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Luise Odenheimer, CFE, CICA
Seminole Tribe of Florida
Take it from Luise Odenheimer, CFE, CICA: fraud is everywhere – in all industries, types of government and economic conditions. She had her first experience when auditing for her previous employer, a movie theater. After her first taste of fraud-fighting satisfaction, she decided to beef up her anti-fraud knowledge should the opportunity to investigate a fraud ever come up again. It did, and she was ready. She earned her CFE credential in June 2006 and has been vigilantly aiding her employers in the prevention and detection of fraud ever since. Today, she fights fraud in the gaming industry for the Seminole Tribe of Florida – eager to learn new laws and policies, and dedicated to her chosen path as a fraud examiner and auditor.
You work on a reservation; are all the rules and laws the same? If not, what are some differences that specifically apply to you as an auditor and as a fraud examiner?
Working for a tribe is somewhat different than working in the public sector. For one, yes, the rules and laws do differ slightly. The Minimum Internal Control Standards are set by the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) of which I was not at all familiar [when I first started]. What I previously understood as a federal or Florida state "standard" may really be a "best practice" for the tribe. However, as a fraud examiner, I tackle each audit with the idea that fraudulent activity may be taking place in the area under review. If the opportunity is there, and pressures exist, and an employee rationalizes his or her activity, then I should be exercising my duties as a fraud examiner.
Do you enjoy working in the gaming industry as an auditor? What are some of your biggest challenges?
I love working in the gaming industry. I was taught at a very young age that if you work in the field/industry that you enjoy, then you will be going to work happy. My biggest challenge working in gaming is that the industry is highly regulated. I have only been a part of the gaming industry for two years. I was quickly exposed to the vast number of the gaming industry's banking and tribal laws, and I am still in the learning stages of my career.
What first interested you about the ACFE and caused you to seek the CFE credential?
I had been exposed to the fundamentals of detecting fraud while at my previous job. However, my skill set was limited to the industry that I was working in (at that time, movie theater entertainment). I needed to polish my fraud skills and network with those working in a similar industry (movie theater chains) and/or a similar profession (internal audit and fraud investigations). I enrolled in the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners and learned about the certification program. I was certain that studying for certification would fill in the gaps where my fraud knowledge was weak, meanwhile [allowing me to continue] working toward obtaining the prestigious credential that could further my career and solidify my fraud detection credibility.
Please describe your most memorable case and its resolution.
My most memorable fraud case was one that developed after one of my very first audit assignments as an internal auditor. It was a routine operational audit at a Miami movie theater location for the company I was working for. I stumbled across some ticket sale figures that just didn't align with the theater's history and the current market's ticket sales average. This anomaly warranted further review, which I immediately delved into. Through my investigation, I discovered that a theater manager was selling tickets at a discounted face value, but charging patrons the full amount. The per-ticket misappropriation was only about $2. However, through my investigation, I realized that the manager was defrauding guests for several summer months when movie theater attendance and film grosses are at their highest. The actual fraud amount was estimated in the thousands of dollars.
How important is networking to you as an anti-fraud professional?
Networking is key. It allows you to share experiences, both good and bad, with other anti-fraud professionals. Networking allows you to provide others with tips on conducting an investigation or just running a situation by someone. They may have already conducted an investigation relevant to your current case and they may be willing to help you. Most people are willing to share their successes and failures. Without networking skills, you can add many hours to your investigation. Knowing that you can pick up your phone and reach out to someone is all a part of the game.
What advice would you give to someone just starting their career as a CFE?
My advice to those starting their career as a CFE is to have a plan. Educate yourself with book knowledge, but also get that good mix of practical business experience in there. It isn't all about the books. True professionalism of a CFE comes from being able to support your findings with textbook cases and proving the reality that fraud does take place.
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