The ACFE Mentoring Program connects members to anti-fraud professionals from all over the world who can offer a wealth of resources, experience, advice and guidance. Mentees can search among registered mentors to find individuals whose experience and expertise match the areas in which they wish to be mentored. Kate Rolan initially reached out to David Harper, CFE, after seeing his experience in law enforcement and investigations on the ACFE Community.
This is Kate and David’s mentoring story.
How did you become interested in fraud and what is your current role?
Kate: I am currently employed as an Internal Revenue Agent for Tax Exempt and Government Entities, IRS. I got interested in fraud about three years ago when I started working on a case showing some fraud indicators. The audit was complicated but very interesting. I decided to learn more about fraud, talked to my colleagues, found out about ACFE, and joined!
David: I became interested in fighting against fraud early in my federal law enforcement career when I was assigned to the New York City office of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. I had previously worked in general crimes, including homicides, sexual assaults and property crimes. I had an opportunity to become involved in complex financial crimes and fraud against the government. I found these types of cases were more challenging and captured my attention.
After retiring from federal law enforcement in 2016, I successfully sought an opportunity as the Inspector General for the City of Albuquerque, where I worked for a few years before accepting an opportunity as the Inspector General for the Florida Department of Financial Services.
Why was it important for both of you to join the Mentoring Program?
Kate: I was looking for a mentor who was experienced in fraud investigation and could provide guidance for real-life tough audits and give some tips for case development. I wanted to learn more about the ACFE and expand my network contacts. Another goal was to prepare for the CFE exam and get advice from a person who had already done it.
David: I’ve had many informal mentors during my career from whom I gained so much knowledge. I have long believed it was important to give back by sharing my knowledge and experience with others. It is a great way to pay it forward.
Kate, what inspired you to request David?
Kate: I thought that it was a great opportunity to learn from a professional. I was looking for real-life experience, willingness to teach, and a positive attitude. David is very compassionate about mentoring and went out of his way to help me to grow professionally in a new field for me.
David, how did you know Kate would be the right mentee for your experience and skillset?
David: After receiving a request from Kate to be her mentor, we had an opportunity to talk and spoke about what she was seeking. Since my background is in law enforcement and investigations, rather than accounting and auditing, I wanted to be sure that I was the right person to help her. I told her that I could help in the investigations area, and it turned out that was what she was seeking.
What advice do you both have for anyone who wants to join the ACFE Mentoring Program?
Kate: I know it’s not always easy to find a mentor. I would recommend starting to search for potential mentors earlier, before the program officially starts and send requests to several mentors. Then have a discovery call with all potential mentors who responded to your requests. During your conversation ask questions, explain your expectations for the mentoring program and listen to your interlocutor, thus you will be able to find a mentor who best meets your expectations. You will have a very rewarding learning experience, meet a new colleague and expand your expertise.
David: I believe the ACFE Mentoring program provides great potential for learning and networking. It’s not just the mentee learning from the mentor, but an exchange of experiences, ideas and advice—a win-win opportunity!
What challenges did you face during your session? How did you handle adversity to still have a productive mentoring session?
David: Unfortunately, I was diagnosed with severe COVID and was hospitalized followed by 24-hour oxygen treatment for a few months after my hospitalization. Because I wasn’t able to actively mentor Kate during this time, I told her that I would continue to mentor her for a few more months afterwards.
Kate: I don’t think we had many challenges. David had created a plan for our sessions and every meeting we discussed a new topic, I asked questions. During our collaboration with David, I have learned a lot of new information about fraud investigation process and other issues. He was always on time and followed his promises to provide the materials or cover new interesting topics.
What has been the most rewarding part of your journey together?
Kate: I am very grateful to David for his very warm, friendly attitude and his desire to teach and share his knowledge of fraud examination with a newbie. David was my first ACFE mentor and after having such a positive experience with him, I decided to continue participating in the ACFE Mentoring program. I understood the fraud investigation process as a whole and realized I want to continue to learn and become a fraud investigator myself. I definitely feel more prepared for the exam and I’m going to study harder and take it this year.
David: I believe our mentoring relationship provided both of us with an opportunity to learn about new things that will help each of us in our fight against fraud. For me, Kate’s experience as a revenue agent for the Internal Revenue Service, allowed me to learn more about the mission of IRS and how they detect and investigate tax fraud.
Visit the Mentoring Program homepage for more information about the program.
SOURCE: ACFE Insights – A Publication of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners