Q & A with Lyena Chong, CFE

Lyena Chong of Singapore recently became a CFE after studying with the CFE Exam Prep Course. When Lyena is not working, she enjoys reading and listening to classical music. This past April, Lyena put some time aside to pursue the CFE credential. Lyena says having the CFE credential helps her understand how a fraudster thinks and will better equip her to handle different types of fraud cases that come her way.

 

Coach: When did you receive your CFE credential?
Chong: I sat for the exam in March 2018 and received my CFE credential in April 2018.

Coach: Please describe your experience using the Prep Course?
Chong:
I liked the user-friendly interface of the Prep Course. From the Pre-assessment to the Practice Exams, it built up my knowledge step by step in the content areas I lacked the most. 

Coach:  What did you like most about the Prep Course?
Chong:
I loved the challenge of going through each timed Practice Exam and recognizing the same mistakes I have made numerous times. This helped me realize where my weaknesses were and what specific areas needed to be built up. At the same time, I built up my knowledge and skills in a well-rounded way.

Coach: How long did it take you to complete the Prep Course and how often did you study?
Chong:
I started to get serious in my preparation for the CFE Exam when I signed up for the CFE Exam 90-Day Challenge from October to December 2017. I received encouragement from the participants, who also shared their experiences. I applied others’ experiences to my personal scenario to see what worked the best for me. I was motivated every single day.

Coach: In what ways do you feel that your new CFE credential will be beneficial to you in your current profession?
Chong:
I feel that the CFE credential has equipped me with the professional skills to handle any fraud cases that might arise in the course of my employment. It helps me think more like a fraudster and recognize how people might commit fraudulent acts.

Coach: Would you recommend this course to your colleagues?
Chong:
Yes, I have already recommended it to my friend and ex-colleague and convinced her to purchase the Prep Course.

Coach: How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?
Chong:
I love to investigate, and I see challenges as fun, especially when you get to resolve them.

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?
Chong
: I love to read self-improvement books and enjoy listening to classical music.
I recommend that people study constantly and on a daily basis. Do not lose your hope. The CFE Exam can be easier when you know the topics well. 

Q & A with Mindy Mayfield, CFE

Mindy Mayfield of West Virginia recently became a CFE after attending the CFE Exam Review Course in Austin, TX. Mindy usually enjoys spending her free time traveling, but she recently devoted her time to accomplishing her goal of obtaining the CFE credential. Mindy feels her new credential will be beneficial as she plans and executes internal audits and investigations within her organization. She believes that having her CFE makes gaining individuals’ trust easier and building relationships quicker.

 

Coach: When did you receive your CFE credential?

Mayfield: I received my CFE credential on November 28, 2017.

Coach: You attended the CFE Exam Review Course in Austin 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.

Mayfield: For me, the CFE Exam Review Course felt like a mixture of being in the trenches preparing for a battle with my comrades and being on a slip-and-slide that is fast and fun. Sitting in one place for a long period of time was the hardest part, but in the end, it was incredibly worth it. I was confident going into the exams each day, made some awesome new friends, and ate some of the BEST lunches and snacks at any conference I have ever attended. And the best part—there was an unlimited supply of coffee!!!

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

Mayfield: Hands down, my favorite part of the review course was the ACFE faculty and staff. The instructors moved through the material quickly (and there is a lot of it) so that most of the information presented on the exam was covered, all the while providing real-life examples to aid in our understanding. The instructors were funny, engaging, and showed genuine interest in our successful completion of the exam. On the flipside, the staff were patient, kind, and helpful during the registration and grading process each day. When you are a long way from home and stressed over a four-day exam, it is comforting to be pointed in the right direction and to be offered reassurance along the way. 

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

Mayfield: The CFE credential indicates to those I encounter both inside and outside my organization that I possess high moral character, that I will act with professionalism and integrity, and that I have been trained to prevent, detect, and deter fraud. This in itself is beneficial as I plan and execute internal audits and investigations within my organization because gaining individuals’ trust is easier and building relationships is quicker. However, it is not just what the credential represents that is valuable, but the knowledge I gained while studying for the CFE Exam that has allowed me to develop a skill set that is very much needed within my organization and my profession as a whole.

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

Mayfield: To prepare for the on-site CFE Exam, I purchased the online CFE Exam Prep Course and followed the 90-day study plan outlined on the ACFE’s website. I spent about an hour after work studying each day, and I NEVER studied on the weekends. As I moved through the Prep Course, I took notes on the questions I answered incorrectly. This made it easy for me to quickly and easily review those items before each study session. I also made a reference list for acronyms and Latin terms used in the Law section for easy reference. The Prep Course made studying a breeze. I did not need to spend any extra time studying after class while at the review course.    

Coach: Would you recommend this course to your colleagues?

Mayfield: Yes! Of course! The review course is so much more than just a refresher before taking the exam and a chance to earn CPE credit. The review course fosters a sense of community and provides the opportunity to expand your network, both personally and professionally. Because I attended a review course, I was able to meet members of the ACFE faculty and staff. Being able to put faces with names at the ACFE is priceless and allows me to feel personally connected to the ACFE. And then, there were my classmates. What an exceptional group of people! Because of the diverse industries, experience levels, and geographical locations of the participants, the lunch conversations were never dull and friendships were formed. I am already looking at the ACFE calendar to determine which event to attend next and would most certainly encourage others to do so as well!

Coach: How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?

Mayfield: I like treasure hunts and puzzles, especially when they are challenging. At my previous employer, I participated in an engagement involving a small financial institution that allegedly assisted a client with a workers’ compensation fraud scheme and violated the Bank Secrecy Act. I found gathering the financial information, interviewing some of the individuals involved, and pulling the pieces together both interesting and satisfying. I have been hooked ever since!

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?

Mayfield: Travel. Travel. Travel. There is something truly exhilarating about submersing myself in a culture I have never experienced and trying all the new experiences my destination has to offer. The sights, sounds, smells, and flavors . . . ahhh . . . I’m ready! Let’s go!

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

Mayfield: Apply yourself!

 

Q & A with Nichole Rodriguez, CFE

Nichole Rodriguez of Colorado recently became a CFE after preparing with the CFE Exam Prep Course. When Nichole is not working, she enjoys camping, dining out, and going to the dog park with her dog. But this past fall, she put some time aside to focus on accomplishing her goal of obtaining the CFE credential.  Nichole says her new CFE credential has enabled her to better serve her clients. She has been able to implement new internal controls that have helped save her clients’ time and money by reducing their fraud risk.

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

Rodriguez: There are a lot of items I liked about the CFE Exam Prep Course.

a)    The ability to take and retake practice exams and knowing how I did at the end of each exam
b)    The ability to select questions missed via the practice exams to review later
c)    The checklist, which kept me on the right track and ensured I submitted everything prior to taking the exam
d)    The practice exams, which allowed me to narrow down areas I needed to study
e)    The calendar of achievements and deadlines, which allowed me to set dates of completion for myself

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

Rodriguez: To complete the Prep Course in its entirety, it took me roughly two months. I studied every night, while at work, early in the morning, and every weekend for three or more hours. My husband would quiz me on the material daily.

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

Rodriguez: CFE credential has helped me help my clients better than ever before. It has opened my eyes to a whole new way of thinking, as well as new ways fraudsters think. In addition to the ACFE community, I have a wonderful mentor who has helped guide me through my CFE journey.

I’ve been able to implement new internal controls learned through my CFE studies and my mentor. This has helped save my clients time and money by reducing their fraud risk. I look forward to additional doors my CFE credential will open in my career.

Coach: Would you recommend this course to your colleagues?

Rodriguez: Absolutely. I will recommend the Prep Course.

Coach: How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?

Rodriguez: There are many reasons I became passionate about fighting fraud, but I’ll provide two.

First, my husband’s identity was stolen three times. In order to protect ourselves, we had to think like a fraudster to help combat the many avenues that could be used to ruin my husband’s life. The research, fact finding, and thrill of catching these people made my heart race with excitement. I loved reading the case files and knowing I prepared a lot of the work that would one day bring these fraudsters to justice.

The second reason is my mentor. I was privileged to assist this individual in a small aspect of a fraud case. The excitement of organizing files, researching information, data entry, and analyzing data was intriguing. My mentor opened my eyes to a whole new world and introduced me to the ACFE. I joined the ACFE shortly after our discussion and decided to pursue my CFE credential. Not once have I regretted my decision to become a CFE and am truly blessed my mentor introduced me to this new world.

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?

Rodriguez: For fun, my husband and I spend time camping, dinning out, and going to the dog park with our dog, Whisper. My husband and I have been together for twenty-three years (high school sweethearts). He is my rock and my biggest supporter. The time we spend together is relaxing and fun.

Our dog keeps us on our toes, for she is a black Weimaraner and needs a lot of attention and love. While camping, we love to gaze up at the stars, looking for falling stars, the Big Dipper, and constellations.

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

Rodriguez:

o    It is OK to fail. We are all human, and life happens. Just get back up, and try again.
o    Budget time to study, and make an outline of what you’d like to study.
o    Take and retake the practice exams until you get a 95% each time.
o    Know the material. I can’t stress this enough.
o    Set deadlines of completion.
o    Ask someone to quiz you on the material studied.
o    Keep telling yourself, “I can do this,” and you will.

Finally, congratulations on your journey to becoming a Certified Fraud Examiner. I wish you well on your future endeavors.

Q & A with Stephanie Daniel

Stephanie Daniel of Arizona recently became a CFE after attending the CFE Exam Review Course in Austin, TX. When Stephanie is not working, she enjoys capturing interesting pictures and cycling. This past November, Stephanie put some time aside to pursue the CFE credential. Stephanie says having the CFE credential confirms her commitment to being the best she can be in her field as a financial crime investigation.

Coach: When did you receive your CFE credential?

Daniel: I received my credential in December 2017.

Coach: You attended the CFE Exam Review Course in Austin 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.

Daniel: I had previously attempted to take the exam via the self-directed prep course, but I was finding it difficult to truly dedicate the time to sit down and effectively walk through the material without getting distracted by life. The review course was a great way for me to be able to review the information in a setting where the instructors provided context and were able to answer clarifying questions. I could then take the section of the exam covered in the day’s lecture while it was still fresh in my mind. 

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

Daniel: The instructors! The materials they prepared and the flow of the lectures literally brought the exam to life. For someone like myself who does not have a CPA, their ability to break down the basic accounting concepts into other relatable examples made a huge difference for me.

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

Daniel:  While I have been in the financial crime investigation field for over 20 years, having the CFE credential reflects my commitment to being the best I can be in my field. Once I was able to update my LinkedIn profile with my credential, I actually received a number of communications from recruiters who had roles to fill that required a CFE.

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

Daniel: I did spend time at the conclusion of each day’s lecture (about an hour) going back through my notes and sections of the course handouts to shore up any areas where I felt a little shaky.

Coach: Would you recommend this course to your colleagues?

Daniel: I am a visual learner who can be easily distracted, so having dedicated time away from interruptions and work where instructors bring concepts to life was, quite frankly, the best option for me. I would absolutely recommend the course to colleagues! 

Coach: How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?

Daniel: Funny story – I never envisioned myself as a fraud fighter when I was in high school – I was more interested in something having to do with music or art. By chance, I got a job with American Express handling fraud authorization calls in my early 20s, and I was immediately smitten with the idea of outsmarting and catching the bad guys. I’ve been in the financial crime compliance field ever since.

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?

Daniel: I like to spend downtime with my camera capturing things that I find interesting, and I also spend a lot of time cycling. Both activities feed my soul and allow me to be my naturally introverted self.  

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

Daniel: Once you decided to pursue the certification, make the commitment and hold yourself accountable to the timeline you set for yourself. It is so easy to keep putting it off for another day, and that day turns into two, four, etc.

 

Q & A Dhawal Nayak, CFE

Dhawal Nayak of India recently became a CFE after preparing with the CFE Exam Prep Course. When Dhawal is not working, he enjoys traveling and capturing pictures of his city. But this past September, he put some time aside to focus on accomplishing his goal of obtaining the CFE credential.  Dhawal is the first individual at his firm to receive the CFE credential and he is proud. He feels that being a CFE will open new opportunities and increase the scope of his work, which will benefit his learnings in the field of forensics and fraud. 

Coach: When did you receive your CFE credential?
Nayak:
I cleared my CFE examination on the 25th of September, and I received my CFE credential on the 12th of October 2017.
 
Coach: Please describe your experience using the Prep Course.
Nayak:
In January 2017, I decided to be a member of the community and, after becoming a member, I purchased the Fraud Examiners Manual. Initially, I thought that it’s 2,000 pages and I would go through it and clear the examination. I even started with one module, and I won’t lie, it was a bit too difficult to go through all the pages. Moreover, I also used to get emails from the CFE Examination Community wherein everyone who cleared the examination preferred the CFE Prep Course. I was in a dilemma whether to purchase the course or not, and on one fine day I decided to purchase the Prep Course.

As we all know, the Prep Course is divided into three parts:

a. Pre-Assessment Examination:
This is just an overall evaluation of your basic general knowledge and it tests your basic understanding regarding the subjects covered in the course with 100 questions. The best part is it shows in which subject you are strong and in which subject you require more work. 
 
b. Review Sessions:
The ACFE recommends that the subject in which your pre-assessment score is highest should be completed first, and I totally agree with their study strategy. During the review sessions, I prepared hand-written notes (which I will get back to soon). In my hand-written notes, I wrote down the questions that I found difficult and questions in which conceptual clarity was required. Along with that, the hand-written notes also included some important or difficult words that were hard for me to understand.
 
I used my hand-written notes for reference every once in a while, whenever I got some time and didn’t want to turn my computer on and study the Prep Course. I also went through my notes before the examination. I would recommend that people who are undergoing the review course to prepare some notes while studying the review sessions.
 
Now, coming back to the preparation of the hand-written notes, I think I made a mistake by writing down the notes. The easy solution would have been making a document file of the same as it will save a lot of time, plus you can store it in your mobile and refer to it while traveling or even while having a coffee.
 
c. Practice Exams:
Practice Exams are the best part of the entire Prep Course. You can take the practice exams once all the questions in the review sessions are answered correctly. It really tests your knowledge, moreover, it boosts your confidence. Over and above that, if you score more than 85% in all the practice exams, you are eligible for the Money Back Pass Guarantee.
 
Coach:  What did you like most about the Prep Course?
Nayak:
The entire course is designed practically, so it makes preparing for the exam simple. The best thing for me was the practice exams. It helped me boost my confidence regarding the preparation. Initially, I scored around 75% in the practice exams, but then I analysed where I went wrong and rectified it, and at the end I scored above 90%. If there wasn’t the section of practice exams, it would have been a bit tough for me.

Coach: In what ways do you feel that your new CFE credential will be beneficial to you in your current profession?
Nayak:
I work in a firm that does forensic investigation. As of today in my organisation, I am the only one who holds the CFE and I feel proud for the same. The CFE credential will open new opportunities for me, and of course, increase the scope of my work, which will benefit my learnings in the field of forensics and fraud. 
 
Coach:  Would you recommend this course to your colleagues?
Nayak:
I would definitely recommend this course to my colleagues, and some of my friends and colleagues are also planning to pursue the CFE credential soon.
 
Coach: How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?
Nayak:
My main reason to be in forensics is to do something different from what others are doing. After working in forensics for few months, I realised how people are manipulating their books and making frauds and ultimately not able to repay loans to banks. I want to stop this practice and help banks recover their money.
 
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?
Nayak:
For fun, I usually like to travel and capture pictures. You can definitely visit my Instagram account: @dhawalnayak. I do not have that much time that I can travel frequently, but I do get some time for myself every once in a while, and I go to some places in my city and capture pictures. The best thing I find about clicking pictures is that it makes me feel good about how amazing nature is around us.
 
Coach:   Do you have any study tips or suggestions for aspiring CFEs?
Nayak:
For tips, I would recommend to study sincerely for 2-3 hours per day and practice. Practice as much as you can. Go through some important terminologies every once in a while and be conceptually clear.