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financial coaching money management personal finance podcasts Sep 16, 2022

Tracy Coenen joins Tiffany this week to drop gems on everything you need to know to feel empowered, and take control of your finances during divorce.

About Our Guest

Tracy Coenen has been investigating fraud for more than 25 years, but she didn’t always want to be a forensic accountant. With a dream of one day being a prison warden, Tracy went to Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI to get a criminology degree. A class on financial crime investigations reminded her how much she loved Encyclopedia Brown books as a kid. She continued her criminology degree but added accounting and economics courses so she could sit for the CPA exam… and here Tracy is, finding money in cases of corporate fraud, high net worth divorce, and other financial shenanigans.

Connect with Tracy

Instagram: @divorcemoneyguide

Divorce Money Guide Website

Use code MONEYTALKS for $100 off any package!

Connect with Tiffany on Social Media

Facebook: Money Talk With Tiff
Twitter: @moneytalkwitht
Instagram: @moneytalkwitht
LinkedIn: Tiffany Grant



Episode 133

[00:00:00] Intro/Outro: You know what it is. That's right. It's time to talk money with your money nerd and financial coach. Now tighten those purse strings and open those ears. It's the money talk with TIF podcast.

[00:00:15] Tiffany Grant: Hey everyone. And welcome to another episode of the money. Talk with TIF podcast. So today I have Tracy Conan on the line. Now Tracy has been investigating. Fraud for more than 25 years, but she didn't always want to be a forensic accountant with a dream of one day being a prison warden. Hmm Tracy went to Marquette university in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to get a criminology degree, a class on financial crime investigations reminded her how much she loved encyclopedia brown books.

As a kid, I love to redo. She continued her criminology degree, but added accounting and economics courses. So she could sit for the CPA exam. And here Tracy is finding money in cases of corporate fraud, high net worth divorce and other financial shenanigans. So, you know, we are gonna dive into that. So thank you so much, Tracy, for coming on the show

[00:01:03] Tracy Coenen: today.

Thanks for having me. I love it. When anyone lets me talk about what I love to do.

[00:01:09] Tiffany Grant: Oh, yes. And you are the expert. So I'll be asking you all types of questions. So with that being said, let's get into what forensic accounting is, because I think most people, including myself have a slight idea, but really don't understand.

What that looks like. So what is a forensic accountant?

[00:01:27] Tracy Coenen: It's financial investigations. It's fraud investigations. So I just say I find money. I spend a lot of time looking at bank statements and credit card statements and trying to figure out where money was spent, how it was spent, where it ended up what's not accounted for and things like that.

Super exciting to me. I know it's not exciting to everyone else to do all this detailed money work, but I love it because it's putting together a puzzle, solving a mystery about the money.

[00:01:52] Tiffany Grant: Oh, yes. And before we hopped on, I was like, I was telling you I love true crime. So of course I was like, Ooh, like American greed type stuff.

And so with that being said, You work with corporations and people going through high net worth divorces. In cases of corporate fraud, like what kind of stuff are you looking at looking for? If you don't mind us asking,

[00:02:14] Tracy Coenen: I'm looking at things, typically executives, upper level managers, stealing money from companies, all sorts of different schemes from literally taking customer payments to stealing inventory, to having.

Side deals with suppliers where they're getting kickbacks just finding creative ways to take money outta companies for themselves. So that's on the corporate side. What's interesting. There is sometimes I work for the companies who have been victims. Sometimes I work for the person who has been accused of stealing.

And that might be in a criminal case because they've got charges now for embezzlement, or it might be a civil case where the company is just trying to get their money back from them. And some people as CPAs, don't like working on the defense side because they think there's something a little bit dirty about it, but I always say.

Listen, if you stole a million dollars, but you were being accused of stealing $3 million, I think you should get punished for the million, not the three, right? So you deserve to have someone like me help you to prove what the real number is, what, whatever that may be. Cuz I don't care. I mean stealing's wrong, but at the end of the day, I just wanna know what the right number is.

[00:03:22] Tiffany Grant: Absolutely. Absolutely. That is so interesting. So just outta curiosity, because I'm sure I'm not the only person with this question right now. What is the highest amount in corporate fraud you have found to date?

[00:03:36] Tracy Coenen: That's a really good question. I've been doing this for 25 years. I don't even know.

It's in the millions for sure. But what's interesting is, there's equally as many cases that I work where it's like a couple hundred thousand dollars, which by the way is a lot of money, but in the scheme of business for some of these companies, it's not that much. Absolutely.

So yeah,

[00:03:57] Tiffany Grant: absolutely. So let's switch gears a little bit, cuz I wanna go into this high net worth divorce thing. So that's another aspect that you also help people with. So when people are in relationships, which I think I've talked about on the podcast, but if not, there's financial infidelity, all types of things and.

Especially, it goes way outta hand when people start, going through the divorce process. So what as people like just everyday people, what should we be looking for? When it comes to seeing if someone is being, Financially not okay with us.

[00:04:34] Tracy Coenen: right. So when people are in relationships or if they are now in the process of separating and divorcing, kind of doesn't matter where you are on that spectrum at any time, I always say to look for changes in behavior.

So sometimes specifically surrounding money, so maybe someone gets more controlling about the money or they won't let you see a bank statement. Or they won't let you have access to an account or they make you justify. every time you spend money. Those are changes in behavior. If that wasn't your norm and all of a sudden they're being more difficult about the money, that's a problem, but also changes in behavior like being more secretive with their phone or being more secretive with their whereabout.

Because those things the first thing I think of is affairs like that they might be involved in affairs, but they also could be involved in addictions like gambling or drugs. They might be hiding their phone because they're doing something inappropriate with the money and they don't want you to see the alerts that are coming on their phone, saying your count is overdrawn or things like that.

So there's all sorts of reasons that there could be these changes. But that is probably one of the most common things that I see in the divorce cases that I work on is. Someone says, everything seemed fine. And then all of a sudden her behavior started to change.

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Absolutely. And I wanna add one more thing that I actually personally experience, but like when they start trying to use cash all the time because oh honey cash. Yes. Oh honey.

[00:06:44] Tracy Coenen: So one of the things I talk about in terms of cash is when you have a spouse or a partner who. Did not go to the ATM, did not withdraw cash did not hold back cash from their paycheck that they were depositing, but all of a sudden they are, and you're seeing, okay, a $500 withdrawal two or three times a week when previously they never went to the ATM before.

Huge problem. Now, if you ask them, why are you taking out all this money? They're probably gonna say, oh, I'm putting in my gas tank. I'm putting, I'm eating out with it. I'm using at the grocery store. But if you look at their credit card bill or their bank statement for their debit card, you. Phillips at the gas station, eating out grocery store.

Wait a second. I thought that's what you're using the cash for. So what we find is the cash is either being set aside in a secret account and they're accumulating it or that cash is being spent on what I call sex drugs and rock and roll affairs, addictions gambling. God only knows.

[00:07:41] Tiffany Grant: And, I know with my situation, the excuse was, oh, I just like to have cash in my pocket.

And I'm just like, mm .

[00:07:50] Tracy Coenen: I almost never use cash. I mean, I go to an ATM once. Every other month. You just can't bring me to use cash because I love using a debit card or a credit card. So I have a record of exactly what I've been spending on. It's so helpful for budgeting, right?

[00:08:05] Tiffany Grant: Mm-hmm exactly. And that's what was driving me crazy, cuz that's how, all of that came to a head is because I love to budget.

And so I'm like, Well, if you use your card, we can kind of track, what's going on. We can make sure it's accounted for the budget, blah, blah, blah. And then it'd be like, oh yeah. Okay. And then next thing you know, is more cash again. And so I'm just like, okay if you wanna use cash, just let me know what you use it on.

And then it was like, oh, well, I don't remember. And I don't and yeah. you remember?

[00:08:36] Tracy Coenen: Right. I don't remember exactly what

[00:08:38] Tiffany Grant: it was for. It's crazy. All right. So with that being said, so we know what to look for now. If we do find that our spouse is being, secretive or, there might be something else going on, whatever, what are our next steps?

What should we


[00:08:55] Tracy Coenen: Well, let me just be clear there. Tons of red flags that you could see. So we've just like touched the tip of the iceberg with this change in behavior and things like that. But if you do have some suspicions and you have, I like to say you kind of have something to back it up, right?

You have actual behaviors. You don't just have, I think my guy is being dishonest and not saying the story. You don't have anything. If you got something to back. And you're really, really concerned. I say start gathering information. So that means start downloading bank statements and credit card statements and tax returns start saving copies of all those things in a secure place that your partner doesn't have access to because your best friend, if you end up separating or getting divorced, your best friend is gonna be information.

And if you have legal access to those documents, now get 'em save them. Protect.

[00:09:48] Tiffany Grant: Mm, that's really good. Because that is not something that you think about, like when you're in the moment, right. It's not like, oh, let me go back and pull all these records just in case things get stuck.

[00:09:58] Tracy Coenen: It sounds so easy once I say it but prior to that, it was like probably not on most people's

[00:10:02] Tiffany Grant: radar.

Not at all, not at all. And. As we collect all those documents and things like that. Are there resources out there and I'm kind of teeing this up. I'm kind of cheating, but are there, are there resources out there that can help people just everyday people that are going through these types of situations?


[00:10:22] Tracy Coenen: of course there is one big resource out there called the divorce money guide. Thank you, TIFF, for setting it up. So as you already know the divorce money guide is my new product that just came out a couple months ago and it is to help average people who are trying to sort out their money situation.

Potentially because they're in a divorce, cuz it's called the divorce money guide. But if you are even in a situation where separation is possible, divorce is possible and you need to know what is going on with the money. It walks you through the steps of how do you get your financial documents? How do you organize them?

What do you do with them once you have 'em? What can you look for in these documents? Even though you're not a forensic accountant, you're not gonna be a forensic accountant. What can an average person look for in these documents to see if there's money missing or inappropriate spend.

[00:11:09] Tiffany Grant: Oh, my gosh. Like I'm like, I need to go ahead and download two dad.

But yes, I'm sure that is super helpful. Especially for people. Like once I went through my situation, I realized how common this type of stuff is. Even for instance, as soon as you separate Everything. Just kind of like all morals and stuff. Just go out the window for some people. And so that's in my experience where it gets even worse.

If there was any financial infidelity or fraud or whatever Because now they're in preservation mode. And so they're really trying to hoard money and, move stuff around and whatever the case may be. So I love that you have a resource out there available, cuz I had never heard of such a resource and I'm like, dang, where were you?

Like what, when did I get separated December? We're were you when I was going into BI separation, but you're here now, so I can go ahead and it's never too.

[00:12:03] Tracy Coenen: It's never too late. You didn't know that there was such a thing because there never has been before. Mm-hmm . So what has typically happened in divorces is people have said to their divorce attorney.

Now I'm suspicious about what's been going on with the money and how my spouse spent it. And the divorce attorney says you could get a forensic account and it's gonna cost you 10 or $15,000 to have someone help you go through all this. And 90% of people in. Can't afford that they've already paid a lot for their divorce attorney.

Right? Mm-hmm . And so they were told, well, I'm sorry, if you can't hire a forensic accountant, there's not gonna be anything we can do about this. Well, how fair is that, you've already been taking advantage of potentially you have a right to know, and by the way, even if you don't think that your spouse has been taking advantage financially or doing something inappropriate, you still have a right to know what the money has been spent on.

Mm-hmm so I still encourage you to go through it. So I came up with this concept. Back in February. And I said, why can't there be a resource for people? Why can't someone make a resource for people from the point of view of forensic accounting? So I made it

[00:13:03] Tiffany Grant: awesome. And I am so grateful for that, cuz I'm sure it will change a lot of lives and a lot of different trajectories.

So if people were interested in finding out more about you or this guide, where could they find

[00:13:16] Tracy Coenen: you? They could find me and find the [email protected] and. if they wanna get a hundred dollars off the divorce money guide, they could use a special code. What would we like the code to be? Should it be T.

[00:13:31] Tiffany Grant: Money talk money

[00:13:33] Tracy Coenen: talk. Okay. Money talk in all capital letters, we'll make the code and they can get a hundred dollars

[00:13:38] Tiffany Grant: off. That is awesome. Yes. We love money off on this podcast. Y'all if you didn't catch all of that, I will have all that information in the show notes. So divorce, money, and there will be a code named money.

Talk for you to get a hundred dollars off the program. So thank you so much, Tracy, for being so generous. That's awesome. And thank you so much for being on the show today. Thank you for

[00:14:02] Tracy Coenen: having me. It was great. Fun talking to you and I hope we get to talk again soon.

[00:14:07] Tiffany Grant: Absolutely. Thank you. Bye.

[00:14:10] Intro/Outro: Thank you for listening, joining, and being a part of the money.

Talk with tip podcast this week, you can check, tip out every Thursday for a new money talk podcast, but if you just can't wait until next week, you can listen to. Podcast episodes money, talk with or follow TIFF on all social media platforms at money. Talk with T until next time spend wise by spending less than you make a word to the money wise is always sufficient.

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