The Fraud Examiner

Canadian CFE Finds Perfect Fit as Director of Fraud Prevention


July 2018

ACFE Member Profile
Sandrine Paquin-Lessard, CFE, CPA, CFF, CA
Director of Fraud Prevention and Detection
Cogeco Communications

Montreal-based fraud examiner Sandrine Paquin-Lessard, CFE, CPA, CFF, CA, has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the anti-fraud field. The director of fraud prevention and detection for Cogeco Communications knew she wanted to fight fraud the first time she took a fraud-related class while studying to become a CPA. She quickly set her sights on securing a job in the field and hopped around a couple firms before finding her perfect role at Cogeco. In her spare time she loves to surf and salsa dance.


How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?

In my last year of university, while I was studying for my CPA title, I had a short class about fraud investigation that lasted only one weekend. I immediately knew that fighting fraud is what I wanted to do since I found it more thrilling than general accounting/auditing, and I needed that excitement in my future job. I kept in contact with my teacher who was a partner in a forensic accounting specialized firm in Montreal. As soon as I got my CPA title, three years after all internships, I begged him for a job. I was pretty convincing and after a year he finally said yes. Then I moved to Montreal and started working in that field. It was the best decision of my life even though I was moving far away from my hometown and knew nothing about the reality of this career. 


What steps led you to your current position at Cogeco Communications?

Life is full of surprises. I was pretty ambitious, jumping from one firm to another to have a better position and wanted to learn more and more. Going from Navigant to PwC to Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton (RCGT). Unfortunately, RCGT decided to close their forensic department and I needed to find something else. I started to look for different opportunities since I didn’t want to go back to another firm. I was contacted by a headhunter that offered me a 10 years’ experience job which, at that moment, seemed out of reach since I had only five years’ experience in fraud. I decided to apply anyway and had an interview with the VP of Internal Audit of the company. One week later I met with the CFO and that same day I was called back for the job. It was unreal — I was delighted even if the challenge was big for me.    

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