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Detecting Accounting Fraud

Course Code: ACCT 3850
Faculty: Commerce & Business Administration
Department: Accounting
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15
Learning Format: Lecture, Online, Hybrid
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

In this course, students will gain an understanding of the institutional and organizational conditions that lead to fraudulent financial reporting, failure of sound corporate governance practice and finally to share-price collapse in stock markets. Both the causes of these failures and their effects on business communities and society as a whole will be discussed. These issues will be examined through case studies of actual incidents of financial misreporting and stock market fraud that have occurred in a variety of organizations including private and publicly-traded corporations, government, and not-for-profit organizations. Reference will be made to standard ethical theories which will be reviewed. Students are recommended to take PHIL 1122 and BUSN 1320 prior to taking this course.

Course Content

1. Introduction to the ethical, moral and legal problem of fraudulent Financial Reporting.

2. Making ethical decisions in the business world; study of major philosophical frameworks for analyzing ethical dilemmas, as well as the most frequent “false exits”.

3. Improper recording of contingent sales and other unethical organizational behaviours. 

4. Moral and ethical dilemmas facing Accounting professionals invoved in holding books open after end of period, entering in multiple element contracts, recording fictitious revenue, improper Valuation of Revenue, submitting misleading Cash Flow Statements, and other professional unethical conduct including employee and employer conflicts.

5. Improper use of Business Combinations and capitalization of expenses.        

6. Immoral and unethical professional decisions such as those relating to deferral of expenses, failure to record expenses, overstating ending inventory, understating reserves for bad debts, failure to record asset impairments, and off-Balance Sheet arrangements.

7. Inadequate Disclosure in MD&A and related party transactions.

8. Unethical leadership as demonstrated during the Mortgage Crisis. 

9. Signals that may indicate possible fictitious reporting in financial statements.

Methods of Instruction

In-class lectures and/or on-line

Means of Assessment

Assignments and Case studies  30%

Participation 10%

Mid-term      25%

Final Exam   35%

To pass this course, students must obtain a minimum of 50% on invigilated assessments, with the 50% calculated on a weighted average basis.

Invigilated assessments include, in-class quizzes, in-class tests, midterm exam(s) and the final exam.

Learning Outcomes

  • Analyze the ethical decision making process adopted by various international organizations, including International Accounting Standards Board
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the most frequent fraudulent business practices and GAAP departures in reporting used to: overstate revenue, understate expenses, in business combinations to overstate earnings, overstate assets and reserves.
  • Identify and analyze use of special purpose entities and round-trip transactions to falsify financial reporting
  • Analyze the importance of institutional and environmental influences, and how they can assist Accounting professionals and other citizens develop the ethical and moral values in their careers and their role as leaders.

course prerequisites

ACCT 1210 with a C or better OR ACCT 1235 with a C or better


Courses listed here must be completed either prior to or simultaneously with this course:

  • No corequisite courses


Courses listed here are equivalent to this course and cannot be taken for further credit:

  • No equivalency courses

curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.