What is a CFE?

Shannon Kietzman

A Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) is a person who has undergone schooling to become an expert in the detection, prevention, investigation, and deterrence of fraud. Although becoming a CFE is not necessary in order to gain employment in the fraud examination field, gaining the credential helps boost a person’s likelihood of becoming employed in the field and increases his or her earning potential. In fact, a 2005 study by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) demonstrated that those with certification earn an average of 26% more than those without CFE certification.

Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone
Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone

In order to gain CFE certification, it is necessary to complete an application, which includes a recent photo, proof of education, and three professional letters of recommendation, and to send examination fees to the ACFE. There are strict guidelines concerning what must be included in the letter of recommendation, such as how the writer knows you and his or her opinions in regard to your integrity, character, and professional abilities. The next step in gaining CFE certification is to complete a four part examination. The areas covered in the CFE examination are criminology & ethics, financial transactions, fraud investigation, and legal elements of fraud.

The criminology & ethics section of the CFE exam covers areas such as fraud prevention theories, criminal justice administration, source for crime information, crime causation theories, and ethical situations. The financial transactions section of the CFE examination requires proving knowledge in basic auditing and accounting theory, internal controls for deterring fraud, and fraud schemes. The fraud investigation portion covers taking statements, interviewing individuals, methods for gaining information from public records, deception evaluating, how to trace illicit transactions, and report writing. The legal elements of fraud section of the CFE examination tests the individual’s knowledge of civil law, criminal law, legal aspects of fraud examinations, rules regarding evidence, and the rights of the accuser and the accused.

In order to prepare for the CFE examination, one can obtain and study the Fraud Examiners Manual. Approximately 80% of the questions on the CFE examination are derived directly from this manual. The remaining questions come from other study materials, a list of which can be downloaded from the ACFE website. Another option is to attend a CFE exam prep course, a computer course offered by the ACFE.

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Discussion Comments


@ Ishwarchopra- I did a little research and found that India has their own chapter of the ACFE. Becoming a CFE in India would require that you take the same test as CFEs from anywhere else.

The ACFE website has all of the resources and requirements for becoming a CFE.

The basic requirements for becoming a CFE are as follows:

* Become a member of the ACFE.

* Agree to the ACFE code of ethics and be of good moral standing (I would assume this requires assessment of references and work history).

* Have the equivalent of a bachelors degree or better (work history will be considered in lieu of a degree).

* Have at least two years experience in fraud detection. This can include accounting work, law enforcement, loss prevention or criminology.

The ACFE panel gives applicants points for each of these requirements, with a minimum number of points required to take the CFE exam. This allows candidates lacking in one area to make up for it in another.


I want to take the CFE in India. How do I go about that?

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