Missouri State University
Dr. Les Heitger

Dr. Les Heitger

  • Professor

With the demise of the Enron corporation, large-scale fraud became a hot topic in media and across the nation. For Dr. Les Heitger, this increased attention has increased the need for forensic accounting specialists—a need he met by helping to create the forensic accounting certificate program at Missouri State.

Forensic accounting gives students a competitive edge

According to a study conducted by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, it is estimated that the average annual loss from fraud is about 7 percent of a business’ sales revenue. When the loss of revenue is compounded with an increased number of lawsuits, companies are looking for professionals with knowledge and experience in identifying fraud and estimating loss.

“This greater awareness of fraud among the public and business community has increased employers’ awareness of the need for forensic specialists,” said Dr. Heitger. To meet this growing need, Dr. Heitger and colleague Dr. Michael Groomer developed the forensic accounting certificate program.

This certificate program is one of the first of its kind in the country. It includes four graduate-level courses in topics related to forensic accounting, including fraud examination and auditing. “The major goal for this program is to make available to students a high-level graduate program that will provide them with skills and knowledge that will give them a competitive edge over students from other programs,” said Dr. Heitger.

Dr. Heitger knows from firsthand experience what skills and knowledge are necessary for success as a forensic accounting specialist. For more than 25 years, he has served as an expert witness in a number of court cases providing his professional insights into issues of liability and damages.

“The role of an expert witness is to provide the court with insights and understandings about issues that, without the expert’s testimony, might be misunderstood or ignored by the court,” said Heitger. “As a financial expert witness, I typically describe and explain accounting and financial issues that are relevant to the case.”

In addition to providing counsel in legal situations, Heitger has served on the U.S. Justice Department’s White Collar Crimes Division’s Model Curriculum in Forensic Accounting Task Force. This task force helped create documents that guide the development of forensic accounting courses and programs. He has also written one of the leading textbooks for the field of forensic accounting, “Forensic and Investigative Accounting.”

 

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