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  • October 06, 2018 10:29 AM | Billy Petty (Administrator)

    The Austin Chapter of the ACFE has been targeted by fraudsters numerous times during the time that I have served on the Chapter Board.  Generally, these attempts would come in as phishing emails spoofed to appear that they were from the Chapter President and were directed to the Chapter Treasurer.  As I have watched this over the past few years, I have come to recognize the patterns and telling characteristics of these spoofed emails, and so far have successfully prevented any fraud on the Chapter.  Not being daunted by our success at avoiding fraud the emails continue to come, but now they have changed their tactics slightly that may offer a better chance of success.

    The old fraud:

    The phishing method fraudsters have used for the past several years is, sending the emails directing the treasurer to send money to some entity or request to know the current balances we have on deposit.  Many spoofed emails are easily detected just by looking at the email address from which they were sent.  Some of the more creative fraudsters would use an actual email address of the person they were spoofing, but when you would reply to the email, a slightly different email address would be substituted.  Modern email systems make using a “reply to” email address that is different from the sent email address very easy.

    Here is an example of one that the chapter received recently attempting to get one of our members to send money:

    ---------- Forwarded message ---------
    From: Billy Petty <president.p@presidency.com>     (Don’t email me here, this is fake) 
    Date: Sat, Oct 6, 2018 at 9:40 AM

    The “From” email address is a dead giveaway that this email is phishing, if you know that I do not use that email address.  In more sophisticated instances, the “From” email address will actually list my real email address, but the “reply to” email address will be something different.  The “reply to” email address does not usually become apparent until you actually create the reply email.

    The new twist:

    We have recently seen a trend where people associated with the chapter, other than the treasurer, are receiving email that appears to be from the chapter president directing them to send money to a third party with the promise of being reimbursed by the chapter.  The only real change is that rather than targeting the chapter treasurer, they are targeting others who are associated with the chapter trying to get members to pay with their own money on behalf of the chapter with the promise of reimbursement.

    Mitigation of the risk:

    As a chapter we use multiple methods to prevent fraud such as budgets, communications other than email or online, and sharing information about new threats.

    The chapter budgets for expenses for the year, and each board member has input in that process.  The budgeting process not only helps us to plan our finances, but also helps us to recognize an unusual pattern of spending or unusual requests for spending. 

    There is an agreement between the treasurer and president about how requests for disbursements will be made.  Typically these are done either face-to-face or through a phone call.  Due to the frequency of phishing emails and some of the talent that has been seen in creating the phishing emails, we do not use email as the only method of requesting payments being made.

    We share information among ourselves as we see different approaches being used to try and defraud us.  Just as we are doing with this short article and in all of our training, sharing of information about the tactics and techniques that are being used helps us all to prevent or at least mitigate fraud.

    As a chapter, we will not normally request members incur any expenses on behalf of the chapter to be later reimbursed.  Your board members will occasionally incur small expenses that are reimbursed, but these are planned and expected.  If you receive any requests like this, I would encourage you to reach out to me or another board member before sending any money as it would very likely be a phishing email.

    Why not report this to police?

    These type of fraudulent attempts can certainly be reported to law enforcement, as they are criminal attempts to defraud.  Unfortunately the volume of these types of phishing attempts is overwhelming for law enforcement and often times there is too little information available to launch an investigation with any chance of successfully identifying and arresting the offender.

    When phishing attempts are received, one technique that can be used to stop them is reporting the phishing attempt to the company that either hosts the domain name or to the company that hosts the email service.  A query of the domain name with a “whois” query service such as CentralOps.net will provide information about the registrar that controls the domain name.  Usually reporting the abuse to the registrar will eventually result in a cancellation of the domain which stops the phishing attempts for a short time.  Unfortunately, acquiring a new domain is simple and relatively inexpensive, so this is unlikely to be a permanent solution.

    Phishing is a problem that we will have for the foreseeable future.  Using a mixture of traditional anti-fraud controls and continuing to learn about these techniques is the best protection we can use to stop our organization or us individually from becoming a victim of this type of fraud.


  • August 14, 2018 7:41 AM | Billy Petty (Administrator)

    We are excited to start our new CPE year for 2018-2019.  By now you should have received our first email blast about our September meeting.  The September meeting will be on Tuesday September 4th.  We are meeting on a Tuesday due to the first Monday being Labor Day. 

    We have had at least one person for which the link to the September meeting did not work.  If the registration link is not working please go to: https://acotaocfe.wildapricot.org/event-3034157 to register.

    We have a list of our planned meeting dates available on the home page of the chapter website at http://www.austinacfe.com.  Please note that in November, we will be meeting on the first Tuesday because our meeting room at Maggiano’s was not available. 

    The board met over the summer and decided to keep pricing for events the same as last year.  We believe that this is a great value for CPE.  We did decide to not turn away walk-ins at our lunch-n-learn meetings if we have room for them.  However, we did price walk-ins higher because our cost at Maggiano’s is higher for people who did not pre-register.  Those prices are listed on the events page.

    Next year the 30th ACFE Global Fraud Conference will be held in Austin.  The ACFE will be asking for the Austin Chapter to assist with the event by providing volunteers at the conference and by hosting an event during the week.  We are considering a live music event at the Bob Bullock State History Museum along with some other ideas.  We will be asking for volunteers to help at the Fraud Conference and the Austin Chapter event that will be held that week.

    We have many new officers this year as well as chair people for two newly formed committees.  You can learn more about each of them on our board page on the website.  Each of us is here to help every member of our chapter however we can.  Please feel free to reach out to us if we can be of service.


  • May 22, 2018 9:08 AM | Cynthia Fenton (Administrator)

    Madeline (Maddie) Conner  and Theodore Rowlett were recently named as scholarship recipients by the Austin chapter of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE).   The scholarships were awarded on the basis of overall academic achievement, letters of recommendation from faculty and accounting professionals, and the quality of a written essay.  Ms. Conner will graduate with a BBA in accounting from St. Edward's University in August 2018 and Mr. Rowlett will be a December 2018 graduate from Texas State University with a BBA in accounting.  Ms. Conner’s references noted she is an exceptional student and dedicated to her academic studies along with having high ethical standards.  She has worked for a local CPA firm for nearly two years and through that work became interested in the area of fraud examination.  Mr. Rowlett’s references described him as having an exceptional work ethic, maturity, and integrity.  For nearly two years, he has worked 25 hours per week while pursuing his undergraduate degree and is an assistant director and math/science tutor at San Marcos Academy.  Both students will pursue their master's degrees as well as CPA and CFE credentials.

  • April 02, 2018 2:53 PM | Cecily Raiborn (Administrator)

    I want to thank everyone for making today's luncheon a huge success. I hope that all of you enjoyed Andy's talk as much as I did...and, more importantly, learned as much as I did from it. I was so wishing that lunch could have lasted for three hours!

    He mentioned at the end about General Electric and I thought I'd send you a link to a recent article in which you might be interested. Drake Bennett, "What the Hell is Wrong with General Electric?", Bloomberg Business Week, 2/5/18.

  • December 12, 2017 10:38 AM | Cecily Raiborn (Administrator)

    Chapter Members: There will be a drawing at the February meeting for two $500 stipends to attend the ACFE conference in June. If you are interested, send your name to Marci Sundbeck at mbsundbeck@yahoo.com before midnight on January 15. The stipend will be paid to the winners after conference attendance in June. 

    Good luck! 

  • October 16, 2017 7:39 AM | Cecily Raiborn (Administrator)

    In conjunction with their annual International Fraud Awareness Week, November 12-18, 2017, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) has offered up two videos explaining why people commit fraud, and what common traits fraudsters possess. The “Why Do People Commit Fraud?” video explores how pressure, opportunity and rationalization — called the Fraud Triangle — can come together to influence an individual to commit fraud. The “What Does a Fraudster Look Like?” video dives into what similarities fraudsters have, such as age, gender, tenure at a company and more.

    Individuals and organizations can sign up as official Fraud Week supporters at FraudWeek.com. They can access other resources including free guides, infographics and more on the site. For more information, contact Sarah Hofmann at SHofmann@ACFE.com or (512) 478-9000.

    http://www.acfe.com/press-release.aspx?id=4294999349

  • March 09, 2017 1:44 PM | Cecily Raiborn (Administrator)

    AT DALLAS LIQUOR STORE CHAIN SIGEL'S, TEXAS WINE MEANS TEXAS WINE

    by Andrew Chalk

    Sigel’s, one of the largest wine sellers in the Dallas area, has taken a pathbreaking decision to promote Texas wine. Going forward, only wine legally appellated as Texas (or a sub-division within Texas) will be placed on the Texas shelves in all eight stores. Wines designated For Sale in Texas Only™ (FSITO, pronounced “footso”) will not be placed on the Texas shelves. Furthermore, most FSITO wines will be dropped in order to make shelf space for Texas wine. In accordance with the new policy, existing inventories of FSITO wine are being run down and the chain has placed orders with several Texas wineries to replace them, including Brennan Vineyards, Lost Draw Cellars, and Trilogy Cellars.

    FSITO wines are bulk wine (typically from California’s central valley) that are labelled to look like Texas wine. By embellishing the back label with For Sale in Texas Only (typically in a tiny, difficult to read typeface) the wines are exempt from Federal labelling laws that require the origin of a wine to be shown on the front label. Instead, FSITO sellers use symbology such as long-horned cattle, the colors of the state flag, allusions to Texas poets, claims of Texas Style, etc. on the label to mislead consumers into thinking that they are buying a Texas wine. By trading on state pride, the bulk wines sell at higher prices and volumes. The conceit has fooled a Master of Wine, the nation’s largest wine retailer, Costco, restaurant critics, and wine buyers. If the FSITO mechanism did not exist bulk wine sellers would be forced to honestly label their wine (usually as “American”, the most generic designation).

    The Texas wine industry is damaged by FSITO wine all down the supply line. Sales of FSITO wines subtract (as a first approximation, bottle-for-bottle) from Texas wine sales. When consumers discover that they have been duped, many just give up on Texas wine, figuring it is all FSITO. That leads to lower prices for Texas wine and lower plantings for Texas grapes. In recent years the improving quality of Texas wine has allowed the industry to make some headway against the FSITO sellers.

    Commenting on the new policy, Sigel’s Director of Wine & Marketing, Jasper Russo, said “Part and parcel of what we as retailers do is to educate and inform our customers about the wines they are purchasing. Offering what we feel are the best examples and best values available from the differing wine regions around the world is made harder by such manufactured categories such as FSITO. We feel our customers are better served by the transparency inherent in the classical geographic appellations. Also we find that California wineries do a better job of making California wines and feel it is time for the Texas wine industry to stand proudly behind what they do best within the context of the rich winemaking heritage that the state has developed. The crutch of FSITO is a detriment to the continued evolution and progression of Texas wine.”

    Sigel’s has served Dallas since 1905 and has a disproportionately large share of wine sales by virtue of its active tasting program, knowledgable staff, and sourcing of exclusives. It has held Texas-themed events in its stores as well in the past, such as a Texas spirits festival. Hopefully this policy change is a bellwether encouraging other wine sellers to separate out Texas wine from FSITO wine on their shelves.  

    An example of a  wine. The head of long-horned cattle (symbol of the University of Texas) adorns the front label but the wine is neither made in Texas nor made from Texas grapes. You recognize this as a FSITO wine by looking for the For Sale In Texas Only designation buried deep in the back label. Last year, in a public letter, I asked this producer where the grapes came from and if any percentage was Texas grapes. They refused to say. My guess is that this is bulk wine made in California’s central valley and shipped to Texas by tanker truck for bottling.

    Source: https://docs.google.com/document/d/12Q6Zkog3W2moZJrqgk2wOZxaFx_tax_0U0eLscvvjrU/pub

  • September 19, 2016 7:39 AM | Cecily Raiborn (Administrator)

    Do you have any ideas for speakers? (You? A friend? Someone from a particular type of organization?)

    Do you have any ideas for speaker topics? (Yes, ethics is on the list! Other thoughts: interviewing; IT fraud; hacking; risk assessment; fraud against seniors; locating hidden assets; failure to detect fraud…  Your preferences?)

    Do you have any ideas for a good networking/social event for chapter members?

    Do you have a charity/community event with which the chapter could assist in some way?

    Would you be willing to assist the chapter in activities during International Fraud Awareness Week (November 13-19, 2016)? (Would your company be interested in being a sponsor for one or more activities?)

    If you answered yes to any of these questions, please get in touch with me (craiborn1030@att.net) or one of the other board members. We'd love your input!

  • September 19, 2016 7:35 AM | Cecily Raiborn (Administrator)

    There will be a drawing held at the January 9, 2017, meeting for two $500 stipends to help Austin Chapter members defray their costs to attend the Annual ACFE Global Fraud Conference in Nashville, TN, from June 19-21, 2017. If you're interested in participating, please send your name and email address to Marci (mbsundbeck@yahoo.com) no later than midnight January 8, 2017. The stipend will be paid after the conference upon proof of attendance. 

    Good luck to everyone!

  • September 02, 2016 8:12 PM | Billy Petty (Administrator)

    We are rolling out a new and more interactive website for our members.  Your board recently voted to move the chapter website and payment gateway to the "Wild Apricot" website to better serve our chapter members.

    This new site will allow members to self-register and immediately pay online for all of our chapter events.  This should streamline both the registration and payment process, and also the sign-in process at all of our training meetings.  It also will give members access to a members only section of our website and the ability for members to manage their membership better.

    The roll-out of the new website is ongoing and improvements will continue in the upcoming weeks.  Some of the things that will be done over the next few weeks are pointing our domain name (austinacfe.com) to the new website, improved content (as soon as I can get Cecily to write it for me), additional content and more member specific content. 

    In the meantime, you should always be able to reach the new website at: http://acotaocfe.wildapricot.org.

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