magazine notes that many accounting frauds begin as nothing more than aggressive or creative accounting by a CFO or accountant trying to hit a short-term goal.2

Often they feel pressured by the CEO to meet Wall Street estimates. This might involve booking an accounts receivable on a highly unlikely recovery, overstating inventory or ‘mismatching’ around the end of the reporting period. The fraud is usually uncovered when the perpetrator tries to reverse the transaction in the next reporting period to balance things out and some unforeseen event makes that difficult.

The problem is, many stakeholders (shareholders including pension funds, employees and their families, possibly the community) are affected by the purchase of the over-priced stock.

What is an Online MBA in Fraud Management degree?

The online MBA in Fraud Management is a graduate level program designed to teach students how to detect, catch and prevent fraud. The program offers the broader business curriculum of an MBA but a clear specialization in fraud management.

Many MBA programs feature five or six foundation business courses typically including management, accounting, marketing and corporate finance. Then there are offerings for different electives. Programs typically finish with three or four courses related to fraud risk assessment that comprise the concentration.

As an example, Utica College offers an online MBA in Economic Crime and Fraud Management with courses that teach students methods to detect fraud, conduct interviews, utilize interrogation techniques, understand case studies in economic and cybercrimes, and develop counter-fraud technologies.

Their online MBA in Fraud Management can usually be completed in two years as a part-time student so it’s designed for the working professional looking to advance their career.

What Kind of Jobs Can I Get with an online MBA in Fraud Management?

Since risk management is now a key part of corporate strategy, an online MBA in Fraud Management may appeal to a broad range of employers. One in every three organizations reports being a victim of economic crime.3 And that’s just the reported cases.

Fraud Management professionals are also in demand because of Sarbanes Oxley reform legislation in the wake of the many accounting frauds uncovered around the dotcom bubble (WorldCom, Adelphi Communications, etc). One part of the regulation states that a member of the Audit Committee must hold themselves as a ‘financial expert’. The inclusion of a fraud management professional on any Board of Directors immediately bolsters legitimacy. Boards and Audit Committees are beginning to court Certified Fraud Examiners (CFEs) and other fraud examiners. These positions offer attractive compensation for a limited amount of time invested, usually 250 hours per year. Managing the business risk of fraud is becoming compulsory for publicly traded companies.

Typical employers for graduates of online MBA in Fraud Management are government agencies, such as the IRS, SEC and the FBI. When joining a government agency, a Master’s degree will stand out and could put you in line for a management position. Many Fraud Management MBA graduates land jobs in the public sector as as fraud examiners, investigators, government accountants and forensic accountants.

Private sector employers include Big 4 accounting firms, auditing firms, banks and insurance companies where positions include risk manager, auditor and compliance professional. An MBA could put you on track for higher-level positions including Audit Director, Chief Risk Officer and Compliance Director.

There is also a niche for financial analysts with fraud detection skills at certain hedge funds that speculate on the downside of stocks through short-selling. Many of these are long-short funds that buy securities they feel are undervalued while shorting overvalued or suspect companies to reduce the net risk on their book. One of the most famous accounting frauds in history, Enron, was successfully detected as a fraud by a few (Jim Chanos at the fund ‘Kynikos’ for example) because of the firm’s aggressive accounting style. Chanos has discussed Enron on the Charlie Rose Show and in witness testimonies to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.4

How do I Choose the Right Online MBA in Fraud Management program?

With more choices than ever for online MBA programs, it’s important to consider some that stand out in the areas they teach. Some schools offer an MBA in Fraud Management and also a Master’s degree in other, fraud related fields. The faculty’s work experience in the field they’re teaching is also important.  Other factors to consider include the school’s reputation, networking, flexibility and career planning.

If possible, find MBA programs that also prepare students for specific designations, certifications and exams. It seems like the amount of certification are endless but that is a trend that isn’t going away anytime soon. In fraud management, the most prestigious designation is Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE). If you’re pursuing a job in fraud detection, this designation is very important. Payscale reported the median salary for CFEs with a Master’s degree in Economic Crimes and Fraud Management is $76,000.5

You also want to find a program that stresses the ethics side of fraud management. When conducting fraud investigations, you must obviously obey applicable law when conducting due diligence. But many investigation tactics straddle the line between unethical and illegal. Social media has brought an enormous amount of opportunity for investigators but accessing some of this data can be unethical and even illegal. During investigations, fraud examiners need to access bank records, sometimes procuring them from third-parties. This might violate laws if done improperly. There have been headline grabbing stories of federal investigators being sued over improper investigative techniques including making fake profile pages on social media to impersonate others.6 You certainly don’t want to catch a criminal and then get sued for improper tactics.

Fraud examiners are a different breed, getting satisfaction in deterring fraud, protecting the property of others and catching fraudsters. Prosecuting crimes, especially white collar, increasingly make headlines. The more public information is available through the advent of technology the more you can expect to encounter fraudsters, and dedicated professionals to stop them.


Online MBA in Fraud Management
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Online MBA in Fraud Management
The online MBA in Fraud Management is a graduate level program designed to teach students how to detect, catch and prevent fraud.
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