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Website of the month: financial fraud law.

The Financial Fraud Law website, at www.fmancialfraudlaw.com, is a useful destination for current events and resources relating to financial fraud issues. Because it is a commercial web-site supported by a financial services industry publisher, some of the materials can only be accessed by paid subscribers. Public users, however, will find the site's free resources interesting, up to date, and worthwhile.

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The homepage is organized around the site's main resources. Public users can access certain articles and a law blog; subscribers can access articles and reports prepared by the website's board of expert contributors. The public access law blog and articles are highlighted on the home-page, and stories are marked as most recent and most read, as well as marked with popular tags. General users can also view brief abstracts of the subscriber materials and access a complete sample issue of the Financial Fraud Law Report.

Free Resources

The law blog offers about four new articles per day on current events in the financial fraud arena, dating back to June 2009. Some of these blog articles offer summaries of subscriber-only reports. The articles can be scanned by date or by an index of 60 keyword tags, such as accounting fraud, embezzlement, financial regulatory reform, money laundering, SEC, and tax fraud. Readers may want to check out the Top 10 category, which links to the site's interesting and probably controversial list of the most notable 10 people in financial fraud law in 2010.

The financial fraud tag contains more than 200 entries, such as "CFO and Son Linked to Ponzi Scheme Plead Guilty," which covers the activities of father-and son accountants in defrauding investors in a fictitious wholesale grocery distribution business. One report by a mobile communications industry group indicates that 70% of mobile phone spam is financial fraud and categorizes spam attacks as phishing, social engineering, or premium rate fraud. A recent posting summarizes five key factors in the 2008 financial and economic crisis, such as widespread failures in financial regulation and a breakdown in corporate governance.

Tax fraud is another topic covered extensively on the blog, with over 70 articles. For example, "'Dirty Dozen' Tax Scams of 2011" reports on the top offenses identified by the IRS, including offshore accounts, identity theft, tax preparer fraud, and false tax return filings. In addition, it contains contact information for the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit. Another article reports on the arrest of five tax preparers in New York for filing false tax returns, as the result of investigations and undercover work by the Nassau County District Attorney's office and the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. "DOJ Aims at Fraudulent Claims for the First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit" covers 19 specific cases in which tax preparers filed false claims for the credit, with one preparer filing as many as 180 fraudulent returns.

An excellent collection of two dozen financial fraud-related websites can be found on the "resources for subscribers" page, which public users may miss. The links include such sites as the Center for Internet Security, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, and the National Security Agency. The Financial Fraud Law "resources" page also connects directly to specific information, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) "Financial Crimes Report to the Public" and the U.S. Department of the Treasury's money counterfeiting webpage. The Securities Class Action Clearinghouse website provides information on federal class action securities fraud litigation.

CPAs may be interested in a link to a PDF version of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Identity Theft Form, which can be used to report identity theft to law enforcement and credit reporting agencies. Users can download the Office of Thrift Supervision's brochures on consumer issues, such as foreclosure rescue scams, phishing scams, and filing a complaint. The Crimes of Persuasion website covers telemarketing, investment, consumer, and economic fraud.

Although the full articles in the Financial Fraud Law Report are limited to subscribers, the general public can view brief abstracts that date back to June 2009. A sample newsletter is available for free on the subscription sign-up page; 'this "newsletter" is actually a complete edition of the Financial Fraud Law Report, a publication that is well written, readable, and easy to understand. Articles generally range from five to 10 pages in length. At the time of this review, the 100-page September 2010 issue was offered; it provided several articles on the background, implications, and applications of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, which accountants in the financial services industry should find particularly interesting.

Several other articles from the September 2010 issue may attract the attention of accountants. For example, "Private Commercial Bribery: the Next Wave of Anti-Corruption Enforcement?" addresses international activities in curtailing and punishing commercial bribery, including the accounting rules in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Another article discusses the Supreme Court's ruling on the constitutionality of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCA0B) and the absence of any noticeable effect after the Court made the decision. "The Duty to Update Forward-Looking Statements: A Cautionary Tale Emerges from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals" provides practical advice on how to reduce potential detrimental issues in forward-looking statements. The final article summarizes the legal results of a suit by hedge fund partners against PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

Subscriber Resources

CPAs who do not specialize in fraud will probably find the free resources sufficient for staying informed on current events in the financial fraud arena. While general users can review brief abstracts of subscription materials, paid subscribers have full access to the financial fraud library of articles and reports. There are numerous articles on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, as well as other international issues. Examples of resources that may be of interest to accountants include reports on why audits fail to uncover financial fraud and on the PCAOB's new standards concerning auditor performance of risk assessments and fraud detection.

Susan B. Anders, PhD, CPA, is a professor of accounting at St. Bonaventure University, St. Bonaventure, N.Y.
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Title Annotation:what to bookmark
Author:Anders, Susan B.
Publication:The CPA Journal
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2011
Words:1002
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