Traveling Fraud Museum Looks at Fraud on the Big Screen

While the Fraud Museum’s permanent home is at ACFE headquarters in Austin, Texas, each year a traveling exhibit featuring selected pieces goes on display at the ACFE Global Fraud Conference. 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 Fraud Museum displays financial frauds depicted on Hollywood’s big screen. The pieces reflect on productions like The Wolf of Wall Street, The Big Short and the recent ABC miniseries, Madoff. 

A must-see piece at the 27th Annual ACFE Global Fraud Conference, June 12-17 in Las Vegas is “Fraudulent Russian Investment Notes” from the Russian company MMM. The notes feature a portrait of Sergei Mavrodi, one of three founders of the company. These notes — which are worthless — are a reminder of Russia’s biggest Ponzi scheme. At the peak of its performance, MMM was collecting $11 million daily. Ponzi schemes are distinguished by paying the principal and interest for old investors with money collected from new victims. Because of the multiplier effect, all Ponzi schemes are destined to eventually fail. For this particular scheme, losses eventually reached $1.5 billion, collected from several million investors.

Another piece to check out is the tongue-in-cheek “Wall Street ‘Most Wanted’ Playing Cards” in the Wolves of Wall Street display. This card set hosts caricatures of many corporate titans who have been charged with major accounting frauds. Some of the fraudsters include Ken Lay of Enron, Martha Stewart and Scott Sullivan of WorldCom.

Check out the other fascinating pieces from the far — and recent — past when you stop by the Fraud Museum exhibit. Remember to bring this conference guide with you and take the quiz on the next page. Be sure to submit your answer sheet in the submission box located at the Fraud Museum exhibit and you will be entered to win a $250 gift card (one answer sheet will be drawn at the end of the conference to determine the winner). Good luck!