Show cover of Scheme


Scheme is a podcast about accounting fraud. Not run-of-the-mill fraud like passing $200 of bad checks, but large-scale frauds involving millions of dollars that ruined people’s lives. Each episode discusses how a fraud was carried out, and what we can learn from it. Scheme is created and produced by Michael McLaughlin, an accounting professor and creator of Edspira.


Episode 17: Waste Management
In the 1990’s, Waste Management was the largest garbage company in the world. But Waste Management had a dirty secret.  Its accounting was nastier than its landfills. 
27:30 7/31/23
Episode 16: Yale Med School
Jamie Petrone was in charge of purchasing computer equipment for Yale's school of business. Petrone was making a fortune, until someone noticed she was buying a lot more electronics than the school needed. What was she doing with all those iPads? The feds decided to follow her and find out.
10:41 5/31/23
Episode 15: Rollins, Inc.
The largest pest control company in the world, Rollins Inc., was accused of manipulating reserves to boost profits. When Rollins achieved its earnings target by just one penny not once but twice, the SEC smelled a rat.
12:02 4/30/23
Episode 14: Contempo
Finding a good controller isn’t easy.  You probably don't want someone who embezzled money from their last two employers.  “What?!?” you’re probably thinking. "No one would hire someone as controller if they stole millions of dollars from their previous employers.”  That’s what I used to think, until I heard the story of Peter Suk Lee.
07:45 3/31/23
Episode 13: Puda Coal
Puda Coal raised over $100 million from U.S. investors.  But suddenly there was a problem: did Puda actually own the subsidiary Shanxi Coal?  Someone claimed Puda’s board chair had secretly transferred the subsidiary to himself.  Had Puda’s subsidiary literally been stolen? 
13:05 2/28/23
Episode 12: Boom Global Media
One of the most difficult things about starting a business is getting clients. You need to work hard to get customers to say “yes”. But what if you didn’t have to get customers to say “yes”? What if you just sent them a bill? “Don’t be ridiculous,” you’re probably thinking, “companies aren’t going to pay you just because you send them a bill." But hold that thought, as I’ve got a story to tell.
06:50 1/31/23
Episode 11: DHB Industries
David Brooks had taken a small company on the verge of bankruptcy and turned it into one of the world’s largest manufacturers of bulletproof vests. Those vests were used by U.S. soldiers, so Brooks was hailed as an American hero. But, problems with the company’s accounting for inventory was just the tip of the iceberg.
27:22 1/1/23
Episode 10: Take-Two Interactive Software
Take-Two Interactive was forced to restate its financials 3 times in a span of just 5 years. Each time you thought it was over, Take-Two ended up in the news again. And the company’s founder was right in the middle of it.
09:59 3/29/21
Episode 9: Cobalt Family Investors
The story of Cobalt involves a former associate of the Wolf of Wall Street, and a Ponzi scheme run by a convicted fraudster. Then, Donald Trump got involved.
10:24 1/12/21
Episode 8: Interpublic Group
Interpublic was forced to restate its financials back to 1997. Had the company committed ANOTHER fraud, right after the first one?
11:41 12/14/20
Episode 7: Capitol Investments
Nevin Shapiro was living the high life, and people assumed his high-roller lifestyle was funded by his business, Capitol Investments. But Shapiro’s business hadn’t conducted operations in years...
06:47 11/5/20
Episode 6: Harvey, Illinois
Satish Gabhawala convinced the city of Harvey to raise $14 million from bond issuances to construct a hotel and 24-hour diner. However, 5 years later the buildings were never finished. Where had the 14 million gone?
12:08 10/5/20
Episode 5: Equity Funding Corporation
Equity Funding Corporation of America reported strong growth for nearly a decade, culminating in a record profit in 1973. But just a few weeks later the firm imploded. It seems the company wrote insurance policies for people who didn’t even exist.
10:26 9/5/20
Episode 4: American Bank Note Holographics
Just 6 months after American Bank Note Holographics' IPO, the company said it needed to restate its financials…A company that had been created to prevent fraud had lied about its revenue.
12:17 8/6/20
Episode 3: Electronic Game Card
Electronic Game Card had created an innovative new product. Sales were growing and the company was profitable. But there was something not quite right about the company…
09:59 7/6/20
Episode 2: Adelphia Communications
In March of 2002, Adelphia was the 6th largest cable TV provider in the U.S.  But then the company made one tiny financial disclosure…and within 3 months it was bankrupt. 
09:25 7/6/20
Episode 1: Homex
In 2013, Homex was the largest real estate development company in Mexico. But just one year later Homex was bankrupt, and under investigation by the SEC.
12:14 7/5/20