- The June article “Skimming: The Achilles’ Heel of
the Audit?” was interesting in concept, if not wrong in application.
To a hammer, every situation looks like a nail. To a forensic accountant,
every situation can be interpreted as fraud, theft, embezzlement,
skimming, etc. As someone who has never written a check at the grocery
store, drycleaner, or gas station, and almost never pays cash, hopefully
I won't be accused of skimming. Or if I was, hopefully I would be
alive to explain the benefits of credit cards that provide frequent-flier
miles, or the convenience of debit cards.
as someone who has owned laundromats, this almost certainly is
not a case of skimming. Skimming would be more likely had the
bags of coins described in the article consisted of standard issue
U.S. quarters, which could have been removed from the laundromat’s
machines prior to counting and recording. As these were rare coins,
chances are they were not the size or weight that a coin-operated
machine in a laundromat would accept. That meant they would have
had to have come through the cash register.
been working the register and noticed these rare coins, she might
have substituted current coins or currency for them in order to
keep the register balance static. The article doesn’t seem
to indicate that any register balances appeared to have been tinkered
with; nor were there excessive unexplained charges against the
register. Janet might still be accountable to Raymond (her partner
in the laundromat) for not sharing in the rare coins, but this
would be harder to prove absent the skimming angle. The idea that
she skimmed would add circumstantial credence to thinking that
the rare coins were skimmed also, even though virtually physically
stated in the article, but I assume that Janet was under suspicion
of skimming for two main reasons. First, that all cash-business
owners are assumed to skim. Second, because Raymond had told the
forensic accountant they were skimming. Otherwise, a CPA who is
trained in skepticism should not look merely at the absence of
a check written to a drycleaner, gas station, or grocer as evidence
R. Haber, PhD, CPA
Hagan School of Business, Iona College
New Rochelle, N.Y.
that the letter writer has written few checks. That alone would
not be indicative of skimming. The one fallacy in the writer’s
argument is the presumption that coins were counted and recorded;
it wasn’t the case here. Indeed, besides bank deposits there
were no records to speak of. This matter was heard in a court
of law where a verdict was reached. Inexperienced “forensic
accountants” frequently cannot resist the temptation to
try opining on the sufficiency of evidence. That is not their
job and no competent judge would allow it.
T. Wells, CFE, CPA
Is Much More Than Numbers
Talking with CPA Journal
Editor-in-Chief Mary-Jo Kranacher at the NYSSCPA’s
and Foundation for Accounting Education’s Antifraud Conference
in June, I faulted the literacy level of current accounting graduates
because they do not read and cannot write.
being a CPA has always been much more than numbers. It is particularly
interesting to note how far the profession has come in attempting
to give clarity to financial statements via the footnotes. When
I worked for a major accounting firm in the 1960s, the ability
to comply with disclosure requirements while saying nothing was
a prized quality. That game is over. The reader of the financial
statements is supposed to be enlightened by the footnotes,
which requires a literate accountant. Let us use the extra year
of education that will soon be mandated to achieve that goal.
Rosen Seymour Shapss Martin & Company LLP
New York, N.Y.
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