How eDiscovery Complements Forensic Accounting
15th October 2017
Forensic accounting has emerged over the years as a technique designed to investigate fraud or to analyse financial data for use in legal proceedings.
This process can now be further enhanced with the addition of advanced digital forensics and the use of data analytics.
Forensic accounting is a combination of accounting, auditing and investigative services. The analysis derived from forensic accounting provides a trusted platform from which dispute resolution can be initiated. The litigation support and investigative accounting enables a professional to present financial information to a high standard within a courtroom setting.
The benefits of technology have been apparent in litigation circles for a number of years. The ability to upload vast amounts of information and provide an accessible review platform has proved a complete game-changer, so much so that eDiscovery is now considered to be one of the most potent tools in a litigator’s locker.
Although well established in the sector, the dispute resolution arena does not have a monopoly on the attention of digital forensic providers. Increasingly, those in the forensic accounting sector are taking note of the benefits that data analytics and forensics can offer their investigations.
Given that both litigation and financial investigation work towards the same judicial end, staples of the eDiscovery workplace such as OCR (Optical Character Recognition), online review platforms and de-duplication software also act to streamline the way forensic accountants conduct their reviews. What’s more, the act of correctly forensically imaging the device from which the evidence is found reinforces the all-important legitimacy of an investigators report.
The ability to digitise all potentially relevant documents, filter out unwanted data, batch together related files, and most importantly provide a user-friendly software with which to analyse the remaining data has never been more beneficial. What was once achieved in a cramped room full of box upon box of lever-arch files can now be done with a single laptop from anywhere in the world.
Another more digital forensics based aspect that is exceptionally beneficial is the ability to potentially recover deleted data from digital devices. ‘Imaging’ mobile phones and computers provides a forensically sound copy of all the information held on the specific device. This is a technique that preserves the forensic integrity of the exhibit and can be relied upon in court.
The need for these services is such that the largest practices have – for some time – been using in-house digital forensic teams, both to supplement their forensic accounting departments and also to provide the same services to their commercial and legal sector clients.
However, for most, this is simply not a cost effective means of gaining access to such tools. At CYFOR, we recognise how such tools could be useful to sole-traders all the way through to Top 10 practices, and as such offer competitive, fixed-price quotes to accommodate assignments across the board.