Sentinels We Have Known

By Dick Carozza

Fraud examiners have tough jobs, but they could be tougher without sentinels -- courageous insiders who risk all to do what's right. Here we revisit sentinels who have been honored through the years in Fraud Magazine. 

Here's the typical scenario. A loyal auditing employee -- let's call her Brenda -- suspects that her supervisor is being coerced to cook the books. Brenda is conflicted; she could report her suspicions to her boss' boss, but he might be the ringleader. If she goes to someone higher in the food chain -- such as the VP for accounting -- she might be putting her head on the chopping block. 

In this SOX-enlightened age, she decides to go to the chair of the audit committee. He assures her that he'll look into the matter, which he does. Soon her boss relegates Sarah to a small cubicle, reduces her responsibilities, and gives her a paltry raise. Within a year, the firm fires her after a negative job review. 

According to Joseph T. Wells, CFE, CPA, Chairman and founder of the ACFE, sentinels (aka whistle-blowers) are labeled as bigmouths, busybodies, snitches, tattlers, and troublemakers. "And as CFEs, we wonder why employees don't come forward and tell us of the frauds they know about," he said. 

Through the years, the ACFE has honored some courageous people in Fraud Magazine and with the Cliff Robertson Sentinel Award. Here are sentinels who tenaciously gritted their teeth, risked their careers and mental health, and saw some changes.

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