• ACFE Research Institute Mission

    The ACFE Research Institute (ARI) is dedicated to furthering our understanding of the causes and consequences of fraud. As such, the ACFE has funded several research studies that are of interest to ACFE members.

    ACFE Research Institute Research Studies

    The ACFE Research Institute provides monetary and data grants to support research into the latest fraud trends and developments affecting individuals, businesses and governments. When evaluating research grant proposals, the ARIs goal is to award grants to research that will help to improve the ability of businesses and government to combat fraud and to educate the public on effective methods for recognizing and deterring it.

    The following research studies have been approved for funding or data support through the ARI:

    Summer 2021

    Funded Studies:

    Data Analytics and Skeptical Actions: The Countervailing Effects of False Positives and Consistent Rewards for Skepticism By Joe Brazel (North Carolina State University) and Tammie Schaefer (University of Missouri - Kansas City)

    Data-Supported Studies:

    The Association Between Business Sustainability and Financial and Nonfinancial Misconducts by Zabidollah Rezaee (University of Memphis) and Kehinde Mayokun Ogunade (Ph.D. student, Accounting, University of Memphis)

    Summer 2020

    Funded Studies:

    False Positives vs. Hit Rates: Does the Framing of Data Analytic Calibration Affect Auditor Skepticism? By Joe Brazel (North Carolina State University) and Tammie Schaefer (University of Missouri - Kansas City)

    Data-Supported Studies:

    Examining the Relationship between Individual and Corporate Instability and Workplace Crime and Deviance by Emily M. Homer (Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington) and George E. Higgins (Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of Louisville)

    The Corporate Fraud Offender: An Investigation of Personal and Organizational Attributes of Corporate Accounting Fraud/ Bryant University Honors Program by Edinaldo Tebaldi (Brynat University Senior Honors Thesis/Professor), Michael Wojcikiewicz (Honors Student) and Kwadwo Asare (Honors Faculty Advisor)

    An audit planning tool for fraud risk assessment: A machine learning approach by Miklos Vasarhelyi (KPMG Distinguished Professor of Accounting Information Systems and Director of Rutgers Accounting Research Center and Continuous Auditing and Reporting Lab), Hele Brown-Liburd (Associate Professor, Accounting & Information Systems and Associate Director of Rutgers Continuous Auditing & Reporting Lab), Soohyun Cho (Assistant Professor, Accounting & Information Systems, Rutgers) and Ivy Munoko, CISA, ACCA (Ph.D. student, Accounting Information Systems, Rutgers)

    Summer 2019

    Funded Studies:

    Machine Learning from Human Demonstration: Applications for Fraud Investigation by Stephanie Rosenthal (Chatham University) and Tingting (Rachel) Chung (William & Mary)

    Slipping through the regulatory cracks: Banned brokers selling insurance by William Gerken and Mehrnoush Shahhosseini (Kentucky)

    An Experimental Investigation of Nonprofit Form 990: Reporting of Significant Diversions of Assets by Andrea Scheetz (Radford University) and Aaron Wilson (Ohio University)

    “Asset Misappropriation in Education: Investigating Embezzlement in the K-12 Setting” by Jared Eutsler and Lauren Eutsler (both of North Texas University)

    Thanks to the ACFE’s Report to the Nations (RTTN), much is known about white-collar fraud in the business setting. However, little is known about occupational fraud in education. Eutsler and Eutsler identified approximately 2,500 news articles describing embezzlement in K-12 education during the past decade. They then compared these education frauds to frauds reported in the RTTN database. The authors find that education frauds are smaller in magnitude but last longer than RTTN frauds. In addition, fraudsters in the education field tend to be older and are more likely to be female. Finally, education frauds are more likely to involve cash or checks, which demonstrates the importance of internal controls over cash and disbursements within school systems. These results provide important information to school administrators and communities about the risk of embezzlement within local schools.

    Data-Supported Studies:

    Identifying increased risk for occupational fraud from the economic pressures related to the stages of the industry life cycle by Demond Daniels and Firasat Khan (Metropolitan State University)

    "An Examination of Fraud Led by Information Technology Perpetrators" Richard Dull and Marie Rice (both of West Virginia University)

    Companies increasingly rely on technology adoption, as well as professionals with the necessary skills and expertise to manage advanced technology. These information technology professionals are provided privileged access to organizational systems to complete their duties. Dull and Rice examine how frauds committed by IT perpetrators compare to frauds committed by non-IT fraudsters. They find that IT specialists’ expertise and systems access increase their capability to commit and conceal fraud. Frauds perpetrated by IT specialists occur earlier in their tenure than those of their non-specialist counterparts. In addition, IT perpetrators generate similar losses as non-IT perpetrators in shorter timeframes. Anti-fraud specialists should be aware of these important differences and consider how to better detect fraud committed by IT perpetrators.

    Social Identity, Gender and the Intersection with Fraud by James DiGabriele (Montclair) and Scott Fleming, Richard Riley and Trevor Sorensen (all at WVU)

    Fall 2017

    Funded Studies:

    Corporate Governance, Collusion and Financial Statements Fraud. Robert Davidson (Virginia Tech)

    Data Analytics: Using Creativity and Innovation to Find Fraud. Tina Carpenter, Margaret Christ, Rich Mautz (University of Georgia)

    Developing a non-profit fraud prediction model using time series analysis. Martha Eining (University of Utah), David Hurtt, Kathy Hurtt (both at Baylor University) and Claire Richards (Zayed University)

    Data-Supported Studies:

    Occupational fraud magnitude: Considerations of industry traits and fraud techniques. Aiyanna Washington, Amber DeCarlo and Tingting (Rachel) Chung (Chatham University)

    An Examination of Fraud Perpetrator Outcomes: Termination, Criminal and Civil. Erlina Papakroni and Marie Rice (both at West Virginia University)

    The effectiveness of monitoring mechanisms in preventing or detecting occupational fraud in nonprofit organizations. Angela Woodland (Montana State University)

    Summer 2017

    Funded Studies:

    Does Non-Financial Misconduct Predict Financial Misconduct? Evidence from Federal Agency Penalties. Aneesh Raghunandan (Stanford University)

    “Auditor Skepticism and Client Ill Will” by Jared Eutsler (University of North Texas), Kip Holderness (West Virginia University), Jesse Robertson ((University of North Texas) and Mary Curtis (North Texas University)

    Auditors are encouraged by their firms and by regulators to exercise professional skepticism during the audit, and much of the academic literature identifies the benefits of being skeptical during an audit. However, less is known about the costs of auditor skepticism — both to auditor-client relations as well as audit quality. The authors find that when audit clients perceive auditors to be more skeptical than expected, they feel ill-will toward the auditors. Consequently, client personnel are more likely to recommend switching auditors and are less forthcoming as they provide audit evidence, which can hinder auditors from performing a high-quality audit. However, the authors find that auditors can decrease client ill will by ingratiating themselves with client personnel to improve audit relations. Finally, the authors find that client personnel who are attempting to deceive auditors are less forthcoming than auditors who are not attempting to deceive auditors. Thus, practitioners who perceive individuals as withholding evidence should be aware that it may be because these individuals have something to hide. Alternatively, it may be the natural reaction of an honest individual who perceives that an auditor is being unnecessarily skeptical.

    Can Audit Firm Policies Alter Juror Reactions to Auditor Professional Skepticism? Joe Brazel (North Carolina State University), Christine Gimbar (DePaul University), Eldar Maksymov (Arizona State University), Tammie Schaefer (University of Missouri, Kansas City)

    Data-Supported Studies:

    SEC enforcement actions against CPAs: What are the outcomes related to licensure and sanctions? Does the CPA’s organizational role influence those outcomes? Cynthia Krom (Franklin & Marshall University)

    Fall 2016

    Funded Studies:

    Changing the Nature of Audit Procedures to Deter Fraud. Scott Fleming, Alyssa Ong (both at West Virginia University)

    Using Letter Analytics to Find Fraud. Nathan Mauck & Tammie Schaefer (University of Missouri-Kansas City); Richard Lanza (Practitioner)

    Evidencing Professional Skepticism in the Time Budget. Joe Brazel (North Carolina State University) and Christine Gimbar (DePaul University)

    The Impact of Big Data and Data Analytics on Finding Fraud. Ashley Austin (University of Richmond), Tina Carpenter, Margaret Christ, Christy Sims (University of Georgia)

    Summer 2016

    Funded Studies:

    The Dangers of Fostering Entitlement in the Workplace. Kip Holderness (West Virginia University)

    What Factors Explain the Duration of Fraud? Dahlia Robinson and Delroy Hunter (University of South Florida)

    Data-Supported Studies:

    The Role of Management Override and Other Anti-Fraud Breakdowns in Fraud Cases. Carol Bishop (Georgia Southwestern State University), Dana Hermanson (Kennesaw State) and Richard Riley (WVU)

    Cultural Effects on Whistleblowing Concerning Fraud. Rhonda Gilreath (Tiffin University)

    How Informative are Fraud and Non-Fraud Firms’ Earnings? Kwadwo N. Asare (Bryant University)

    Fall 2015

    Funded Studies:

    A Matter of Time: Reducing Constraints and Empowering Auditors to Find Fraud. Ashley Austin, Tina Carpenter, Margaret Christ, Christy Sims (University of Georgia)

    Prenatal Testosterone and Misreporting Behavior: Digit Ratios (2D:4D and rel2) as Predictors of Misreporting Behavior. Kristina Demek (University of Central Florida)

    The Robin-Hood Effect: Broad-Based Employee Stock Option Plans and Earnings Management. Kip Holderness (West Virginia University) and Melissa F. Western (University of Utah)

    Data-Supported Studies:

    The Impact of Internal Controls on the Duration of Fraud. Juan Mao (University of Texas at San Antonio)

    Summer 2015

    Funded Studies:

    Who Rewards Appropriate Levels of Professional Skepticism? Joe Brazel (North Carolina State University) and Tammie Schaefer (University of Missouri-Kansas City)

    A comparison of the proclivity to steal from individuals, not-for-profit organizations, and for-profit organizations. Cynthia L. Krom (Franklin & Marshall College)

    Data-Supported Studies:

    The Impact of Country Digital Infrastructure on Fraud Levels and Controls. Chih-Chen Lee (Northern Illinois University), Tingting (Rachel) Chung (Chatham University), Sunita Mondal (Slippery Rock University), Pratyush Sharma

    Fraud Losses, Individual and Organizational Conversion: The Intersection with Collusion. Erlina Papakroni and Richard Riley (both at West Virginia University)

    Fall 2014

    Funded Studies:

    Executive Equity Compensation and Accounting Fraud, Robert Davidson (Georgetown University)

    Fraud and Nonprofit Governance: Evidence from the Revised Form 990, Martha Eining (University of Utah), Kathy Hurtt (Baylor University) and Claire Richards (Zayed University)

    Fraud Risk Awareness in Local Governments, Ellen L. Landgraf and Laurence E. Johnson (Loyola University Chicago)

    Data-Supported Studies:

    Asset Misappropriation: Analysis of Predictors of Organizational Losses, Eberhard Feess and Yuriy Timofeyev (Frankfurt School of Finance & Management) (Complete)

    The Role of Short-Sellers in Detecting Financial Reporting Fraud, Zabihollah Rezaee (University of Memphis) and Yu Chen (Texas A&M International University) (In Progress)

    Summer 2014

    Funded Studies:

    Rewarding Appropriate Professional Skepticism Regardless of the Outcome: The Effect of Supervisor Consultation, Joe Brazel (North Carolina State University) and Tammie Schaefer (University of Missouri-Kansas City)

    Identifying the verbal and non-verbal communication behaviors of skeptical entry level auditors. Greg Trompeter and Jared Eutsler (University of Central Florida) and Anne Norris (Miami University)

    Data-Supported Studies:

    Collusion: Achilles’ Heel of Anti-Fraud Efforts. Dana Hermanson (Kennesaw State), Carol Bishop (Georgia Southwestern State University) and Richard Riley (WVU)

    Fall 2013

    Funded Studies:

    Is broker misconduct contagious? Career Networks and Fraud by Financial Advisors, William Gerken and Nathaniel P. Graham (University of Kentucky) and Stephen G. Dimmock (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)

    The Effect of Alumni Affiliations on Auditors’ Professional Skepticism, Ashley Austin and Tina Carpenter (both at University of Georgia)

    Data-Supported Studies:

    The Impact Of Occupational Mobility On White-Collar Crime: Gender Distinctions In A Global Setting, Theresa Hilliard and Presha Neidermeyer (both at West Virginia University)

    Petty Corruption in Organizations: Hierarchical Analysis, Yuriy Timofeyev (Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, Germany)

    General Strain Theory: Strain as a predictor or occupational fraud, Timothy Bergsma (Walden University)

    Summer 2013

    Funded Studies:

    The complementary influences of genetics and environment on successful lie detection in investigative fraud interviews. Chih-Chen Lee (Northern Illinois University), Tingting (Rachel) Chung (Carlow University)

    Asset Misappropriation Fraud and the Economy: An Experiment. D. Kip Holderness Jr. (West Virginia University and Jahangir Sultan (Bentley)

    The client interview: Client interpersonal style and trait-based skepticism in accounting students and early career auditors. Greg Trompeter and Anne Norris (both at University of Central Florida)

    Data-Supported Studies:

    Antecedents to Global Fraud. Chih-Chen Lee (Northern Illinois University), Tingting (Rachel) Chung (Chatham University), Sunita Mondal (University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg)

    Audit Committee Financial Expert and Fraud. Sheila Thiruvadi, Huang Hua-wei, Shiyaam T and Kelly E Carter (all from Morgan State University)

    Fall 2012

    Funded Studies:

    Hindsight Bias and Professional Skepticism: Does the End Justify the Means?, Joe Brazel and Tammie Schaefer (NC State)

    Data-Supported Studies:

    Auditor Tenure and Financial Reporting Fraud Pre and Post Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, M.J. Abdolmohammadi (Bentley) and K.N. Asare (Bryant)

    Understanding Differences Between Accidental Fraudsters and Predators, Dana Hermanson, Scot Justice, Sri Ramamoorti, (All from Kennesaw State) and Richard Riley (West Virginia)

    An Examination of Whistle-Blowing in Fraudulent Organizations, Chad Albrecht and Chris Skousen (Utah State)

    Summer 2012

    Funded Studies:

    Nature vs. Nurture: The Genetic Basis of Fraud Victimization, Tingting (Rachel) Chung (Carlow), Dennis Galletta (University of Pittsburgh)

    Survey of Fraud Examination and Forensic Accounting Programs, Dr. Graham Peace (WVU) / Dr. Richard Riley (Advisory Participant Only, WVU)

    Data-Supported Studies:

    Fraud and Audit Opinion Modifications. Investigation of fraud characteristics, resulting opinion modifications, and subsequent auditor punishments, Erin Burrell Nickell and Jared Eutsler (both at University of Central Florida) (Completed)

    An Examination of Fraudulent Financial Reporting: Public versus Private Companies, Fleming, Riley (both WVU), Hermanson (Kennesaw State), Kranacher (CUNY-York College)


    Funded Studies:

    An Experimental Study of Fraudulent Behavior, Michèle Belot, Marina Schröder

    Assessing Fraud Risk from Self-Regulatory Organization Disclosures, William Gerken (Auburn) and Stephen G. Dimmock (Nanyang Business School at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore)

    Executives' "Off-The-Job" Behavior, Corporate Culture, and Financial Reporting Risk, Robert Davidson (Georgetown), Aiyesha Dey (University of Minnesota), Abbie Smith


    Funded Studies:

    Financial & Non-Financial Inconsistencies/Audit Quality, Joe Brazel and Don Pagach (both at North Carolina State University)

    Fraud Response & Litigation Readiness, Patricia Johnson (Canisus College) and Linda Volonino (consultant)

    Motivation of Fraudsters in Local Government, Tammy Wolter (WSCS Consulting) and Robert Smith

    Small Business Fraud Awareness, Prevention and Detection, Val Trott Williams and Robert Kollar (both at Duquesne University)


    Funded Studies:

    Quantifying Intuitions about Risk: Comparing Partners Perceived as "Risky" and "Non-risky." Greg Trompeter and Anne Norris (both at University of Central Florida).

    Examining the Association between Psychological Measures and Risk of Fraud, Greg Trompeter and Anne Norris (both at University of Central Florida).

    Best Practices in On-Boarding New Accounts for Financial Institutions – Preventing Identity Fraud and Money Laundering, Michael C. Smith, and Kim Little, Lexis Nexis and Dr. Timothy Pearson, (West Virginia University)


    Funded Studies:

    The IFP commissioned five research monographs (white papers) to address the following questions and issues:

    • What do we currently know about the topical area?
    • What research has been done?
    • What are the lessons that we have learned?
    • What don't we know and what are we missing?
    • What additional resources are needed to do research on the topical area (additional theory, data, subjects, research methodology, etc.)?
    1. Fraudulent Financial Reporting: How Do We Close the Knowledge Gap? - Joseph Carcello (University of Tennessee) and Dana Hermanson (Kennesaw State University).
    2. The Legal Environment and White Collar Crime / Forensic Accounting - John Gill and Mark Scott (ACFE).
    3. Bringing Freud to Fraud - Sridhar Ramamoorti (Kennesaw State University), Daven Morrison (Morrison Associates) and Joseph W. Koletar (FBI, Retired)
    4. Fraud and Forensic Accounting In a Digital Environment - Conan Albrecht (Brigham Young University)
    5. Asset Misappropriation - Chad Albrecht (Utah State), Mary-Jo Kranacher, Editor-in-Chief (CPA Journal and York College) and Steve Albrecht (Brigham Young University).


    Funded Studies:

    Assessing the Role of Control Overrides in Financial Statement Fraud Study. conducted by Dr. Robert Tillman and Michael Indergaard (both at St. John's University)

    Assessing How Identity Thieves Obtain Identities for Exploitation, Dr. William Kresse (St. Xavier).

    Assessing How Procurement Fraud Suborns Officials, Nikos Passas (Northeastern)