• Career Center: Take Me to the Next Level

    CFE Uses Data Skills to Bridge the Gap Between Two Career Dreams 

    Jeremy Clopton, CFE, CPA, ACDA 

    Senior Managing Consultant 

    BKD Forensics  

    Jeremy Clopton 

    Jeremy Clopton, CFE, CPA, ACDA, is a Senior Managing Consultant at BKD Forensics in the forensics and valuation services division, and is a recurring author of the Fraud EDge column in Fraud Magazine. Clopton focuses on data analytics for fraud prevention and detection, and he works with other CFEs in his division to use data analytics for investigative purposes. "Data analytics can be used to enhance the perception of detection," Clopton says. "Organizations that use analytics have the opportunity to focus their efforts on transactions of higher risk and do so more quickly than organizations without analytics. I am a firm believer that the fight against fraud is much more effective when it's fought with preventive measures within an organization rather than after it's occurred."

    How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?

    Growing up I wanted to be an attorney, but after discovering accounting, I decided it was the career I wanted pursue. In high school, I shadowed a CFE for job experience, and it became clear to me that being a CFE would give me the chance to enjoy the best parts of being an accountant while still working with attorneys. After entering the profession, I've been amazed at the lengths to which people will go just to commit fraud. Fighting fraud is definitely challenging, because fraudsters are always using new methods — or variations on old methods — to commit fraud. The constant innovation and creativity required to keep up with these schemes drives my passion.

    What steps led you to your current position? 

    When I started in the forensics division of BKD, I had a knack for Excel and an interest in statistics. This led me to some interesting investigation projects and the chance to learn more about data mining and analytics. About a year into my career, I started using ACL software and focused on the use of data mining in fraud examinations. Since then I've expanded my toolset to include other analytics products, and I now work with organizations to use data analytics for investigations, prevention and fraud risk management.

    What does your current role entail?

    My focus is on data analytics for fraud prevention and detection. My typical projects include:

    Working with other CFEs in our division to use data analytics for investigative purposes.

    Using data analytics to provide fraud risk management and prevention services for organizations looking to be more proactive.

    Helping organizations bring data analytics in-house, develop strategic plans, automate procedures and train personnel.

    I also speak at conferences around the country about how they can use data analytics to manage fraud risk in their organizations.

    What's one tip you have for people working in data analytics?

    Don't be afraid to try. Data analytics, especially with large data sets, can be intimidating. To get started, you must be willing to accept that you might not succeed on your first effort. The key is to learn from that experience and make the next even better. Failure is an option as long as you are willing to use that failure as a springboard for success.

    What's the biggest trend you're seeing in the data analytics field?

    The use of unstructured data (email, social media, documents, etc.) is probably the biggest trend. Historically, structured data — much of it financial — has been the focus for fraud examiners because it's what was available. With advances in digital forensics and data analytics solutions, the use of unstructured data is growing at a rapid pace. The use of augmented intelligence, predictive coding, natural language processing, tone detection and other textual analytics in investigations is more common than ever before. Some organizations are using these technologies for preventive measures, which is great to see.

    Why is using data analytics important in the fight against fraud?

    Many fraud schemes affect a very small number of transactions in an organization, especially when compared to the total population of transactions. Pulling a sample of items as a preventive measure is no longer enough. Data analytics allows an organization to have 100 percent coverage when testing their transactions. Rather than pulling a sample of items from the full populations, we can now pull transactions that are exceptions to normal business expectations for follow-up and research. Using a dashboard of fraud risk indicators, organizations can quickly see where their highest risks exist.

    What hobbies or activities do you like to do outside of work?

    I enjoy spending my time with my wife and kids. We tend to be an active family, spending time running, enjoying the outdoors, playing sports or, on occasion, just relaxing on the deck with friends and family.