Analyst Rightly Grew Suspicious of Gorgeous Woman Who Laughed at His Accounting Jokes

AmTrust accounting

“And then I said, ‘It’s accrual world!'”

Earlier this year, we discussed a tradecrafty story out of The Wall Street Journal of a BDO auditor who “casually wandered around the accounting firm’s New York offices, striking up conversations with colleagues.” Little did anyone know, the auditor recorded those conversations for the Federal Bureau of Investigation with “a tiny recording device disguised as an ordinary Starbucks gift card” about AmTrust Financial Services, an audit client.

You see, AmTrust’s accounting practices have come under scrutiny of many interested parties besides the FBI, including the Securities and Exchange Commission, Harry Markopolos’s merry band of fraud-busters, and a slew of short-sellers. This scrutiny has put lots of pressure on the company. AmTrust announced a big restatement back in April, and its stock has been trading near its 52-week low ever since.

And now a new story from the Journal reports that some “mysterious strangers” have been popping around AmTrust’s most notable critics. One of these involved an analyst at research firm at GeoInvesting, and his suspicions grew for a very obvious reason:

Chris Irons, an analyst at research firm GeoInvesting LLC, which has published several reports critical of AmTrust’s accounting practices, said he was contacted in July by a woman who identified herself as a London-based consultant to a European software multimillionaire seeking contributors to a new investment website. He agreed to meet at a Philadelphia-area restaurant.

At the dinner, Mr. Irons said, the woman, whom he described as gorgeous, plied him with drinks and slipped in several questions about critiques of AmTrust and its accounting methods. “It was the second or third follow-up question on AmTrust that gave me a lot of pause,” he said, adding that she “laughed at many things I said that probably weren’t that funny.”

Okay, maybe we took some liberties with the headline, but if a gorgeous woman is throwing liquor at you, asking questions about a company’s questionable accounting, some corny wisecracks are going to get thrown in. That’s just a fact. Of course, if she keeps asking about the accounting, and the jokes keep getting worse, even the densest of men will recognize when the laughs start ringing hollow.

In this case, the analyst’s suspicions were right. “Diana Ilic” turned out to be a phony name and the consulting firm she purportedly worked for had a mailbox drop as its London address. This suspicious encounter was one of many experienced by critics of AmTrust since last summer, but the only one that we suspect to have involved the  enjoyment of accounting humor under false pretenses.


Image: iStock/Bobex-73

Related articles

Layoff Watch ’19: Walmart Accountants and Finance Workers In Charlotte, NC

The Charlotte Business Journal reported last week on some doom-and-gloom news for Walmart accountants based in the Queen City: Retail giant Walmart Inc. will lay off hundreds in Charlotte starting later this year as it outsources its finance and accounting operations. The retailer filed a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification with the N.C. Department of Commerce this […]

Thumbs down BDO LLP

Auditor Swap: AZZ Says Buh-Bye to BDO USA, Hires Grant Thornton

Auditor shopping has made the news a little more than usual of late, with high-profile companies like Fitbit and Goldman Sachs in the U.K. both kicking PwC to the curb in favor of a fresh, new set of eyes. Then there’s General Electric, which might end its century-old relationship with KPMG after this year. While […]