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Accounting News Roundup: Deep Dive on IRS Phone Scams and ‘Anti-GAAP’ Metrics | 01.06.17

IRS phone scams

Although large raids in India have more or less put IRS Scams, Inc. out of business, the details of the operation are still coming out. This New York Times article reports the incredible stories of two former call center employees — Jayesh Dubey and Pawan Poojary —  who claim to have been the whistleblowers. Their initial motive for getting the jobs were, of course, money, but something else, too:

“At that time, in my mind is that I want money,” Mr. Poojary, 18, said. “That’s it. I want money. That’s why.”

Mr. Poojary was excited and nervous about speaking to an American for the first time, and he was alarmed by the resulting bursts of profanity. Mr. Dubey said he tried to commit the entire experience to memory, in case he and Mr. Poojary someday decided to start a business of their own.

“I just wanted to become a great scammer,” Mr. Dubey said. “Everyone was scamming around me. I thought, ‘I will also become a great scammer.’”

The key to the whole thing, Mr. Dubey decided, was a psychological fact: Americans fear their state.

Dubey and Poojary were fired from their jobs at the call center "after an altercation" and officials dispute their claims to have brought down the operation. It's still a good story, embellishing teenagers notwithstanding.

Adventures in non-GAAP accounting

Here's a Financial Times article lamenting not only the prolific use of non-GAAP measures, but also "anti-GAAP" reporting. These are the metrics that "go off-piste" and "bear no relation to GAAP." They include "bookings and backlogs" and other measurements that have little to do with accounting:

Marc Siegel, a board member at the Financial Accounting Standards Board, says “anti-GAAP” calculations such as these are rarely consistent from company to company. Sometimes the company will change its own definition from one year to the next. And unlike non-GAAP metrics, which require a reconciliation back to GAAP in every instance, in every period, companies don’t have to reconcile anti-GAAP to anything.

I may have mentioned it before, but I think the real risk of custom reporting isn't the non-GAAP metrics, it's the non-non-GAAP metrics. When companies report that they're experiencing 1,000% growth in "revenue per customer experience" it doesn't really mean anything. There's no context because it's special number that only applies to the company whose creators came up with it. So I have to admit, the one thing GAAP — and even non-GAAP — measures has going for it is: context.


The Wall Street Journal reports that outgoing SEC chair Mary Jo White doesn't think her agency should give up on IFRS, but she's unlikely to do anything about it in the next two weeks. Assuming he's confirmed, it'll be Jay Clayton's issue to ignore for the next four years.

Previously, on Going Concern…

I wrote about a centenarian CPA who can remember when PwC wasn't so committed to diversity. In Open Items, someone wonders if insider trading will become legal under President Trump.

In other news:

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