Accounting students help Portland Police Bureau investigate fraud
Author: School of Business Administration
Posted: July 12, 2013

As part of the forensic and investigative accounting class this winter, Portland State University’s School of Business students participated in a new program, Justice for Fraud Victims Project (JFVP), which investigates actual fraud cases provided by the Portland Police Bureau (PPB). The program is a new partnership between PSU, Portland Law Enforcement, Moss Adams, LLP and the Portland Chapter of Certified Fraud Examiners. Taught by Nancy Young, CPA, CISA, CFE of Moss Adams, LLP, and assisted by PPB’s Detective Brian Sitton, students examined real world complications in alleged white collar crimes including a credit card fraud case, property management case and a falsified time reporting case.

The inflow of cases to PPB’s White Collar Crime unit is staggering. “With capacity to only focus on bigger financial crimes, many cases are never processed,” said Sitton, who worked closely with students during the course. “The students worked hard to find motives and gather enough evidence to identify and place the suspect into the court system who would have otherwise gotten away,” Sitton said.

The partnership is a way for PPB to process more cases without requesting additional funding, while simultaneously providing PSU students with hands-on community-based learning. “Having real cases to work on really made an impact on the students. It was a win-win for everyone except for the fraudsters,” said Young.

This course confirmed for many students if forensic accounting is the right niche for them. Regardless of their choice to move forward in this area, the real world applications inspired their work resulting in a 100% participation rate.

The project’s success earned Young and Sitton a PPB Achievement Medal Award on April 16. Pictured (right) with Sitton (left) and Accounting Area Director Elizabeth Almer (center), Young and Sitton accepted their awards amongst other impressive recipients honored for their extraordinary civic and heroic achievements.

The forensic accounting class is part of a larger effort by the PSU Accounting Area to offer more non-traditional electives that are relevant to regional demand. In addition to offering this class again next winter, PSU will be launching an advanced not-for-profit accounting course next spring. For more information about the JFVP and the forensic accounting course, visit the website at