FSS Fraud and Financial Investigations Section Meeting | SFS50218

Date :
February 23, 2018 8:30 AM - 3:00 PM
Location :
Los Angeles Airport
Facility :
Embassy Suites LAX South
Get Directions
Level of Difficulty :
Member Price :
Nonmember Price :
CPE Credits :
CPE 1.50, FR 1.50, AA 1.50, CPE 1.00, FR 1.00, AA 1.00, CPE 1.50, FR 1.50, AA 1.50
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Excel Tips and Techniques for Uncovering Spreadsheet Fraud - 1.0 CPE
Eric Augusta, Principal, Eric W. Augusta & Associates
Excel expert Eric Augusta will demonstrate how to examine Excel spreadsheets for possible fraud by utilizing key analytical tools, like histograms and regression analysis. He'll also delve into spreadsheet security, how to locate hidden data using macros, background error checking, and more!  

Ponzi Schemes and Fraudulent Transfers: Expertly Supporting the Innocent-Investor Defense
 - 1.5 CPE, A&A, FR
Reno Fernandez, Esq., Partner, Macdonald | Fernandez LLP
Reno Fernandez with Macdonald | Fernandez will discuss all things Ponzi Schemes, including an overview of Ponzi Schemes, relevant considerations, parties with potential liabilities, and information on approaches and considerations when defending investors in Ponzi Schemes.
Retainer Scams: What CPAs Should Know - 1.5 CPE
Brian A. Sullivan, CPA/ABV, Sullivan & Company, CPA, Inc. 
Christopher C. Cooke, Esq., Partner, Murphy Cooke Kobrick
Today's scams are more sophisticated than ever - you may recognize the one with the foreign prince who passed away and is leaving you his $150 million inheritance.  But are you at risk of falling prey to the retainer fee scam? Brian Sullivan, CPA/ABV, and Christopher C. Cooke, with Murphy Cooke Kobrick, will walk through this new scam, sharing the red flags and how to protect yourself.


  • Learn about various approaches and considerations when defending investors in Ponzi schemes. 
  • Understand parties with potential liabilities.
  • Walk through how a retainer scam works.
  • Discover the red flags of retainer scams.
  • Gain information on how to protect yourself from a retainer scam.
  • Learn how Excel's Data Analysis tools can create Histograms and Regressions for spotting potentially fraudulent data.
  • Understand the difference between a "hidden" sheet and a "very hidden" sheet (where fraudulent data may be located).
  • Use CONCATENATION to perform a "Same-Same-Same" analysis to discover potential fraud.
  • Understand how Excel can perform a "Benford's Law" analysis on large data sets.
  • Gain an appreciation of how "UN" secure Excel is, how easy it is to crack certain passwords, uncover "hidden" linked data, etc.

Major Subjects:

  1. Ponzi Schemes
    Common Patterns
  2. Elements / Factors
  3. Forum
    Bankruptcy Court
    Other (e.g. SIPC)
  4. Cooperating with Law Enforcement
  5. Presumption of Fraud
  6. Fraudulent Transfers
    Constructive Fraud
    Actual Fraud
  7. Targets
  8. Defenses
    Innocent Investors, including personal financials
    In Pari Delicto
  9. Evidence
    Financial Books and Records
    Financial Statements
    Offering Memoranda
  10. Expert Opinions
    FRE 702
  11. Tax Comments
    “The Madoff Rule"

    · Overview of retainer scams
    · Landscape and fraud targets
    · Red flags
    · Detecting excel "hidden sheets and rows" using macros and "background error checking"
    · Using a "sheet event" to fraudulently change numbers
    · Fooling "background error check"
    · Cracking excel passwords
    · Forensic data analysis using histograms, regression analysis and Benford's Law

Advanced Prep:

Meeting materials are available three days prior to the meeting as a download on the CalCPA website.

Misc. Information:

  • Registration opens at 8:30am
  • Includes breakfast, lunch, and parking.
  • Address: Embassy Suites by LAX South, 1440 East Imperial Ave, El Segundo, CA 90245
  • To request the hotel shuttle, call (310) 640-3600.
  • If you have dietary restrictions and would like to request a special meal, please email Emily Ku (emily.ku@calcpa.org) by February 17.
Level of Difficulty:
Field of Interest:
Specialized Knowledge
Some knowledge of forensic accounting is preferred. 
Designed For:
CPAs and other forensic accounting professionals


Eric Augusta
Eric Augusta is principal of Eric W. Augusta & Associates, a consulting practice he started in 2000 specializing in designing and building custom Excel applications. Prior to consulting, he was with The Cerplex Group, Inc. for five years as chief financial officer and vice president, finance. From 1977 to 1994, he was with Xerox Computer Services, serving as manager, financial planning and analysis; accounting manager; controller; and vice president, finance. He began his career as a financial analyst with Ford Motor Company.

Augusta is a member of Financial Executives International (FEI) and a Microsoft-certified Excel expert, and has been a UCLA Extension instructor since 2001 teaching Excel modeling and productivity tips and techniques. He is also the author of Navigating the Road to EXCEL-lence. After earning his bachelor’s degree in economics from Cornell University, he served three years as a naval officer aboard a U.S. Atlantic Fleet destroyer. Following his military service, Augusta earned his master’s in business administration, concentrating in finance, from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Christopher C. Cooke
Christopher Cooke is an attorney with over twenty-eight years’ experience, including over thirteen years at his own law firm, which he founded in 2004 with two other partners. Since starting his law firm in 2004, Mr. Cooke’s practice has focused on representing individuals and businesses in federal regulatory investigations and in parallel civil and criminal proceedings, including investigations and proceedings by U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the United States Department of Justice, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. He has also represented both plaintiffs and defendants in complex civil litigation in federal and state courts at the trial court level and on appeal, including representing defendants in shareholder class actions, shareholder derivative litigation, and actions by the FDIC as a receiver against former bank officers. He has also represented individuals and businesses in public company internal investigations, FINRA investigations, and FINRA arbitrations. He has particular experience in helping clients navigate the difficult world of parallel civil and criminal investigations arising from potential violations of the federal securities laws. Before starting his law firm, Mr. Cooke worked for the Enforcement Division of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in San Francisco, where he was a Branch Chief. While at the SEC, Mr. Cooke conducted investigations of, and filed civil and administrative actions against, companies and individuals violating the federal securities laws. Among the SEC cases he has filed, Mr. Cooke brought civil enforcement actions against public companies and their executive officers for fraudulently reporting their financial results to the investing public, against brokerage firms and investment advisers for defrauding their clients, and against investment bankers and others for fraudulently raising money from investors, in municipal securities offerings involving so-called “dirt bonds.” Before he joined the SEC, Mr. Cooke was an attorney at Morrison & Foerster LLP, where he represented a wide variety of clients in federal and state courts in California, concentrating on complex litigation matters, including federal and state securities class actions, shareholder derivative actions, and ERISA class actions. Mr. Cooke began his legal career as a law clerk to the Hon. Eugene F. Lynch of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco. Mr. Cooke received his law degree from UCLA School of Law in 1989, where he as Order of the Coif and co-Managing Editor of the Pacific Basin Law Journal, and earned his undergraduate degree from Cornell University, College of Arts & Sciences (A.B. in History) in 1985.
Reno F.R. Fernandez, III
Brian A Sullivan, ABV, CBA, CFE, CPA, CVA
Brian A. Sullivan, CPA, is a Managing Director of The McLean Group's Silicon Valley office. He specializes in providing closely held business owners advice and planning solutions regarding alternative wealth transfer strategies. He has more than twenty years experience implementing sophisticated wealth transfer techniques to privately held middle market companies. Mr. Sullivan earned his BA in Business Economics at the University of California in 1978 and his MS Taxation from Golden Gate University in 1981. He has specialized training and credentials in valuation, forensic accounting, fraud investigation/techniques, insurance and real estate. He is also a licensed Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) holding a Series 7 and applicable state securities licenses.
No Agenda or Materials posted.