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Imprisoning by numbers: An Accountants Game.

What comes to mind when you see the word, ‘accountancy’?. Perhaps thoughts about mathematics, numbers, ledgers and (Que dramatic music) income tax whiz through your mind. Not the most exciting for the majority. What if I told you that accountancy could help put the world’s most notorious gangsters behind bars?

The ‘roaring '20s’ in Chicago was an era of bootlegging, bribery and violence, with Alphonse “Scarface” Capone ruling the empire. Known for dealing his hand in countless assaults, murders, robberies and illegal businesses, the crime boss was almost impossible to take down. His habits of paying people to stay ‘silenced’ and threatening lives if they turned against him, meant that targeting Capone was like signing your own death warrant. Trust an accountant to take that risk!

It’s no secret that Capone liked to live a life of luxury throughout the Windy City. Keeping track of spending habits within a gangster’s line of work is quite the liability, so much of his frivolous lifestyle remained unaccounted for. Capone never filed a single tax return. Aha! Finally, one way to crack him. While targeting his business endeavours was off the cards, the FBI & IRS hoped to convict him of tax evasion. That’s where special agent and accountant, Frank Wilson came in.

Wilson and his team began building a case against the fraudster by reviewing over 2 million documents, before cracking the case with the discovery of three ledgers revealing a small selection of Capone’s untaxed income. By investigating handwriting samples, Wilson could identify who made the ledger notations, thus building a team of witnesses to testify against the suspect. In 1951, Capone was indicted on 23 counts of tax evasion and charged with an 11-year prison sentence and $250,000 in fines. That should remind you to always file your taxes.

The success of this case reveals the importance of forensic accounting in investigations and paved the way for future progressions within the profession. Wilson and his team show us the wide range of skills necessary to build a successful case as a forensic accountant, from document reviews and financial analysis to litigation support. Although the gun-wielding, mafia villains of the '20s have been replaced by tech-savvy, modern criminals, the role of forensic accountants is ever-present within society. Every financial crime requires a transaction and forensic accountants must be able to recognize even the most minute of inconsistencies within a system.

Accountancy. Perhaps not as tedious as you thought?

We are Toner Graham. We are Kelly’s finance and accountancy firm in the UK. We have access to an active pool of top-tier talent at our fingertips. Whether you’re hiring a forensic accountant, a company secretary or a financial assistant (to name a few), Toner Graham can help build the team of experts you need.

Curious to learn more about what we do? Jump onto the Toner Graham | Accounting page.