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.

 

Q&A with Suzanne Reed, CFE

Suzanne Reed of Kentucky received her CFE credential this year after studying with the CFE Exam Prep Course. Suzanne believes her new CFE credential, along with her experience working in the anti-money laundering field as a Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) officer, will put her a step above the rest. When Suzanne is not working, she enjoys traveling.

Coach: When did you receive your CFE credential?

Reed: I was certified January 2018.

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

Reed: The Prep Course was instrumental to passing the test. I was familiar with parts of the Prep Course, but there were concepts that were foreign to me (for example, health care fraud and interrogating suspects). The way I prepared with the software worked very well for me and saved a lot of time. If I had read the Fraud Examiners Manual, it would have taken me much longer to complete the test.

After I took the initial test to learn the order I should take the course, with the most familiar section being first, I began answering the questions as a whole. I could then see the parts of a section in which I really needed to focus my attention. For the concepts that I needed to put the most attention into, I pulled out the Fraud Examiners Manual and studied that content; then, I would continue with the questions with a better understanding of the material. Once I felt confident and was able to answer most of the Prep Course questions correctly, I took each timed practice exam. By doing this, I scored high enough on each practice test to meet ACFE’s Money-Back Pass Guarantee the first time and moved on to the next section of the test. I repeated this process until I completed all four sections.

Then, I began taking the exams in the reverse order I studied; the section I last studied was the first section that I took the exam on. The one mistake I realized after I took my first exam was that even though I would answer a Prep Course question correctly, I would not read the question’s explanation about the answer. There is a lot of useful information in the question explanation. It seemed that the majority of the questions I had while taking the exams were answered in the question explanation and not the actual question asked, so my best advice is to read the question explanation. As I worked my way through the exams, I answered all the Prep Course questions and read the explanations for each question; then, I focused on the sections where I answered questions incorrectly or felt uncertain about the material.

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

Reed: It helped me focus on the sections I needed more help on, and it saved me a ton of reading. It also helped me get a feel for the way the questions were going to be asked on the exam. The Prep Course was most helpful.

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

Reed: In reality, it took me only a couple of months to study, even though I had the Prep Course for eight or nine months. I began to study when I first received the course, but work became incredibly demanding, so I let the Prep Course sit on the back burner. The 90-day challenge was what I needed to make me finish. I had a family issue in the middle of the 90-day challenge, and I stopped studying regularly in the middle of it.

I studied at least five days a week, but sometimes I studied more. I dedicated at least 45 minutes to an hour each day, sometimes more.

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

Reed: I am a Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) officer at a bank, so I work in anti-money laundering (AML) and fraud all the time. When you look at job postings in the same field—at my level, along with experience—they usually ask for one or two certifications and one is the CFE certification.

Coach: Would you recommend this course to your colleagues?

Reed: Yes, for the knowledge, if nothing else. But it does help get your foot in the door if you have experience. If you do not have the experience, start at the bottom and work your way up. I started as a teller while pursuing my degree in accounting. I moved to deposit operations, and then I moved to the compliance department. If you prove your worth in every position, no matter how menial it seems, your effort will be noticed, and you will be delegated more responsibility. Managers always know who they can trust to do a good job with whatever they hand you, so do your best and don’t complain about the work you get. Just because you have a certification does not mean you automatically get a job; the certification is helpful in getting an interview and deciding among the other candidates who are in the running for a position. I work in banking, so if I applied for a position in health care, I would not expect to get that position just because I passed a test.

Coach: How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?

Reed: My interest began as a teller, and it spiked when I moved to card services and began working debit card disputes.

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?

Reed: I love to travel for fun, as well as attend conferences for work. I love to learn. When I learn something new, I consider it a good day.

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

Reed: Read the question explanation provided in each Prep Course question, and work diligently.

Q&A with Michele Barron, CFE

Michele Barron of Georgia recently became a CFE after attending a CFE Exam Review Course. Michele put some time aside to focus on accomplishing her goal of obtaining the CFE credential, as she believes that the CFE credential is a way to set herself apart from other auditors in her profession. The CFE credential identifies her specialization in fraud investigation and qualifies her skills and experience in that area. When Michele is not working, she enjoys taking mini weekend vacations with her husband.

Coach: When did you receive your CFE credential?
Barron:
I earned my CFE credential on May 25, 2018.

Coach: You attended the CFE Exam Review Course in Atlanta, Georgia; 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.
Barron:
The Atlanta experience was intense and well worth the effort. Each day focused on a different section of the Fraud Examiners Manual and included stories of the presenters’ experiences. The classroom experience helped transform the material from conceptual ideas and theories to practical applications in the field, making it easier to understand the manual and be successful on the test. It was an open classroom experience in which students could ask questions, request clarification on topics, and get assistance as needed. Then, each day ended with additional time to independently review the material before taking the test. All tests were available should the student need to retake a failed test or test on another section.

Coach: What did you like most about the CFE Exam Review Course?
Barron:
I liked the fact that the tests were written instead of being online. I felt more relaxed in this environment and appreciated the ability to answer the more challenging questions last and focus on the more familiar questions first. I also liked that the tests were scored immediately so that I could leave that evening knowing whether I passed, which allowed me to relax before resuming the CFE Exam Review Course the following day.

Coach: In what ways do you feel that your new CFE credential will be beneficial to you in your current profession?
Barron:
The CFE credential is a way to set myself apart from other auditors in my profession. The credential identifies my specialization in fraud investigation and qualifies my skills and experience in this area.

Coach: How did you prepare yourself to sit for the exam on-site? Did you spend any additional time studying after class each day? 
Barron:
I began studying the material three months prior to the CFE Exam Review Course. With the use of the CFE Exam Prep Course, I began by taking the preassessment test to see which areas I should focus on. I completed several of the review questions in each section and took practice tests for all four sections before attending the on-site review course. Then, after the daily classroom presentations, I scanned my notes from that day’s session for about 30 minutes before sitting for the exam.  
 
Coach: Would you recommend this course to your colleagues?
Barron:
I have already recommended the course to my colleagues. The course makes it easier to focus on and understand the material in the Fraud Examiners Manual and to set aside time to complete the examination without unnecessary distractions. The on-site review course is also a great way to network and meet others interested in fighting fraud throughout the state and federal government, as well as in private industry.

Coach: How did you become passionate about fighting fraud? 
Barron:
I was exposed to fraud early in my career with the IRS. Coordinating with fraud advisors and criminal investigators exposed me to a whole other area of investigations. I find working on cases that involve deliberate deceit and intentional actions more satisfying to resolve and get a feeling that justice has prevailed when individuals are held accountable for their actions.

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? 
Barron:
I am a travel enthusiast. When I am not traveling for work, my husband and I take mini vacations on weekends and plan big trips every couple of years. We have a bucket list of places throughout the world that we plan to visit. Unfortunately, the list seems to be growing faster than we’re checking things off. 
 
Coach: Do you have any study tips or suggestions for aspiring CFEs? 
Barron:
Take the time out of your busy day to accomplish this goal. Make a plan and modify it as necessary, but you must keep the test a priority. In the end, it will be worth your time and effort when your signed certificate arrives in the mail.

Q & A with Valerie Barcarse, CFE

Valerie Barcarse of California became a CFE this past April after studying with the CFE Exam Prep Course. Valerie believes that her new CFE credential will reinforce some of the skills she needs to do her work effectively and efficiently. When Valerie is not working, she enjoys cooking for others and reading.

Coach: When did you receive your CFE credential?

Barcarse: I received my CFE credential in April of 2018. 

 

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

Barcarse: The Prep Course software was very user-friendly. It was easy to navigate the course online to access the diagnostic test, individual review sections, and practice exams.

 

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

Barcarse: The practice exams were what I liked most about the Prep Course. I loved that the practice exams simulated the actual testing experience (e.g., exams were timed and the layout was the same), so when it came to exam day, there were no surprises.

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

Barcarse: It took me about two-and-a-half months to complete the Prep Course. I work full time, so I studied an hour to an hour and a half a day for at least five days during the week. I was averaging about a 90% on the practice exams, so I felt pretty confident going into the actual exam.

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

Barcarse: In my current profession, I conduct audits of businesses varying in size and industry. I am very fortunate to have been exposed to different projects and cases. Over the course of the past few years, the cases I've worked on have become increasingly complex, and I believe my new CFE credential will reinforce some of the skills I need to do my work effectively and efficiently.  

Coach:  Would you recommend this course to your colleagues?

Barcarse: Definitely! The Prep Course played a major role in me passing the exam on the first try. I'm an advocate for test-prep courses, and the CFE Exam Prep Course is no exception. The Prep Course features questions very similar to those on the actual exam, so I wasn't too anxious about unexpected test topics that might come up during exam day.  

Coach: How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?

Barcarse: As I mentioned earlier, I am an auditor. I have uncovered tax evasion and similar fraud on several cases I have worked on. Dishonest businesses tip the scales, and my passion for fighting fraud stems from my drive to do my job well; this means ensuring that there's a level playing field for businesses involved with tangible personal property (TPP) sales.  

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?

Barcarse: Reading is one of my favorite pastimes. My tastes are eclectic, so you can find me reading anything from Harper's Bazaar to the Harvard Business Review, and everything in between! When I'm not engrossed in a good read, I also enjoy cooking. I find it especially therapeutic to cook for other people. This past weekend, I tried out a new recipe for eggs Benedict, and my beau loved it!

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

Barcarse: Honestly, the best tip I have is to establish a study plan and stick to it. Figure out at what time during the day you can squeeze in your study time, and make it a habit to reserve that window of time specifically for studying. This means minimizing or eliminating distractions (i.e., silence your cell phone so you're not tempted to surf your social media accounts as soon as you get a notification that Susan tagged you in a funny meme) so you can create an environment conducive to learning. Starting a routine can be difficult, but maintaining it can be very rewarding.

Q & A with Tobin Craig, CFE

Tobin Craig of Maryland recently became a CFE after attending a CFE Exam Review Course. When Tobin is not working, he enjoys drumming, making wine
and, constructing model aircraft. However, this past fall, he put some time aside to focus on accomplishing his goal of obtaining the CFE credential. Tobin believes his new CFE credential will present interesting challenges for him in both his current position and the future.

Coach: When did you receive your CFE credential?
Craig: 
I was notified on April 11, 2018, that I had successfully completed the certification process. 

Coach: You attended the CFE Exam Review Course in Washington, D.C., 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.
Craig:
There is a lot to ingest over the four days! I learned early on that my best option for success was to make my learning environment as flexible as possible. For me, this meant abandoning the rows of tables; instead, I chose to camp out at the back wall at a standing table with a chair beside it. This gave me the option to stand, sit, or pace without being distracting to the class or claustrophobic. I found that definitely taking each set of exams at the end of the day to be preferential. There's a lot to absorb, so being able to focus on each topic and then test on it was really helpful. 

Coach: What did you like most about the CFE Exam Review Course?
Craig:
The things I liked the most were the fast pace of the material, the speakers being relevant and engaging, and the fact that they did a great job of corralling a really large group of people! I also enjoyed meeting new people over lunch. I took the class by myself, so I had two options: take lunch alone or meet new people. I'm glad I chose the latter; I had some great discussions with a number of people from all walks of life.

Coach:  In what ways do you feel that your new CFE credential will be beneficial to you in your current profession?
Craig:
My background is in forensic science; I began as a chemist, then became a document examiner and, more recently, moved to computer forensics. I was initially skeptical of how this would augment my career path of more than 20 years, but I've recently transitioned into a field that is more aligned with investigations involving big data. In looking through Fraud Magazine recently, I was really surprised to learn just how far fraud investigation extends, and now I'm excited that the lessons I'm learning in my new position, coupled with my experience in computer investigations, will present interesting new challenges for me, both now and in the future.

Coach: How did you prepare yourself to sit for the exam on-site? Did you spend any additional time studying after class each day?
Craig:
I found that my professional experience helped me tremendously during the exams. Sure, there are some things that you simply have to learn, like the names of specific laws and such, but I also found that much of my experience (especially with prior courtroom testimony) helped me navigate much of the exam process. You can never fully prepare for exams like these, so I chose instead to absorb as much as I could during the review course to augment my experiences. 

Coach: Would you recommend this course to your colleagues?
Craig:
I definitely would! It’s a great challenge.

Coach: How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?
Craig:
I've been involved in the fight against crime in a number of formas for more than 20 years. Fraud can be considered less exciting than other forms of criminal investigation, but when you look at it in terms of fraud’s negative impact on people’s lives, then it lights a fire. 

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?
Craig:
When I'm not working on a keyboard, I enjoy drumming, making wine, and WW2 model aircraft construction. It sounds strange, but there's something almost Zen-like about knowing the only thing I have to take care of some nights is painting a scale model spitfire or something . . . it takes my mind off computers! I'm also finishing a Master's program in Forensic Computing and Cybercrime Investigation in Dublin, Ireland. When that's done, I'm going to embark on learning some new programming skills. I'm a big fan of open source tools, and I like seeing how much I can accomplish just from a Linux command line.

Coach: Do you have any study tips or suggestions for aspiring CFEs?
Craig:
The only thing I can suggest is to jump in and do it! Don't panic that you don't know everything; no one does. Do the best you can–you might be pleasantly surprised. I know I was!