Up until now, the easiest way to verify a CPA license was to check with the individual state boards for license information. That's great if you know the state in which the CPA in question might be licensed but what if you need to do a broad, nationwide search?
Enter CPAverify, NASBA's central repository of information about licensed CPAs in participating state boards. Wondering if the new guy from out of state really did pass the CPA exam three years ago? Considering getting in on the ground floor on a suspiciously Ponzi-like investment scheme headed up by an alleged CPA? This is your tool.
I tested it on Colin and can verify that he is – as he claims – inactive AND also has a pretty lame middle name. See? Good times.
I also tested it on known criminal Sam Antar and while it accurately describes him as a former CPA in the state of New York, it fails to point out any disciplinary actions – most likely because, as far as I know, the state never actually took away Sam's license after he ratted on the Crazy Eddie empire and took a sweet deal to keep most of his freedom but very little of his criminal dignity. If you pull up the license information, it simply states, "Licensee has allowed the registration to lapse without explanation." If you didn't know any better, you might simply think Sam was too busy to do his required CPE the year his license was last up for renewal. I checked with the New York state board of accountancy to see if they had more information than CPAverify but alas, Sam shows up as "surrendered," which again sounds more like he got too busy to renew than busted by the feds for participating in a massive fraud.
The tool also confirms that alleged child pornography hoarder Jeff Bainter is a licensed CPA up until September 30, 2013. True, Bainter has only been arrested and charged – not convicted – so it makes sense that his license would still be intact at this point.
Or how about Madoff "auditor" David Friehling? According to CPAverify, he is inactive in the state of NY and received his license in 1987. It doesn't mention that he signed off on one of the largest frauds in American history. Friehling lost his license in July of 2010, over a year after his arrest. So while the CPAverify record is technically correct in that Friehling is not technically an active CPA, it might be nice to have some details for anyone looking to hire him to keep the books on their jailhouse cigarette smuggling operation. If he ever actually gets sentenced, that is.
So while it is useful to have one place for would-be clients and stalkers to look up everything they need to know about the CPAs in their lives, greater information sharing between NASBA and participating state boards could be helpful. Just sayin.