Q&A with Tarun Mittal, CFE

Tarun Mittal of India received his CFE credential this past summer after studying with the CFE Exam Prep Course. Mittal is in the banking and finance industry and preventing fraud at the various levels of his organization is important to him. He says earning the CFE credential provides him an edge and authenticity.

Coach: When did you receive your CFE credential?

Mittal: I was certified in July 2019.

Coach: Please describe your experience using the CFE Exam Prep Course?

Mittal: The Prep Course is one of the most customized tools for making one familiar with the CFE syllabus. It builds one’s confidence upon learning and understanding the various concepts and the course’s content. Reading the full Fraud Examiners Manual is a tough task, which is why the Prep Course is one of the finest programs to become familiar with what CFE is all about.

Coach: What did you like most about the Prep Course?

Mittal: 1. The variety of questions asked during the practice tests and the explanations of the various topics under the answers of the Review Sessions.

2. The capability of the Prep Course helps in accessing it and studying and practicing at any time. As it is said, “practice makes perfect.” Accessing the Prep Course at any time is beneficial to building confidence.

3. The Prep Course provides practice tests with timed questions. This helps with keeping track of reducing the time it takes to answer each question leading up to the actual CFE Exam.

Coach: How long did it take you to complete the Prep Course?

Mittal: I accepted the April–June 2019 90-Day Challenge and passed the CFE Exam well within the challenge’s timeframe. I purchased the Prep Course on March 15, 2019, and I took the first CFE Exam on May 19, 2019. I passed the final CFE Exam in June 2019.

Coach: In what ways do you feel that your new CFE credential will be beneficial to you in your current profession?

Mittal: I am working as an assistant director, Credit/Risk and Investment, at SAARC Development Fund (SDF) in Thimphu, Bhutan. SDF is a regional financial institution and project financing is the core activity. As a risk professional, I constantly adopt the approach to conduct robust credit appraisals and involve in the most professional risk management activities by writing credit memorandums for the sanctioning of the various project finance proposals for SDF Management. Getting the CFE credential provides an edge, authenticity, and professionalism in the various activities I undertake at SDF. and now the same is reflecting in my day-to-day work.

Coach: Would you recommend the Prep Course to your colleagues?

Mittal: Yes, definitely. In fact, I would strongly recommend reading the Fraud Examiners Manual, if needed, along with the Prep Course to clear various doubts and build confidence for each and every topic of the CFE Exam content.

Coach: How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?

Mittal: During the last 14 years, while working in the banking and finance industry, I have been working on the areas that cover credit and risk management. In bank finance, under the entire life cycle of financing, loans, and advances, fraud can occur at any stage resulting in severe financial losses to financial institutions. This not only leads to financial losses but also the reputational and operational loss for the organization. Preventing the fraud at the various levels of financing and in the organization is important for me to perform my job in the most efficient and professional manner.

Coach: Now that we know what you do professionally, what do you like to do for fun and what do you find enjoyable about it?

Mittal: As the Fraud Examiner, I enjoy knowing that my profession helps me in becoming a prudent and vigilant citizen of the country.

Coach: Do you have any study tips or suggestions for aspiring CFEs?

Mittal: After you purchase the Prep Course, adjust your target dates for completing each Review Session of the respective section and start taking the tests for the completed section.

• Build the confidence on the concepts, start preparing for the Practice Test.

• On the Practice Tests start scoring above 80%.

• Download the Fraud Examiner Manual and other study apps for their all-time access.

• Once you start scoring repeatedly between 95%-100% , you should think of writing the actual exam.

This way , chances are high to clear the CFE Exam well within 90 days.

Q&A with Elizabeth Bourgeois

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Elizabeth Bourgeois of Louisiana received her CFE credential this past spring after attending a CFE Exam Review Course. Bourgeois feels that the CFE credential has enhanced her credibility as a financial examiner. When Bourgeois is not working, she spends a great deal of time as a volunteer banding waterfowl and assisting in attaching telemetry units to migrating ducks and geese.

Coach: When did you receive your CFE credential?

Bourgeois: I was certified as a fraud examiner in May 2019.

Coach: You attended the CFE Exam Review Course in Washington, DC, and following the course you sat for the CFE Exam on-site. Please describe your experience of participating in the four-day course and sitting for the exam immediately afterward.

Bourgeois: Even though I had practiced on the CFE Exam Prep Course and received high marks prior to testing, I still wanted to attend the Review Course. I’m very glad that I did because the interaction with the instructors and other students was of great value. I have a background in forensics and regulatory compliance, but there were a lot of things that the course covered that I had never worked with before. The instructors were awesome at relating the information, and that was crucial in making the concepts stick. Also, there was such a diverse group of people attending the class, which made for great feedback and multiple perspectives.

Coach: What did you like most about the CFE Exam Review Course?

Bourgeois: The instructors! How they were able to take this type of material and make it so interesting and relatable was awesome. A lot of the stuff we covered is not necessarily interesting, if you get my drift. They were able to teach these concepts in such an entertaining way. I’ve attended many training schools in the past that were provided by regulatory agencies, but none were ever as lively and enjoyable as the Review Course in Washington, DC.

Coach: In what ways do you feel that your new CFE credential will be beneficial to you in your current profession?

Bourgeois: It certainly enhances my credibility. The moment someone hears “Certified Fraud Examiner,” you can see a change in their posture. It conveys a seriousness and a sense of authority.

Coach: How did you prepare yourself to sit for the exam on-site? Did you spend any additional time studying after class each day?

Bourgeois: I took the online Prep Course beforehand. I immediately took the test each day after class. I was well prepared after the day’s lecture.

Coach: Would you recommend the Review Course to your colleagues?

Bourgeois: Absolutely, I will recommend this course to my colleagues.

Coach: How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?

Bourgeois: I went to work as a bank examiner the Monday after I graduated from college. I loved it! Every audit was a new challenge. It’s like solving a psychological thriller—only with financial clues!

Coach: Now that we know what you do professionally, what do you like to do for fun, and what do you find enjoyable about it?

Bourgeois: I spend a great deal of time as a volunteer banding waterfowl and assisting in attaching telemetry units to migrating ducks and geese. I get to touch a lot of wild birds who fly over 10,000 miles a year. It’s pretty amazing.

Coach: Do you have any study tips or suggestions for aspiring CFEs?

Bourgeois: Pay attention to your instructors; they are the backbone of getting you through this.

 

Q&A with Edward Ofori, CFE

Edward Ofori of Finland became a CFE after preparing for the CFE Exam with the CFE Exam Prep Course. Ofori became interested in fraud when someone close to him fell victim to a Ponzi scheme, giving Ofori the desire to pursue a career in fighting fraud. So this last year, Ofori put aside some time to focus on accomplishing his goal of obtaining his CFE credential. Ofori says obtaining the CFE credential has given him the authority to make recommendations concerning fraud-related issues to his employer. When Ofori is not working, he enjoys watching football and spending time with his friends and family.

Coach: When did you receive your CFE credential?

Ofori: I received my CFE credential on May 25, 2018.

Coach: Please describe your experience using the CFE Exam Prep Course.

Ofori: My experience using the Prep Course was phenomenal. I was a member of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners for almost a year, and when I decided to take the CFE Exam, the Prep Course gave me a smooth passage in reaching my desired destination.

Coach: What did you like most about the CFE Exam Prep Course?

Ofori: I consider the Prep Course a passport with valuable information that helped me pass the CFE Exam on my first attempt. The structure of the Prep Course is very clear and simple, and it articulates the most important points and covers the vital concepts from the Fraud Examiners Manual.

Coach: How long did it take you to complete the Prep Course, and how often did you study?

Ofori: It took me about two months to complete the Prep Course, which included studying all four sections of the course and taking the practice test for each section three times. I studied almost two hours every day.

Coach: In what ways do you feel that your new CFE credential will be beneficial to you in your current profession?

Ofori: Obtaining the CFE credential has given me so much authority in making recommendations concerning fraud-related issues to my employer, and I am now being respected as an expert with in-depth knowledge about fraud.

Coach: Would you recommend the Prep Course to your colleagues?

Ofori: There is no doubt in my mind when it comes to using the Prep Course because it is filled with priceless information, and the simplicity of its structure made it easy for me to learn. So, yes, I would recommend the Prep Course to my colleagues who want to obtain the CFE credential.

Coach: How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?

Ofori: My desire to fight fraud was born out of the damage I experienced with close family relations who fell victim to Ponzi schemes in Ghana. The many lives, dreams, and futures that were destroyed by investing in Ponzi schemes gave me the desire to pursue a career in fighting fraud.

Coach: When you’re not fighting fraud, what do you like to do for fun, and what do you find enjoyable about it?

Ofori: I have a passion for football. I support Manchester United, so when I am not working, I spend time with my friends and family watching football and analyzing the games.

Coach: Do you have any study tips or suggestions for aspiring CFEs?

Ofori: My advice to aspiring CFEs is that it pays to fight fraud; the joy you feel when you uncover a fraud that could have damaged a company or people’s lives is incalculable. When studying, try to understand the concepts very well. Memorizing the answers in the Prep Course will not be the right approach because, though similar, the questions are not the same.

Q&A with Amelia Tercero, CFE

Amelia Tercero of California received her CFE credential this past fall after studying with the CFE Exam Prep Course. Tercero found the Law section beneficial, especially learning the different types of fraud schemes and transactions, as she works in banking. Having the CFE credential has given Tercero more confidence and an urge to become a lawyer. In her free time, Tercero enjoys spending time with family and friends, as well as having some lazy days

Coach: When did you receive your CFE credential?

Tercero: I was certified on January 3, 2019. After I received my CFE certificate, I had it nicely framed! It’s all worth it, I promise!

Coach: Please describe your experience using the CFE Exam Prep Course.

Tercero: Originally, I was planning to do a thirty day online course plan. I had purchased the online Prep Course and later started using the online Fraud Examiners Manual—do browse the online Fraud Examiners Manual. But from October through December 2018, I participated in the ninety Day CFE Exam Challenge, which had great engagement and teamwork, along with participation in the forum.

The Prep Course is user-friendly and easy to navigate and understand. You will like that you can set your goal dates from start to completion. The tracker was motivating for me because you see your progression and have an idea of where you are and what to focus on, and you get to see your level of understanding of each concept. All of the review sessions and practice tests prepare you for the final exam and offer a lot of practice. There are plenty of questions in the bank to gain the knowledge for your final exam. You can practice as much as you want, and you can use the filter option to break down the topics from the main concepts. The Prep Course shows you your scored percentage, and it’s easy to understand.

The practice tests are timed, so keep track of your time before the final exam to see how long the test is taking you to complete and improve if you need to. Always take a practice test before your final exam, and review any key notes you prepared along the way that helped you. The final is a timed, closed-book exam.

Coach: What did you like most about the Prep Course?

Tercero: I liked the improvement tracker and how well it captures your individual knowledge. You put in what you expect out of it, and the score doesn’t lie.

Coach: How long did it take you to complete the Prep Course, and how often did you study?

Tercero: I studied 7 days a week, and I ramped up studying during the weekends. I read, reviewed, and reread. I completed the entire course on November 14, 2018, meaning all the review questions for all four sections. Then I began the practice tests in preparation, one at a time, before the final exam.

Coach: In what ways do you feel that your new CFE credential will be beneficial to you in your current profession?

Tercero: The Law section was crucial, especially learning the differences of civil versus criminal and federal versus state. The section tied into the Bank Secrecy Act, anti-money laundering, and types of fraud schemes and transactions that I had seen before in banking but more in-depth. The material contained emerging schemes, defined transactions, and auditing and investigating. The Law section applied to all industries, especially to financial services with added confidence toward the public sector, should I ever find myself on that route down the road—it made me want to be a lawyer!

Coach: Would you recommend the Prep Course to your colleagues?

Tercero: Yes, and I have been all along.

Coach: How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?

Tercero: Wow, I think that would be a book in itself. I have been exposed to fraud in so many ways, both externally and internally, having been in the financial services industry for so long. I have had the mentality that every day is an audit day.

I like innovation and open-mindedness, so now I am in the financial technology industry. My background consists of management, operations, compliance, some audit, accounting, sales, and taxation, both business and consumer. I liked risk management, too.

Coach: Now that we know what you do professionally, what do you like to do for fun, and what do you find enjoyable about it?

Tercero: I spend my free time with family, friends, and pets. I play piano, have lazy days, and travel when I can. I enjoy the beach—no wonder I couldn’t leave California. I have been picking up reading more than usual.

Coach: Do you have any study tips or suggestions for aspiring CFEs?

Tercero: Having a purpose in mind and knowing what you want in the end is important, so write it down. During your course of studying and learning, you will begin to think about it. You might not know it right away, although some do. For me it was to work in investigations and financial crimes in the financial services industry. I needed to specialize in a field where I could use my background and passion in fighting and preventing fraud to find out the why, where, when, how, and who.

I suggest looking at the resources and career Web pages on the ACFE’s website. I built my profile, added my résumé, joined my local chapter, and got acquainted with the types of jobs out there for CFEs. Coming across people that I otherwise would not have met is rewarding.

When studying, take breaks, walk/exercise, and breathe. It’s okay to sigh and get oxygen to the brain. Recoup and then get back to studying; your mind will be more alert. Learn what time is best for you to study, and try to be consistent with that time.

Q&A with Daniel Michener, CFE

Daniel Michener of Minnesota received his CFE credential this past fall after attending a CFE Exam Review Course.. Daniel feels that the CFE credential has opened his eyes to other areas of fraud he wouldn’t normally investigate and that it will help his credibility as an investigator. When Daniel is not working, he trains judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu because he enjoys the challenge of the workout. Daniel also enjoys playing the guitar and traveling.

Coach: When did you receive your CFE credential?

Michener: I received my CFE credential in August of 2018.

Coach: After attending the CFE Exam Review Course, you sat for the CFE Exam on-site. Please describe your experience of participating in the four-day course and sitting for the exam immediately afterward.

Michener: The four-day course and exam are incredibly quick and thorough. The instructors were fantastic at presenting the material and keeping the class moving along. I really enjoyed the training. I think the high-speed atmosphere forced me to focus on the material as I was more engaged. Taking the exams each day puts pressure on you to stay on task and follow along; it’s difficult to daydream!

Coach: What did you like most about the CFE Exam Review Course?

Michener: I thought the material was relevant and encompassed the spectrum of fraud topics. There was some material I was already comfortable with from my work, but I found most of the topics to be new concepts. So I enjoyed the challenge of learning new material.

Coach: In what ways do you feel that your new CFE credential will be beneficial to you in your current profession?

Michener: As a police officer, I am called to testify on cases. I believe the CFE credential will help in my credibility as an investigator and when I am called to present evidence in court. Second, the CFE credential has opened my eyes to other areas of fraud I don’t normally investigate. It has also given me the opportunity to connect with people in the private sector. Building partnerships between law enforcement and private enterprises is so important to serving the public overall. Law enforcement can’t do it alone, so those connections are needed.

Coach: How did you prepare yourself to sit for the exam on-site? Did you spend any additional time studying after class each day?

Michener: I had to take advantage of the breaks. I have never been a person who can simply read a chapter and then take a test on it; I need to take my notes and the readings and rewrite them. This type of drill was important in retaining and understanding key terms and concepts. I found that studying after each class was difficult. The days are long and you cram in so much material, so you need a break. That’s why I spent several months studying prior to taking the exam. My goals were to walk into the course feeling comfortable with the material and to tighten up any areas I was weak in.

Coach: Would you recommend this course to your colleagues?

Michener: I would recommend the Review Course because it will enhance your skills and reenergize you to approach your work when you get back home. It will open your eyes to a large field of study and the potential to become an expert in certain areas.

Coach: How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?

Michener: I actually became interested in money laundering several years ago. I never thought I would take this career path, but my interest in financial crimes pushed me into fraud investigations. I enjoy the challenge and learning new skills and techniques for my career. It is a tough subject and requires constant attention to details, but it is rewarding when you see the results and understand the nature of the case.

Coach: Now that we know what you do professionally, what do you like to do for fun and what do you find enjoyable about it?

Michener: I train judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Besides the intense workouts, it is always a challenge. No matter how good you get, there is always someone better. The pressure teaches you to relax during stressful moments and think your way through a problem. I also play some guitar, and I love to travel. I’ve been to Brazil, Morocco, Spain, Iceland, and England. I enjoy all of these activities because they force me to get out of my comfort zone and try new things.

Coach: Do you have any study tips or suggestions for aspiring CFEs?

Michener: Start early! Sign up for the Review Course as soon as you can and take the exams on the CFE Exam Prep Course. I knocked out the larger review sessions first, and then I did the practice exams. Because you can take the practice exams as many times as you want, I constantly drilled those—even after getting a passing grade. Also, seek out people who’ve taken the exam before and listen to their advice. I was fortunate that my supervisor and coworker had taken the exam before me. Their advice and tips were important, and they helped motivate me to take the exam seriously.