The Fraud Examiner

From 1988 to Present: The ACFE Looks Back at 25 Years

September 2013 

By ACFE Staff 


In 1985, a casual conversation between accountant-turned-FBI agent Dr. Joseph T. Wells, CFE, CPA, and Dr. Donald Cressey, the foremost criminologist in the country, planted the seed for what would become the world’s largest anti-fraud organization. Just three years after that fateful day, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) was born – and the rest, as they say, is history. 


Together with its global membership of more than 67,000 anti-fraud professionals, the ACFE is celebrating its 25th anniversary – marking a quarter-century of leading a profession that was itself created by Dr. Wells and his founding of the association. Prior to the existence of the ACFE, fraud detection and deterrence were generally handled by two disparate groups: accountants who didn’t know anything about investigating fraud, and investigators who didn’t know anything about accounting.  


Dr. Cressey had suggested to Dr. Wells that “what you need to do is combine these disciplines.” A few years later, Dr. Wells did just that. The culmination of this insight led to the formation of a common body of knowledge known today as fraud examination and forever bridged a gap. 


Twenty-five years later, Certified Fraud Examiners (CFEs) are actively fighting fraud every day, making a huge impact in business and government around the world. As experts in fraud detection, deterrence and detection, these leading professionals are the face of the ACFE – from Worldcom whistleblower Cynthia Cooper to Madoff gumshoe Harry Markopolos, from the investigators of the UN oil-for-food scandal to the thousands of other CFEs who are putting their skills to use to protect corporations, businesses and government agencies and fight fraud.  

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