At this year’s 28th Annual ACFE Global Fraud Conference, we celebrate heroes like you who fight fraud on the front lines every day. But in most stories, to be a hero you must face a villain. Made up of artifacts, memorabilia, documents and other pieces of fraud history collected by ACFE founder and Chairman Dr. Joseph T. Wells, CFE, CPA, this year’s Traveling Fraud Museum displays some of fraud’s most nefarious villains and the heroes who brought these characters to justice.
Whether you’re a horse enthusiast or just like to see the good guys win, Rita Crundwell’s belt buckle is a can’t-miss piece. While Crundwell could have been remembered for her championship Quarter Horse breeding operation, she'll instead go down in infamy for bilking the town of Dixon, Illinois, out of more than $53 million. As the city comptroller, a position she held for nearly 30 years, Crundwell siphoned city funds into her own private banking accounts, forcing the city to borrow millions every year and forgo employee raises. While on vacation, her substitute noticed financial irregularities that were reported to the FBI. Crundwell is now serving an almost 20-year sentence in a Minnesota prison.
The hero of another piece, a reward poster from 1912, is Allan Pinkerton of Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency. The villain is one Harrison Congdon, aka Harry Knight, a bookkeeper for Buster Brown Hosiery Mills in Chicago. According to the reward poster, he took one of his employer’s checks for $10 and raised it to $810, cashed it at a local bank and then absconded with the money. His company posted a $100 reward for Congdon’s capture. Founded by Pinkerton in 1850, Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency prepared the reward poster. The firm is generally considered the first private detective organization in America. U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt called on Pinkerton’s assistance late in the detective’s life to establish a federal agency that would eventually become the United States Secret Service.
Dubbed the “archetype of avarice” by The New York Times, former Tyco CEO Dennis Kozlowski could have written the book on how NOT to set an ethical tone at the top. View the gold and burgundy shower curtain, which was hung in his maid’s bathroom at his residence on 5th Avenue in New York, reported to cost more than $6,000.
His empire came crashing down when he was indicted for tax evasion on a $14 million piece of artwork. This led to a larger internal investigation into his business practices at Tyco. In 2005, Kozlowski was convicted of stealing nearly $100 million from Tyco and was sentenced to a maximum of 25 years in prison. He served the minimum sentence of eight and a half years, and was released in 2014.
These are just a couple of the many pieces that will make their way to Nashville from the Fraud Museum’s permanent home at ACFE Headquarters in Austin, Texas. If you're attending the conference, don't forget to stop by the Fraud Museum in the Exhibit Hall!