7 TV Shows/Movies that Highlight Forensic Accountants


By Staff Writer Published on March 29, 2018

Forensic accounting is a fast-growing specialty area of law enforcement. Accountants in this field use their financial expertise to analyze business and tax records in search of any evidence of corruption, embezzlement, or any other illegal activity or peculiarities that pertain to ongoing investigations. Oftentimes they are CPAs who most often work with state or federal law enforcement, such as the FBI or the Secret Service, or for large accounting firms or other companies.

The job title sounds obscure, but their unique skill set is indispensable in cases of fraud, tax evasion, or other forms of white-collar crime. Still not convinced that accounting can be exciting? Here are some movies and TV shows that feature the kind of criminal activity typically investigated by forensic accountants.

Wall Street (1987)

This drama stars Michael Douglas, Charlie Sheen, and Daryl Hannah. Sheen plays Bud Fox, a young, hungry stockbroker who is eager to rise through the ranks. His hero is a legendary Wall Street broker named Gordon Gekko (Douglas), who ends up taking Bud under his wing and the two get involved in illegal insider trading using information Bud had obtained from a casual conversation with his father.

The Untouchables (1987)

Starring big names such as Kevin Costner, Robert De Niro, and Charles Martin Smith, The Untouchables is a gangster film that takes place during Prohibition in 1930, when Al Capone controlled all of Chicago. Agent Eliot Ness (played by Costner) and accountant Oscar Wallace (Smith) are put on the case to stop Capone (De Niro) by going after his illegal liquor caches. When that fails, they change tactics and decide to try the tax evasion angle after Wallace learns that Capone hasn’t filed his tax returns for several years.

The Other Guys (2010)

Will Ferrell stars as the soft-spoken forensic accountant Allen Gamble, and Mark Wahlberg as his short-fused partner, Terry Hoitz. The Other Guys is a comedy about the behind-the-scenes office boys inadvertently taking over the role of the spotlight detectives. The city’s two best detectives, played by Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson, accidentally die after overestimating their ability to survive a fall. When Allen and Terry go to investigate what seems to be a simple permit violation, they end up stumbling into a much deeper and more dangerous case of corporate fraud and corruption.

White Collar (2009-2014)

The unique premise of this crime drama series revolves around the working relationship of a con artist and an FBI special agent. Neal Caffrey (played by Matt Bomer) is a renowned thief and forger who cuts a deal with the FBI agent who had put him in prison, Peter Burke (Tim DeKay). Neal offers to work as a consultant for the FBI—to help them put away other con artists and white collar criminals—in exchange for a shorter prison sentence.

Barbarians at the Gate (1993)

This made-for-TV movie is based on a book of the same name, written by Bryan Burrough and John Helyar. It centers around the real-life event of the RJR Nabisco leveraged buyout in 1988. The CEO, F. Ross Johnson, decides to buy the company himself, but others get wind of his plans and a bidding war soon begins.

Trading Places (1983)

Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy star in this comedy film about a wealthy stockbroker (Aykroyd) and a homeless street hustler (Murphy) who trade places as a result of a bet between the two owners of a brokerage firm. The owners are brothers who have opposing opinions on the age-old nature-versus-nurture debate. To settle their argument, they decide to switch the lives of two people at opposite ends of the socioeconomic status spectrum and watch what happens.

Suits (2011-2017)

This legal drama series focuses on Mike Ross (played by Patrick J. Adams), a gifted college dropout who works as an associate for the attorney Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht), even though he never went to law school. The show centers around Mike and Harvey working together to solve cases and keeping Mike’s lack of a law degree a secret.

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