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Book Review: Fraud Fighter: My Fables and Foibles

By Joseph T. Wells;Reviewed by James T. Roberts, Jr., CPP, CFE

*****Fraud Fighter: My Fables and Foibles. By Joseph T. Wells. John Wiley and Sons, www.wiley.com; 289 pages; $39.95.

Wow! There is a successful leader who admits that he broke the law or perhaps stretched it in his younger days. This is an autobiography of a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent who found his way in life, from poor beginnings to creating a world-class organization dedicated to educating fraud fighters. This book is his honest appraisal of his life, his mistakes, his good fortune, and his loyal and dedicated associates who believed in his vision.

Joseph Wells is known today as the innovative world leader of the modern concept of investigating fraud and founder of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. He pioneered the philosophy that, through the combination of teaching auditors investigative techniques and teaching investigators auditing methods, business organizations and governmental agencies would be better prepared and more able to effectively reduce internal fraud. There are now more than 55,000 Certified Fraud Examiners worldwide.

The 289-page book is a quick, fascinating read. There are parts that will make the reader wonder how Wells was not found out and shot. Other parts of the book detail his close friendship with Jim Ratley, a Dallas police officer, and others who shared his belief in developing a new breed of fraud fighters.

The first part of the book covers Wells’ life in Oklahoma, the U.S. Navy, and as a business accountant. It also describes his white-collar crime assignments in the FBI successfully investigating U.S. Attorney General John Mitchell and corruption in the Mississippi State Senate. Leaving the FBI, he became a private investigator, working for people including Ross Perot of Electronic Data Systems. The second section presents an inside look on how he and Jim Ratley staked their lives and money on building a viable and thriving association devoted to upgrading the education of crime fighters in an area that many respectable business leaders didn’t want to acknowledge was prevalent in their organizations. The book also illustrates Wells’ savvy in maintaining a lean, efficient, business organization.

Wells has changed the business world’s view on fraud. As he gets ready to leave the active life as the head of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, he has gone to the confessional and laid his life out for you to judge. He went through his early life dissatisfied with what he was doing. Finding his passion, he became a leader in fighting white-collar crime. The reader will find a good message in this book.


Reviewer: James T. Roberts, Jr., CPP, CFE (Certified Fraud Examiner), U.S. Marshal (retired), is president of Starboard Focus Contingency Planners. He has served ASIS as a chapter chair, regional vice president, national council chair, and member of the Professional Certification Board and Item Development Group. He currently serves on the Law Enforcement Liaison Council as the LELC IACP liaison committee chair.

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