Syllabus for ACC-501



Principles of Forensic Accounting provides a solid foundation for building skills in forensic accounting techniques, including gathering, interpreting, and documenting evidence. In this course we examine the investigative techniques used by accountants to conduct forensic examinations as well as the common schemes and techniques used to commit fraud. The skills acquired will enable you to assist businesses in detecting, investigating, documenting, and preventing fraud. The course also introduces you to the many professional opportunities available to forensic accountants.

Advisory: Students considering enrolling in this graduate course should have a thorough understanding of the business transaction cycle and, at a minimum, a background in both financial accounting and auditing, obtained through either prior coursework or professional experience.


After completing this course, you should be able to: 

  1. Implement the best practices used by forensic accountants, including investigative techniques, standards of proof, and report format used to support their conclusions.
  2. Describe the types of research and the wide array of investigations that forensic accountants are customarily engaged to conduct.
  3. Discuss the various roles undertaken by forensic accountants, as well as their requirements and certifications.
  4. Differentiate roles and responsibilities of the financial statement auditor and the forensic investigator.
  5. Summarize the “red flags” used by forensic accountants to detect fraud.
  6. Assess the objectives of the forensic accountant called in as part of the fraud investigation team.
  7. Describe and practice “professional skepticism.”
  8. Evaluate the fraudulent schemes commonly encountered by the forensic accountant.
  9. Plan a forensic investigation by gathering and documenting evidence, including cases where there is known or suspected fraud.
  10. Discuss the professional ethical responsibilities of the forensic accountant and develop appropriate recommendations or strategies for resolving potential ethical dilemmas.
  11. Identify internal controls or other methods that can be used to help prevent fraud.


You will need the following materials to do the work of the course. The required textbooks are available from the College's textbook supplier, MBS Direct.

Required Textbooks

  1. Hopwood, W. S., Leiner, J. J., & Young, G. R. (2008). Forensic accounting. Boston: McGraw-Hill Irwin. 

    ISBN-13: 978-0-07-352685-0

  1. Knapp, M. C. (2010). Forensic accounting—ACC 501. Two case studies. Custom publication. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.

    ISBN-10: 1-111-29530-1


Principles of Forensic Accounting is a three-credit online course, consisting of seven (7) modules. Modules include an overview, topics, learning objectives, study materials, and activities. Module titles are listed below, along with their associated course objectives and topics..

  1. Module 1: Accounting and Legal Fundamentals for Forensic Accounting

  1. Course objectives covered in this module include: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
  1. Topics addressed include: role of the forensic accountant; differences between forensic accounting and auditing; legal fundamentals (including financial crimes and criminal and civil processes); transaction cycles and internal controls

  1. Module 2: The Auditing Environment and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002

  1. Course objectives covered in this module include: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, 11
  1. Topics addressed include: the audit process (including methods and techniques used and types of audit reports issued); the auditor's responsibility to detect fraud; Sarbanes-Oxley Act (including overall objectives, major provisions, compliance with the act, and evaluation of effectiveness)

  1. Module 3: Forensic Accounting Tools and Techniques

  1. Course objectives covered in this module include: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
  1. Topics addressed include: key concepts of forensic science applicable to accounting; key concepts of information security management systems; the effect of suspected fraud on the audit of financial statements or a forensic investigation; common indicators of fraud; common analytical procedures; sources of forensic evidence; investigative techniques used by forensic accountants; interview and interrogation techniques

  1. Module 4: Financial Statement Fraud

  1. Course objectives covered in this module include: 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
  2. Topics addressed include: financial statement fraud schemes (including improper revenue recognition, overstatement of assets, understatement of expenses and liabilities, misappropriation of assets, inappropriate disclosure, and other miscellaneous techniques); characteristics of financial statement fraud; motives of management to commit financial statement fraud; financial statement fraud, the stock market, and insider training; prevention of financial statement fraud; red flags of financial statement fraud

  1. Module 5: Employee and Vendor Fraud 

  1. Course objectives covered in this module include: 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11
  1. Topics addressed include: circumstances that lead to employee fraud, types of employee and vendor fraud (including transaction cycle fraud and electronic information fraud); internal control weakness and fraud

  1. Module 6: Tax, Bankruptcy, and Divorce Fraud; Identity Theft; and Money Laundering 

  1. Course objectives covered in this module include: 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
  1. Topics addressed include: overview of tax fraud; the tax practitioner and the IRS; principal tax evasion crimes; civil tax fraud; statute of limitations; methods of proof; tax protesters; bankruptcy fraud; divorce fraud; identity theft; organized crime; terrorism; money laundering

  1. Module 7: Professional Services: Business Valuation, Dispute Resolution, and Litigation

  1. Course objectives covered in this module include: 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10
  2. Topics addressed include: overview of business valuation; basic valuation theory; the process of valuing a business; valuation methods; forms of alternative dispute resolution; creating an alternative dispute resolution department; expert consulting and testimony


For your formal work in the course, you are required to participate fully in eleven (11) online discussion forums (worth 16% of your course grade) and to complete three (3) sets of review questions (worth 6%), eight (8) integrative writing assignments (worth 32%), four (4) case assignments (worth 36%), and two (2) research assignments (worth 10%). For the assignment details, see the individual course modules.

Consult the course Calendar for assignment due dates.

Discussion Forums

In addition to an ungraded Introductions Forum in Module 1, Principles of Forensic Accounting requires you to participate in eleven (11) graded discussion forums. The graded discussion forums are worth 16% of your course grade.

Communication and collaboration among fellow students and with the mentor is a critical component of online learning. Participation in online discussions involves two distinct assignments: an initial response to a posted question (discussion thread) and subsequent comments on classmates' responses.

You will be evaluated both on the quality of your responses (i.e., your understanding of readings, concepts, and practices as demonstrated by well-articulated, critical thinking) and quantity of your participation (i.e., the number of times you participate meaningfully in the assigned forums). Responses and comments should be properly proofread and edited, professional, and respectful.

Meaningful participation in online discussions is relevant to the content, adds value, and advances the discussion. Comments such as "I agree" and "ditto" are not considered value-adding participation. Therefore, when you agree or disagree with a classmate, the reading, or your mentor, state and support your agreement or disagreement.

Writing Assignments

Writing assignments include sets of review questions, integrative assignments, case assignments, and research assignments.

Prepare your writing assignments using whatever word processing program you have on your computer. Include your name at the top of the paper, as well as the course name and code and the semester and year in which you are enrolled.


Before submitting your first assignment, check with your mentor to determine whether your word processing software is compatible with your mentor's software. If so, you can submit your work as you prepared it. If not, save your assignment as a rich-text format (.rtf) file, using the Save As command of your software program. Rich text retains basic formatting and can be read by any other word processing program.


Your grade in the course will be determined as follows:

  1. Discussion forums (11)—16 percent
  2. Review questions (3 sets)—6 percent
  3. Integrative assignments (8)—32 percent
  4. Case assignments (4)—36 percent
  5. Research assignments (2)—10 percent

All activities will receive a numerical grade of 0–100. You will receive a score of 0 for any work not submitted. Your final grade in the course will be a letter grade. Letter grade equivalents for numerical grades are as follows:
























Below 73

To receive credit for the course, you must earn a letter grade of C or higher on the weighted average of all assigned course work (e.g., assignments, discussion postings, projects, etc.). Graduate students must maintain a B average overall to remain in good academic standing.


First Steps to Success

To succeed in this course, take the following first steps:

  1. Read carefully the entire Syllabus, making sure that all aspects of the course are clear to you and that you have all the materials required for the course.

  1. Take the time to read the entire Online Student Handbook. The Handbook answers many questions about how to proceed through the course and how to get the most from your educational experience at Thomas Edison State College.

  1. Familiarize yourself with the learning management systems environment—how to navigate it and what the various course areas contain. If you know what to expect as you navigate the course, you can better pace yourself and complete the work on time.

  1. If you are not familiar with Web-based learning be sure to review the processes for posting responses online and submitting assignments before class begins.

Study Tips

Consider the following study tips for success:

  1. To stay on track throughout the course, begin each week by consulting the course Calendar. The Calendar provides an overview of the course and indicates due dates for submitting assignments, posting discussions, and scheduling and taking examinations.

  1. Check Announcements regularly for new course information.


Students at Thomas Edison State College are expected to exhibit the highest level of academic citizenship. In particular, students are expected to read and follow all policies, procedures, and program information guidelines contained in publications; pursue their learning goals with honesty and integrity; demonstrate that they are progressing satisfactorily and in a timely fashion by meeting course deadlines and following outlined procedures; observe a code of mutual respect in dealing with mentors, staff, and other students; behave in a manner consistent with the standards and codes of the profession in which they are practicing; keep official records updated regarding changes in name, address, telephone number, or e-mail address; and meet financial obligations in a timely manner. Students not practicing good academic citizenship may be subject to disciplinary action including suspension, dismissal, or financial holds on records.

Academic Dishonesty

Thomas Edison State College expects all of its students to approach their education with academic integrity—the pursuit of scholarly activity free from fraud and deception. All mentors and administrative staff members at the College insist on strict standards of academic honesty in all courses. Academic dishonesty undermines this objective. Academic dishonesty takes the following forms:

  1. Cheating
  2. Plagiarizing (including copying and pasting from the Internet without using quotation marks and without acknowledging sources)
  3. Fabricating information or citations
  4. Facilitating acts of dishonesty by others
  5. Unauthorized access to examinations or the use of unauthorized materials during exam administration
  6. Submitting the work of another person or work previously used without informing the mentor
  7. Tampering with the academic work of other students

Academic dishonesty will result in disciplinary action and possible dismissal from the College. Students who submit papers that are found to be plagiarized will receive an F on the plagiarized assignment, may receive a grade of F for the course, and may face dismissal from the College.

A student who is charged with academic dishonesty will be given oral or written notice of the charge. If a mentor or College official believes the infraction is serious enough to warrant referral of the case to the academic dean, or if the mentor awards a final grade of F in the course because of the infraction, the student and the mentor will be afforded formal due process.

If a student is found cheating or using unauthorized materials on an examination, he or she will automatically receive a grade of F on that examination. Students who believe they have been falsely accused of academic dishonesty should seek redress through informal discussions with the mentor, through the office of the dean, or through an executive officer of Thomas Edison State College.


Using someone else's work as your own is plagiarism. Although it may seem like simple dishonesty, plagiarism is against the law. Thomas Edison State College takes a strong stance against plagiarism, and students found to be plagiarizing will be severely penalized. If you copy phrases, sentences, paragraphs, or whole documents word-for-word—or if you paraphrase by changing a word here and there—without identifying the author, then you are plagiarizing. Please keep in mind that this type of identification applies to Internet sources as well as to print-based sources. Copying and pasting from the Internet, without using quotation marks and without acknowledging sources, constitutes plagiarism.  (For information about how to cite Internet sources, see Online Student Handbook > Academic Standards > "Citing Sources.")

Accidentally copying the words and ideas of another writer does not excuse the charge of plagiarism. It is easy to jot down notes and ideas from many sources and then write your own paper without knowing which words are your own and which are someone else's. It is more difficult to keep track of each and every source. However, the conscientious writer who wishes to avoid plagiarizing never fails to keep careful track of sources.

Always be aware that if you write without acknowledging the sources of your ideas, you run the risk of being charged with plagiarism.

Clearly, plagiarism, no matter the degree of intent to deceive, defeats the purpose of education. If you plagiarize deliberately, you are not educating yourself, and you are wasting your time on courses meant to improve your skills. If you plagiarize through carelessness, you are deceiving yourself.

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