Contributed by Thomas Kenney, Executive Program Chair for Accounting, Globe University
Read on to discover the exploits of a jailed con artist…
David Whitaker, now serving a prison sentence for fraud, has a lot of time to think. He spends a lot of time thinking about “the people hurt by the pill problem in America”, including those affected by his online pill shop that landed him in prison.
His “professional” experience in this “industry” was sought out by federal investigators who, with David’s help, orchestrated an undercover sting in 2009 that resulted in Google forfeiting $500 million. That forfeiture allowed Google to avoid criminal prosecution for allegations that it improperly profited from ads promoting Canadian pharmacies that illegally imported drugs into the United States.
What did authorities claim Google was responsible for? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigators found that Google employees helped create advertising on Google’s AdWords system for products they were told were manufactured overseas and did not require customers to have a valid prescription. “Once they knew you had the money to spend, they let you advertise,” Whitaker said. As a result of this operation, Google announced new restrictions for online pharmacies seeking to advertise with AdWords.
Whitaker said he thinks the Google representatives did what they did because of greed. “I believe these are good people. I think that good people often do get caught up in greed and greed causes them to do things they don’t mean to do,” he said.
Forensic accountants and fraud examiners helped uncover Whitaker’s fraud, and he in turned aided in the investigation of Google. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) notes that all frauds are the result of three things – pressure, rationalization and opportunity. This knowledge, in addition to other skills that were needed to conduct this investigation are taught in Globe University’s Bachelors in Forensic Accounting program. Contact a Globe University representative to see how you may be able to work on similar projects after graduation!