This winter, 40 School of Management students partnered with Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID) special agents to learn what it takes to convict a criminal. After all, let’s not forget that it was the work of the IRS that led to notorious mob boss Al Capone’s downfall.
Students in the Accounting Honors Program and those pursuing an accounting certificate became honorary special agents for the day to solve a mock fraud case as part of a program known as the Adrian Project. This was the first time Mason had participated in the program.
“The Adrian Project is a unique opportunity for accounting students to explore the possibility of a career in criminal justice and learn about the inner workings of fraud investigation through the eyes of an IRS special agent,” says Anne Magro, associate professor of accounting and director of the Accounting Honors Program.
During the exercise, students were split into groups to perform the investigation, which took several hours to complete. The simulation began with an “informant” reporting suspicious activity to the special agents, who allowed the students to use forensic accounting tools used by federal law enforcement officers. Throughout the investigation, students played the roles of informant, special agents, undercover agents, and, ultimately, arresting agents.
“This was definitely a worthwhile use of our time today. It was really interesting to see how accounting can be used within the law enforcement context,” says Mason junior Benjamin Smith.