Traveling Fraud Museum: The Power of Fraud


Monetary loss, reputational damage, loss of trust — the power of fraud can have irreversible impacts on victims. 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 at the 29th Annual ACFE Global Fraud Conference will display some of history’s most powerful fraudsters, and the havoc they wreaked on their towns, organizations and governments.

Corruption coverage
Government officials hold quite a bit of power and unfortunately that power can sometimes create opportunity for corruption. This can’t-miss piece, a newspaper article from 1973, tells the tale of a fraudster who nearly made it to the top. Spiro T. Agnew was the 39th vice president of the U.S. and the only one to ever resign in disgrace. After a meteoric political rise, Agnew’s political success was short-lived when it was revealed that as governor of Maryland he demanded and received at least $29,500 in bribes from state road building contractors. Later, he turned over an additional $250,000 to the government for other misdeeds. Though he avoided prison, Agnew was fined $10,000 and placed on three years’ probation through a negotiated plea deal. The former vice president died in obscurity in 1996.

A telling tool
Who knew a letter opener would be worth visiting? The letter opener to be featured is from American International Group’s (AIG) Fraud Investigation Division and primarily existed to help catch insurance cheaters — not open a can of worms. At one time, AIG was the 18th-largest company in the world and had assets of more than a trillion U.S. dollars. In February 2008, a jury returned guilty verdicts for five individuals, including AIG’s former head of reinsurance, Christian Milton; and four from AIG’s affiliate, General Re. They’d concocted a scheme to add $500 million to AIG’s loss reserves through sham transactions. However, prosecutors claimed the resultant loss to the company was actually $1.6 billion. AIG would later receive a record-setting loan from the government following a downgrade of its credit rating.

These are just a couple of the many pieces that will be making their way from the Fraud Museum’s permanent home at ACFE Headquarters in Austin, Texas, to the 29th Annual ACFE Global Fraud Conference in Las Vegas. Stop by the Fraud Museum in the Exhibit Hall to see these and more. This year the quiz can be found in the Game Center of the Conference Mobile App. Answer the four Fraud Museum quiz questions in your mobile app to be entered to win a $250 gift card. Good luck!