ACFE member William Klun spent decades working in the financial industry before setting his sights on fighting fraud. In addition to his drive to seek the truth, he also spends time helping refugees find asylum. Here is his story in his own words.
After almost 25 years in energy finance, I decided it was time for a change. My skills and experience were valuable, but I felt I was not using them for maximum effect. I was doing the same kind of work, in the same way, with the same outcome. To be blunt, I knew the skills I acquired in my line of work were important — accounting, finance, financial analysis, law, etc. — but my issue was: Why? Why am I doing this? What purpose does it serve?
I always had an interest in forensic accounting, and the reason is simple — forensic accounting is the perfect profession for those seeking truth. I had a lot of heart for getting to the root of things, so back to school I went and picked up a graduate certificate in forensic accounting. I love it because as a forensic accountant, I can expose truth with numbers. Sometimes that truth makes people highly uncomfortable, but I’m ok with that. I fight fraud because I’m driven to prove the truth, no matter how uncomfortable it may be.
My real journey began when I was a senior banker with a great deal of Enron exposure. I always felt uneasy about the company, but I did not know why. At a Christmas party, another banker said, “people do not generally lie on their tax returns.” That got me thinking, and I decided to dig in. I did a deferred tax analysis of Enron’s reported mark-to-market earnings versus what they disclosed in their footnotes. The differences were striking — it was obvious they were lying. I wrote a memo to senior management to that effect and got subpoenaed and had to testify. That is the point I realized that speaking the truth with numbers is exceptionally important and it was where I wanted to focus my energy.
As an extension of my interest in forensic accounting work, I am active in helping to rescue refugees from life-threatening situations. Using the skills I’ve acquired along the way has helped me to be relentless in my pursuit of justice. It is both exhilarating and frustrating, but it is the most rewarding work because I can make a meaningful difference for someone who might otherwise have nowhere to turn.
I believe all fraud examiners could benefit from being involved in humanitarian work. With our training, we are uniquely qualified to find a way out. Fraud examiners are, almost by definition, creative — we have to be; that is nature of the work. My advice to other anti-fraud professionals is to find your soul and be relentless. Never give up on truth and justice.
ACFE membership is open to individuals of all job functions, industries and levels of experience who are interested in the prevention, detection and deterrence of fraud. If you want to level up your anti-fraud career, we can help.