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College of Business programs prepare students for fraud examination and forensic accounting careers

Don Berecz, senior lecturer in the School of Accountancy and retired FBI agent, explains to students how a lie detector test works. These are some of the skills students gain with the Fraud Examination and Forensic Accounting certificate programs offered in the College of Business.

Students interested in pursuing careers in fraud examination or forensic accounting have the opportunity to hone their skills and be competitive in the workforce thanks to specialty tracks offered through the School of Accountancy in Georgia Southern University’s College of Business.

The four-course Forensic Accounting Certificate and Fraud Examination Certificate programs are available to students pursuing master’s degrees. These certificate programs provide specific training in high-demand areas of accounting and investigation.

“The employment possibilities are endless with this knowledge,” said Don Berecz, senior lecturer in the School of Accountancy and retired FBI agent. “This training prepares students with skills for any kind of employment. Fraud permeates all aspects of society. The [Association of Certified Fraud Examiners] estimates that all organizations lose 5–6 percent of their gross earnings to fraudulent activity due to fraud by employees, managers and executives.”

The Forensic Accounting Certificate program includes courses expert witnessing, cyber forensics, fraudulent financial reporting and forensic accounting capstone. The Fraud Examination Certificate program includes the courses fraud schemes, fraud examination, white collar crime, and forensic interviews and interrogation. Georgia Southern’s program was designed to prepare forensic accounting masters students for careers in public accounting firms and law firms.

Berecz added that students do not necessarily have to go into public accounting or forensic accounting careers to be able to use the Fraud Examination certificate in their areas of study.

“Based on the fraud detection and investigative skills learned in this program, students should be able to spot small frauds in their employment positions before they become larger frauds. When these frauds become large frauds, they involve cash or stolen assets that usually cannot be recovered,” he said. “Students of any major will find employment opportunities in law enforcement, retail management, loss prevention, information security, corporate security, human resources, and hospitality and restaurant management.”

Since the inception of these tracks in 2007, Berecz said 111 students have successfully completed the Forensic Accounting program, with an average of a dozen Master of Accounting students enrolled each year. Some of the program’s alumni have gone on to work for companies like KPMG, SunTrust Bank, Dycom Industries Inc., as well as government agencies such as the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service and police departments, among others.

“Graduates of either certificate program will set themselves apart from other employment candidates,” Berecz said. “Our graduates attain specialized knowledge that makes them appealing to employers because of their ability to identify fraud and/or investigate it.”

The programs at Georgia Southern are also supported by the School of Accountancy’s Forensic Accounting Advisory Board, which is made up of professionals from diverse employment backgrounds who provide guidance of programs, make speaker presentations and offer assistance with internships for students and/or employment opportunities for graduates.

Recently, the School of Accountancy was featured on ForensicsColleges.com for its growing opportunities in its forensic accounting program. Georgia Southern was identified as one of the top programs in the country to prepare students for a career in forensic accounting by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy.

For more information about the Fraud Examination and Forensic Accounting certificate programs, visit GeorgiaSouthern.edu/soa/fraud-forensic-accounting.

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Posted in Graduate, Undergraduate