UW business students get close look at IRS criminal investigations

Internal Revenue Service Agent Cindy Hearn, second from left, speaks with UW students, from left, Jazmin Jara, of Greybull; Bailey Schramm, of Kemmerer; Taylor Seagrave, of Cheyenne; and Annalee Sorensen, of Colorado Springs, Colo. UW College of Business students received a firsthand look at IRS criminal investigations during an exercise earlier this month on the UW campus. (UW Photo)

LARAMIE, WYOMING (Oct. 24, 2019) — Nearly 30 University of Wyoming accounting and finance program students received a firsthand look at Internal Revenue Service criminal investigations during an exercise earlier this month on the UW campus.

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The Adrian Project, developed by the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), is a daylong interactive experience in which UW students participate in mock criminal investigations. UW students worked alongside about a dozen IRS special agents to crack simulated white-collar crime cases, including identity theft and money laundering.

The request for this program at UW came from the IRS Criminal Investigation Division, says Mac Festa, an assistant professor in the Department of Accounting and Finance. This is the third time IRS officials have reached out to Festa to hold the program on the UW campus.

“The Department of Accounting and Finance was excited to welcome the IRS to the College of Business for the third annual Adrian Project,” Festa said. “This experience allows our students to gain practical experience investigating financial crimes by putting them in the shoes of a typical IRS criminal investigations special agent.”

The Criminal Investigation Division started the Adrian Project in 2002 as a way of introducing college accounting students to the agency and the work the division agents conduct, said Andy Tsui, an IRS criminal investigation special agent in charge. The event is named after Michigan’s Adrian College, where the first event took place.

“This one-day program turns the students into ‘special agents’ for the day, investigating hypothetical financial crimes that are based on real investigations that include a return preparer identity theft ring, a small business owner skimming the proceeds and a drug trafficker investigation,” Tsui said. “The Adrian Project not only exposes students to alternative careers they may not have thought about, but also provides them with a day of skill enhancements in areas which can benefit them in their careers going forward.”

During the program, UW participants conducted interviews, reviewed financial documents, performed surveillance, carried out undercover operations, and executed search and arrest warrants — including the use of mock firearms, handcuffs and bullet-proof vests. The exercise demonstrated how to detect fraud and the investigation skills used by IRS criminal investigators every day in solving real financial crimes.

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UW students used forensic accounting techniques to solve the cases. Students also learned interviewing and surveillance techniques, documented analysis and participated in defensive training. All activities took place in and around the College of Business Building.

Area students who participated in the exercise are Kaylee Hardesty of Rock Springs, Bailey Schramm of Kemmerer, and Earlaine Arellano of Rawlins.

For more information, call Festa at (307) 766-5438 or email [email protected].

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