Chicago-based Digital Ethics & Anti-Fraud Startup to Host New Debate Forum

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“The $53 Million Question: Who’s Responsible for Catching Fraud?” Will Explore Dixon IL Fraud and the Role of the Audit

Chicago-based ethics and anti-fraud training firm, Helios Digital Learning, today announced the launch of its new, annual debate forum. The inaugural event, “The $53 Million Question: Who’s responsible for Catching Fraud?” will be held on April 29, 2014 at 5:30pm at Venue SIX10 in Chicago. Expert panelists Devon C. Bruce and Tom Golden will debate the role of the audit against the backdrop of the largest municipal fraud in U.S. history in which a municipal comptroller stole more than $53 million over the course of 20 years before the fraud was accidentally discovered.

The debate was inspired by Helios Digital Learning founder and white collar crime expert Kelly Richmond Pope’s work on the firm’s documentary “All the Queen’s Horses” which is currently in production. The documentary explores the fraud, its impact and the failure to detect it. For the documentary, Pope interviewed a number of individuals including audit experts, U.S. Marshalls, white collar crime experts and Dixon residents to determine how comptroller Rita Crundwell was able to successfully steal $53 million from the small town over the course of 20 years undetected while living an openly lavish lifestyle which included owning and showcasing 400 quarter horses at competitions around the world. Subsequent to Crundwell's conviction, the city of Dixon sued its auditor, accountants and bank, settling their claims against them for $40 million. “A lot of the blame was put squarely on the shoulders of the auditors in this particular instance, so it will be interesting to get both perspectives live,” said Pope.

Devon Bruce is a partner at the law firm of Powers, Rogers & Smith and was the lead attorney for the city of Dixon in the lawsuit against its auditors. Tom Golden is a retired PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Partner and former Partner-In-Charge of the Chicago Investigations & Forensic Services practice. The debate will be moderated by Tom Contiliano, financial journalist and chief of client relations for Bloomberg News.

“Big frauds begin with small lapses and no organization is immune. An awareness of how fraud begins and an understanding of the fact that our relationships with others can actually prevent us from seeing the obvious are important and should go hand in hand with updated ethics training techniques,” said Ivy Walker, Helios Digital Learning co-founder and CEO. “That’s what Helios Digital specializes in.”

The event is being co-sponsored by the Illinois CPA Society and the Illinois State Bar Association. Attendees will be able to receive both CPE and CLE credits.

“The Illinois CPA Society is proud to partner with Helios Digital Learning to present a lively and engaging debate about fraud, an increasing issue in the business community,” said Todd Shapiro, President of the Illinois CPA Society. “The event will inform and educate the profession and the public—better equipping all to identify and prevent these crimes in the future.”

“The Illinois State Bar Association is also pleased to be a co-sponsor for this debate forum,” said J. Randall Cox, Vice-Chair of the ISBA Standing Committee on Continuing Legal Education and partner at Feldman, Wasser, Draper & Cox in Springfield, IL. “The program will challenge attorneys to consider their role in uncovering fraud under the lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct as well as discuss attorney client confidentiality obligations – all in the context of improving public trust and promoting justice.”

Gold sponsors of the event include the Institute of Certified Small Business Anti-Fraud Advisors ( and Data Defenders ( Additional sponsorship opportunities are available. Please contact Ivy Walker at (312) 789-4470, x101 for more information.

Tickets to attend the event are $60 and can be purchased at

About Helios Digital Learning
Helios Digital Learning is an ethics and anti-fraud training firm that specializes in using the power of storytelling to help professionals and students strengthen their ethical decision making. We deliver engaging first-person stories as told by white-collar felons, their victims, experts and whistleblowers covering fraud and ethical lapses ranging from embezzlement to financial statement fraud. We use this approach because science has shown that storytelling engages both sides of the brain and enables individuals to virtually simulate situations described in the stories they are hearing. This virtual simulation increases the likelihood that individuals will integrate the lessons they learn and put them to use when confronted with actual ethical dilemmas. Helios Digital provides online and live training for corporations and governments as well as educational tools that are integrated into business and legal curricula in higher learning institutions. For more information, please visit

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Ivy Walker
Helios Digital Learning
+1 (312) 789-4470 Ext: 101
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