edited by Joseph T. Wells, CPA, CFE
John Wiley and Sons Inc., 2009, 424 pp.
Writing about accounting—or computers, for that matter—often can seem clinical to the point of disembodiment. The two together could be, well, a bit dry. Joe Wells can be counted on for a good tale or two of people who are coldly calculating in the villainous sense of the term, revealing the all-toohuman motivations of greed and mendacity. He has collected 42 such tales here, case studies by members of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners that Wells founded and chairs. Each is a dramatic narrative illustrating thefts and deceptions by e-mail, online auctions, computer security breaches, counterfeiting and other exploits.
As Wells says in an introduction, detecting and preventing computer fraud is particularly important these days, given the fact that “in a worst-case scenario, hackers and cyberthieves could cripple the global economy.” In fact, major national newspapers have devoted a good deal of coverage recently to how cloak and dagger has given way to IP masking and keyloggers. Spies or saboteurs hacking into military sites or systems controlling the power grid and other critical infrastructure pose a threat of unimaginable proportions. And, as Wells said, prevention is paramount because in most cases computer fraudsters escape prosecution.
Each case includes a “lessons learned” and “recommendations to prevent future occurrences” summary. Most of these cases illustrate not so much how to build a better firewall as its limitations in the face of human error and infamy.
By JofA Senior Editor Paul Bonner