Student Volunteer Shares Her Experience at the ACFE Global Fraud Conference


Sarah Rich
ACFE Student Volunteer

I eagerly anticipated my second ACFE Global Fraud Conference, knowing this one would be different because this year I'd be attending as a student representative. When we finally landed in Nashville, Tennessee, home of country music venues including the Grand Ole Opry and Ryman Auditorium, I was met by bands rocking every bar on the Honky Tonk Highway (Broadway Street) and hapless bachelorettes staggering from bar to bar or pedaling down the street on “Nashville’s #1 Party Bikes!” Nashville was definitely hopping and as I observed the debauchery I had to ponder: was this preparing me for a taste of my next four years of college life?

But my sights were set on the conference, not Broadway Street. I was overwhelmed by the caliber of people I met and I came away with a new determination to obtain my college degree in fighting fraud and then earn my CFE credential.

My first night in Nashville I had the privilege of dining with the ladies on the ACFE Board of Regents including Leah Lane, Alexis Bell, Vidya Rajarao and my mom, Nancy Rich. Leah is the Director of Global Investigations at Texas Instruments; Alexis is an International Anti-Fraud Consultant and CEO of The Fraud Doctor, LLC; and Vidya is a partner at Grant Thornton in India. Each of these ladies took the time to tell me what they do in their job on a day-to-day basis. They truly inspired me to pursue my goal of becoming a fraud examiner. Thanks ladies!

On Sunday I met Leslie Simpson, ACFE director of events and the student coordinator. She gave us a tour of the conference center and passed out our assignments. I also had a chance to meet all of the other ACFE student representatives, which included students from all over the world, including my favorite place, Australia. We received our schedules with the lists of tasks that we had to do during the week. It was truly a great group of student representatives.

On Monday morning I donned my newly acquired ACFE shirt and headed off to my first assignment, which was to hand out mugs in the massive Exhibit Hall, and then to help assemble for the opening ceremonies. All of the student volunteers had a chance to sit up front during the ceremonies. It always blows me away how many people attend this conference that are from all over the world.

I then had a chance to attend some of the breakout sessions. My favorite session was with David Weber, Academic Director - Fraud and AML Management Programs at the University of Maryland. He provided an in-depth discussion on the Panama Papers, which is said to be the largest leak in history of financial and legal records. The papers even tied several current and former world leaders to fraudulent activity. I was so intrigued by his presentation that I went to visit him in the Exhibit Hall during a break. He told me of a certificate program he would be offering through the University of Maryland, which will be a perfect fit for me once I graduate from college. Other highlights from the conference included attending the first-ever Women’s Networking Reception and the Charlie Daniels Band concert on Tuesday night. You rock, Charlie!

I feel so very honored to have been chosen to attend this ACFE Global Fraud Conference as a student representative. After meeting so many experienced fraud fighters, I am even more inspired to start my college career at Christopher Newport University and begin my path to becoming a fraud fighter. I still hope to start an ACFE chapter at my college in the fall, but I might just have to come back to Nashville when I turn my friends and I can practice our bike-riding skills down the Honky Tonk Highway!