Q&A with Greg Burri, CFE

Greg Burri of Ohio recently became a CFE after attending a CFE Exam Review Course. Greg began his career in law enforcement, but, as his career progressed, he realized the damage that is caused by white-collar crime. So, this past fall, Greg put some time aside to focus on accomplishing his goal of obtaining his CFE credential. Having the CFE credential has given Greg the same sense of accomplishment in uncovering a complex fraud as he once felt catching a bad guy in a foot chase. When Greg is not working, he enjoys hiking, biking, and kayaking.

Coach: When did you receive your CFE credential?

Burri: I received my CFE credential in September 2018.

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

Burri: My experience was fairly intense. I don’t want to put anyone off, but you really have to stay focused during the Review Course and for the exam each day. It’s not overwhelming, though. If you’re successful enough to need the CFE credential, you can do it.

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

Burri: It matched my style of learning. I am a more auditory and visual learner; I can’t just sit down and read a book and learn the material very well. Having someone explain the content was very helpful. It also helped to have the topics organized and condensed.

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

Burri: I have rarely seen jobs posted in the private sector where a credential was not required or preferred for fraud investigation positions. Often, the CFE credential is used as an example of a preferred credential, and it can be applied to a number of industries. There are credentials for more specific fraud types, but the CFE credential is well-regarded as being fundamental.

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

Burri: I did attempt the CFE Exam Prep Course, but it wasn’t as helpful to me as was my background in law enforcement. My experience in law enforcement prepared me for the Law and Investigation sections of the CFE Exam, in addition to the Review Course.

I think there was only one day that I went over notes between the Review Course and the CFE Exam. There is a lot of information to absorb, and I didn’t feel that cramming was advantageous.

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

Burri: Yes, I think the Review Course makes you substantially more prepared.

Coach: How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?

Burri: I began my career in law enforcement, and a lot of people in that field are looking for high-speed excitement. Admittedly, I, too, was looking for that excitement to some degree. As my career progressed, I realized the damage that could be done by white-collar crime and the lack of resources in this area. Also, I found a similar sense of accomplishment in uncovering a complex fraud as I did in catching a bad guy in a foot chase.

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?

Burri: I love outdoor activities and hiking, kayaking, and biking. It’s the balance I need for sitting in front of a computer for forty hours a week.

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

Burri: You should really evaluate what kind of a learner you are. Think about your previous academic successes and failures, and then apply that to studying for the CFE Exam. There is no one way to study.

Q&A with Abdullah Mansour, CFE

Abdullah Mansour of Saudi Arabia received his CFE credential this past year after studying with the CFE Exam Prep Course. When Abdullah is not working in his position at a leading health insurance company, he enjoys managing an educational YouTube channel for children and designing coffee-themed T-shirts. Abdullah feels that his new credential has helped him improve his professional skills, and he believes it has afforded him new opportunities to invest in his career.

Coach: When did you receive your CFE credential?

Mansour: I sat for the CFE Exam and received my CFE credential in April 2018.

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

Mansour: The Prep Course is a valuable source that is designed in an instructive way to help one learn; it enriched my knowledge. Also, the Prep Course develops skills and strategies to pass the exam.

The Prep Course is organized in three modules:

  • Optional Pre-Assessment Test (100 questions): This test evaluated my strengths and weaknesses. As a person in health care with a medical-knowledge background and health insurance experience, the Law and Financial Transactions and Fraud Schemes sections were the areas I liked the most, but Investigation and Fraud Prevention and Deterrence were the sections I performed strongest in.

  • Review Sessions: These sessions consist of four sections with questions for review. I started with my stronger sections as the Prep Course advised. In Law and Financial Transactions and Fraud Schemes, I started with quick reading for each chapter from the Fraud Examiners Manual before going through the review session questions. I want to clarify something regarding my quick reading in the areas I lack knowledge: I believe that quickly reading a chapter several times is more valuable than reading at a slower pace once or twice. Also, it is best to write down notes, especially in the Law section.

  • Practice Exams (400 questions): These practice exams simulate the actual CFE Exam environment. I completed each practice exam immediately after finishing the corresponding review session, and then I repeated each practice exam two to three times on the day before the real exam.

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

Mansour: I liked the design of the course and how it starts by spotting and evaluating an individual’s weaknesses and strengths; it then takes you through each review session and ends with a simulated exam environment. This order is logical, natural, and vital in gaining the knowledge to pass the exam.

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

Mansour: I began studying in December 2017. It took me almost four months to study. Of my studying, 70% of it was for Law and Financial Transactions and Fraud Schemes. I studied an average of ten hours per week.

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

Mansour: I am working for the leading health insurance company in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Middle East. All that I learned in my journey to becoming a CFE has added to my capability and skills in investigations, meetings, analyses, and reports, which will support the quality of my work. Being certified from a highly credible organization makes me proud and confident. My CFE credential gives me a broader scope and new opportunities to invest in my career. I now can apply for vacancies worldwide or even become a one-of-a-kind ACFE Authorized Trainer.

Coach: Would you recommend this course to your colleagues?

Mansour: For sure, and I already did recommend this course. It is one of the best investments I have made in my career.

Coach: How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?

Mansour: I started my health insurance career in 2010 as a claims officer, and I became passionate about fighting fraud in my first days as I began to notice signs of manipulation and fraud in some claims. Within a short amount of time, and after flagging many fraud cases, I was promoted to senior positions, and then to medical audit manager. Currently, I am a rules manger looking for automation and digitalization of processes, which has made me more passionate in how to involve artificial intelligence in fraud fighting activities.

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?

Mansour: For fun, I am managing a YouTube channel named Healthcare and Life. I present some educational videos for children in this channel, and I tackle one of the most important topics nowadays, which is healthy food. In addition, I share videos about interesting destinations, nature, and eye-catching incidents that happen on a daily basis. I also make t-shirt designs that I sell online. What I find interesting about my hobbies is that they make me feel happy and relaxed, and, at the same time, it is a sort of help to others. Last but not least, one of the most precious moments of my day is drinking coffee, as well as preparing a couple of cups for some mates. In fact, I adore smelling coffee; I think I am addicted to coffee! I even started designing some coffee-themed shirts.

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

Mansour: Always start with the easier sections, whether in studying, reviewing, or taking the CFE Exam. Always scan your topic before doing the real studying. Take notes on any difficult points to be reviewed later.

Q & A with Stephanie Ziegler, CFE

Stephanie Ziegler of Oregon recently became a CFE after attending the CFE Exam Review Course. When Stephanie is not working, she loves to read and travel with her husband. She also has a passion for sports. But a couple a months ago, she put some time aside to focus on accomplishing her goal of obtaining the CFE credential. Stephanie feels that the concepts she learned while studying to be a CFE are fundamental in her efforts to create a fraud risk management program at the credit union where she works. She also feels that the information she learned has influenced her work as a fraud investigator and witness in legal cases.

Coach: When did you receive your CFE credential?

Ziegler: I was officially awarded the credential on November 8, 2018.

Coach: You attended the CFE Exam Review Course in New York and following the course you sat for the CFE Exam on-site. Please describe your experience of participating in the four-day course and then sitting for the exam immediately after.

Ziegler: Participating in the on-site course and then taking the test afterward created a completely immersive atmosphere. I was able to spend each day reviewing a section and focusing on areas that I wanted to improve in, and then I would study and test that new knowledge. I didn’t have to worry about forgetting to study a certain concept because the instructors covered all aspects of each section. And I like the way the course is structured; as you progress through the days, the concepts begin building off of one another, and you see how different areas of fraud are similar. This helps when taking the test.

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

Ziegler: I found the four-day course to be extremely helpful. I had been studying on my own using the CFE Exam Prep Course, but having the ability to ask questions and discuss concepts with other attendees increased my comfort level with some of the more difficult concepts. I saw an increase of at least 5% on my official exam scores over my practice tests, and I attribute that directly to my on-site experience.

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

Ziegler: I work for a credit union and focus on fraud and the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). We are currently building our fraud risk management program, and the concepts that I have learned while studying to be a CFE are fundamental in creating that program in our institution. Additionally, what I learned has influenced my work as a fraud investigator and witness in legal cases.

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

Ziegler: I began by studying with the CFE Exam Prep Course, and I used that to become familiar with the concepts and format of the CFE Exam. Once I was in New York for the CFE Exam Review Course, I used the Prep Course to prepare myself for the section that was to be reviewed the following day. Each night I would take a practice test for the next day’s section, and then I would take the practice test again in the morning before class began. That was helpful because I could see what areas I was weaker in on the practice tests, and I knew to focus on those throughout the day when I had the opportunity to ask questions. If needed, I took another practice test at lunch or reviewed topics with other attendees.

Coach: Would you recommend this course to your colleagues?

Ziegler: I absolutely would recommend this course. I felt like the CFE Exam Prep Course gave me a great knowledge base for the exam, but the on-site CFE Exam Review Course took the learning experience to the next level. The benefits of in-person instruction were essential for me.

Coach: How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?

Ziegler: I have wanted to work in fraud since I began working for financial institutions over 15 years ago. It seemed like a fascinating and ever-evolving area to be in. I have been working fraud cases for almost six years now and still love it every day. I love the complexity of fraud and the challenge that it presents. I also love being able to help people who have been the victims of fraud. It is very rewarding to be someone who they can trust and rely on while they are going through such a difficult time.

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?

Ziegler: I am a constant learner. I love to read and travel with my husband. I also love sports; I’ll watch almost anything, but I’m most passionate about NCAA football, women’s basketball, and Major League Baseball. Education and literacy are extremely important to me, so I spend time volunteering with local schools and organizations that focus on improving education and literacy in my community.

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

Ziegler: I don’t think one could over-prepare for these exams. I found it most important to set aside a specific amount of time to study throughout my day; otherwise, it was easy for me to tell myself that I’d just get to it later, but then that wouldn’t happen. Also, once you’re on-site taking the course, go for it and take the test, even though it’s optional! The information is fresh in your mind, and there is no downside to trying!

Q & A with Stephen Enebeli Annan, CFE

Stephen Enebeli Annan of Ghana recently became a CFE by studying with the CFE Exam Prep Course. When Stephen is not working, he enjoys watching soccer, preaching, and listening to gospel music. But this year, he put some time aside to focus on accomplishing his goal of obtaining the CFE credential. Stephen feels that the CFE credential has given him a new paradigm, as well as the knowledge and professional skill set required to prevent, deter, and detect fraud. As an auditor at a practice firm, the CFE credential aids him in working effectively and efficiently to deliver improved fraud risk management and tailored solutions to his clients.

Coach: When did you receive your CFE credential?

Annan: I received my CFE credential on March 29, 2018.

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

Annan: I had a great experience using the Prep Course as a one-stop shop for the CFE Exam. It was very user-friendly and well-tailored with an exam-focused approach. In fact, it demystifies the voluminous Fraud Examiners Manual by shoring knowledge and honing the skills necessary for the exam and eventual practice in a holistic manner.

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

Annan: I liked the timeline of deadlines and achievements, as it allowed me to set dates of completion and track the completion rate for myself, and the practice exam, which simulates the CFE Exam.

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

Annan: It took me about three months to complete the Prep Course. I challenged myself and studied with the Prep Course for at least an hour every day after work, and I spent a little more time reviewing the Prep Course on weekends.

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

Annan: I feel that the CFE credential has given me a new paradigm, as well as the knowledge and professional skill set required to prevent, deter, and detect fraud. As an auditor in a practice firm, the CFE credential aids me in working effectively and efficiently to deliver improved fraud risk management and tailored solutions to clients.

Coach: Would you recommend this course to your colleagues?

Annan: Definitely. Yes, I will recommend the Prep Course to my colleagues!

Coach: How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?

Annan: I realized I started becoming passionate about fighting fraud during my formative years when I noticed that I disliked, with utter passion, seeing or hearing of willful acts of deceit by psychopathic and sociopathic snakes in suits and ties and the unscrupulous individuals who denied many of the resources meant for them, thereby negatively affecting the lives of other people. I always wished to help make such persons accountable for their actions and to help prevent similar actions from happening again in the future by creating awareness of such schemes. This passion was fueled during the days when I was pursuing my first degree at the university; I engrossed myself in forensic accounting research in anticipation of my dissertation, but then I nosedived into the anti-fraud and anti-corruption fight. Not to mince words, but fraud is becoming an industry, and anti-fraud fighters must be up to the task of fighting this canker, which is the bane of development. Ever since then, my passion for fighting fraud has been unabated.

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?

Annan: I listen to good gospel music. At times I watch soccer, and other times I conduct research about socioeconomic issues. I also love to preach, share the gospel, and assist people whenever the opportunity presents itself.

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

Annan: Build a study plan and stick to it. As you have decided to pursue this prestigious certification, be committed to the plan. Set realistic timelines for your studies and avoid procrastination. Take about two to four practice tests. Remember, a champion does not give up at any point during a race, so keep on keeping on. You can make this happen. Be a CFE.

Q & A with Jacob Goldwire

Jacob Goldwire of North Carolina recently became a CFE after attending a CFE Exam Review Course. When Jacob is not working, he enjoys golfing, coaching his son’s little league team, and spending time with his family. But, this past August, he put some time aside to focus on accomplishing his goal of obtaining the CFE credential. Jacob made obtaining his CFE certification a priority because he believes the credential will help him achieve his educational, professional, and career goals. 

Coach: When did you receive your CFE credential?

Goldwire: September 12, 2018

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

Goldwire: The ACFE CFE Exam Prep Course was pivotal preparation for me prior to attending the CFE Exam Review Course and taking the CFE Exam. I reviewed the majority of the material approximately one and a half months prior to attending the live course, so the Review Course reinforced what I had already reviewed and prepared for at home. In addition, the course provided specificity of what would be discussed and tested on each day, which meant I had to focus on only one area of the exam at a time. I think anyone who is serious about attaining their CFE certification should attend the CFE Exam Review Course.

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

Goldwire: I think the best parts of the CFE Exam Review Course were the specificity given to each part of the exam review and the ability to take the written exam immediately following that day’s review. The course allowed maximum retain ability for each section of the exam due to each day focusing on only one portion of the overall exam material. The two instructors were awesome in providing vital instruction on how to focus on the volume of material being presented and the specific information highlighted throughout each day before taking each section of the CFE Exam. Providing meals, snacks, and beverages throughout each day was tremendously helpful in providing a respite from the stress of each day’s review and test.

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

Goldwire: I have spent most of my career as a Special Agent, US Army CID, in specialized units, with the majority of my investigative time spent in Acquisition/Procurement Fraud and Economic Crimes Investigations. Receiving my CFE certification was the next logical step in pursuing the next level of educational, professional, and career progressions. Aside from the financial benefits the certification can afford, it is the additional educational and professional courses, taught by some of the leading experts in the field, that made attaining this certification a priority for my overall professional career. My current assignment as the Law Enforcement Subject Matter Expert (SME) for the US Army Special Operations Command, Commander’s Oversight Review Board (CORB), provides the organization yet another sharpened tool to utilize in support of the dynamic mission this organization engages in daily.

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

Goldwire: My organization purchased the CFE Exam Prep Course for me about two months prior to the date of the course. Once I received the course material, I took a practice test in each of the sections to get a baseline on my grasp of the information. I passed some of the sections but struggled with others. The areas I had the most difficulty with were the ones I concentrated my daily and weekly reviews on prior to attending the course. I tried not to overwhelm myself with attempting to complete an entire section in one sitting; I would usually review one hundred or so questions and then take a practice test to see if I was progressing. As a result of this study method, by the time the CFE Exam Review Course arrived, I had passed every section at least once. This method allowed me the flexibility to fully concentrate on what was being presented during the live course because I had already acquired a baseline understanding of the volume of material and the types of questions I would potentially see on the actual exam.

Coach: Would you recommend this course to your colleagues?

Goldwire: I would strongly encourage my colleagues to take the course and pursue the certification. It is not only beneficial while still serving in an Active Duty position, but it is also beneficial once folks like me retire or move on to seek a civilian profession outside of the military. Most of the Supervisory Special Agents, like myself, who have worked for any length of time in Acquisitions or Economic Crimes see this certification as one of the most important credentials an agent can receive outside of their agency’s badge and credentials.

Coach: How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?

Goldwire: As mentioned previously, most of my investigative experience has been focused on or centered around acquisitions, procurement fraud, and economic crimes. Initially, I was not all that excited about fraud and fraud investigations until I realized the level of complexity, amount of financial damage, and frequency in which fraud or fraudulent activities occur within the U.S. government and financial institutions. Some of the best investigations on which I have worked, solved, and assisted the government in recouping stolen money or property have been related to some level of fraud, embezzlement, procurement fraud, or other white-collar crime—in some cases, on a global level. On the surface, fraud investigations might seem mundane and very boring to an outsider, but to those of us who specialize in or have worked on these types of investigations, they can be exciting, dangerous, and rewarding all at the same time.

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?

Goldwire: I’m an avid golfer (nine handicap), so when I’m not working, coaching my son’s little league football team, or spending time with my family, I’m on the golf course working to improve my game. Much like attaining educational and professional education when it comes to fraud, in golf, I’m always seeking ways to more effectively and efficiently get that little white ball in the hole.

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

Goldwire: I would recommend purchasing the CFE Exam Prep Course material as early in the process as possible. If utilized properly, it provides you with all the materials and tools you will need in preparation for the CFE Exam. In my opinion, taking advantage of the CFE Exam Review Course in conjunction with the study material almost guarantees success on the CFE Exam the first time you take it. By no means am I saying it will be easy; even with dedicated preparation, the examination itself can be a tremendous mental drain. However, I do feel that studying with the CFE Exam Prep Course and attending the CFE Exam Review Course allowed me to achieve first-time success and attain my coveted CFE certification.