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Accounting News Roundup: Dealing With IRS Phone Scams and Former Grant Thornton CEO’s New Gig | 06.02.16

IRS phone scams

Despite a close call, we've yet to receive word about an accountant falling for the phony IRS agent phone scam. I think we all know that the likelihood of a scammer convincing an accountant to pay his or her taxes with, say, an iTunes gift card is slim. I think we also know that some accountants will receive a phone call from an Imposter Revenue Service agent, know that the imposter is an imposter, and play along for the sheer bliss of screwing with said imposter. See: Sam Antar, former CFO of Crazy Eddie.

Apparently, this tactic has also caught on with others, who then choose to share their ideas on Facebook. Here's Kelly Phillips Erb writing at Forbes:

[W]hile some of the scammers have been convincing enough to steal over $36.5 million from nearly 6,400 victims in the past couple of years – the biggest scam of its type – many taxpayers have been able to determine that the calls are a scam and have not become a victim. Many of these same taxpayers have posted tips on Facebook and other social media for dealing with scammers. The advice ranges from blowing whistles in the phone to trying to “catch” the scammers at their own game by challenging their questions. Many of those same pieces of advice are being re-posted as though they might be effective. They are not.

For the life of me, I don't know why anyone would share tips on Facebook for turning the tables on IRS crank yankers, but then, I don't know why anyone shares half the things they share on Facebook. Blowing whistles into the phone? Come on. Stick to spouting your partisan political opinions, people.


Here's a story about Svetlana Blackburn, a former Oracle employee, who claims she was fired for "complaining about improper accounting practices in Oracle's cloud services business."

Blackburn said her bosses instructed her to add millions of dollars of accruals for expected business "with no concrete or foreseeable billing to support the numbers," and said executives above her added accruals on their own.

That sounds like a pretty frustrating situation; your bosses ask you to create revenue out of thin air and when you don't, they go ahead and create the revenue themselves. What is a little strange, however, is the timing:

Blackburn said Oracle terminated her employment on Oct. 15 last year, one month after the alleged wrongdoing began and two months after she received a positive performance review.

She said Oracle had come to view her as "more of a roadblock than a team player who would blindly generate financial reports using improper bases in order to justify the bottom lines that her superiors demanded to see."

I think we should give whistleblowers the benefit of the doubt, however, the timeline seems a little short to me. Usually, the aggressive revenue recognition goes on for awhile before someone complains internally. In this case, Oracle decided that they wanted to book some revenue last September, Ms. Blackburn seems to have complained immediately and she was gone a month later. Usually the back and forth between a concerned accountant and management drags on for awhile before that accountant is shown the door after an unexpected, horrendous performance review. In this case, it all happened in 30 days! That's efficient whistleblower retaliation, Oracle!

In any case, this story got a fair amount of coverage yesterday but I do want to recognize The Register for the best headline: "Oracle pulled made-up cloud figures out of its SaaS." 

Accounting firm CEO moves

Former Grant Thornton CEO Stephen Chipman will become the new CEO of Radius Worldwide, "a single-source provider of global expansion services and solutions."  Here's a buzzy quote:

“Through my years in this industry, I’ve always pushed the boundaries of innovation, and I’m excited and energized by what the Radius team has built,” said Chipman. “The unique combination of accounting, finance, banking, tax, HR, legal and compliance experts, expansion-related processes and technology delivers what can best be described as ‘expansion-as-a-service.’ This is a highly differentiated offering, and the timing is perfect as international growth has now reached the top of managements’ agendas.”

Previously, on Going Concern…

I mentioned an EY employee who is facing charges after child porn was found on a thumb drive and his laptop. The New York Daily News reports that he was "immediately fired." And in Open Items, someone asks: What are my IT audit folks doing now after leaving the Big 4?

In other news:

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