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Blake Oliver: [00:00:00] If you'd like to earn CPE credit for listening to this episode, visit earmark Cpcomm. Download the app, take a short quiz and get your CPE certificate. Continuing education has never been so easy. And now on to the episode.
Greg Kyte: [00:00:25] This is Oh My Fraud, a true crime podcast where when our criminals go to trial, there are no bloody gloves. I'm Caleb Newquist. And I'm Greg Kite. Hey, Greg. Have you ever been sued, like, in the in a court of law, or have you ever been to small claims, anything like that? I not personally, I've never been sued personally. But the company that I work for, we we have had multiple threatened lawsuits. So as I've said this before on the podcast, so a lot of people already know this. I'm a controller for a group of medical office buildings. And so these medical office buildings have had some, some yeah, there's been some saber rattling with lawyers that have happened with A tenants and even more so with former tenants. But everything's been settled like long before they've gone to court and even long before they get even that unwieldy. There was this one time we had a we had a an imaging center in one of our medical office buildings. They did like MRIs and CAT scans and stuff like that. And imaging was in their name and they moved out of our building. They went probably a half a mile away and they set up shop there. But our building still had the word imaging on the building and they sued us to well, they threatened to sue.
Greg Kyte: [00:01:50] They, they, they, they, they, yeah. Initiated legal action against us to remove the sign. And I the first letter that came from their attorney, I went to our attorney and was like, do we have to do this? And he's like, No. And I was like, Cool. I didn't think so. So I just threw the letter away. But then listen the best. As soon that's the as soon as soon as he starts doing like actual legal shit, then I've got to do actual legal shit in response. And it took like, it took like no time at all for the legal bills that we accumulated to to just interact with this guy who was full of shit. Like the legal bills far exceeded the cost. It would have taken us that it would have cost just to to change our signage on our building. And so as soon as I saw that, I, I started going, Hey, hey, white flags, knock it off. We'll change the damn sign. Not because we have to, but because this is ridiculous. What's happening? Yeah. Let me ask you from in your personal.
Caleb Newquist: [00:02:54] Experiences with this, was it stressful for you or just like, this is just the job, like this is just part of the thing? Or did you did you like did you take on some of the stress?
Greg Kyte: [00:03:03] Hugely stressful. All of.
Caleb Newquist: [00:03:05] It. Oh, really?
Greg Kyte: [00:03:05] Oh, yeah. It's super stressful every time. And there's any time legal action is threatened against us, it's it's ruins my month because there's so much unknown and you have no idea what what's going to happen if if you're in on legal proceedings against somebody who feels like they're taking a principled stand instead of like a business decision, then they kind of and they got deep pockets. They which was really the case with the imaging sign on our building. He he was mostly just mad at our organization than he was, I think, upset about the sign being on the building. And he he really just wanted to he wanted to hurt somebody. And he didn't care how much it cost him to do it. So when you're in that kind of situation, knowing, knowing that situations can be like that, you never know what the ultimate conclusion is going to be. And yeah, it incredibly stressful, right?
Caleb Newquist: [00:04:07] Because it felt vindictive. Yeah.
Greg Kyte: [00:04:09] Is that right? Yeah.
Caleb Newquist: [00:04:10] Yeah. I mean, I like when I have not been sued and have not had to sue anyone, thank God. Like I feel very fortunate that I've never been like privy to any of that. And I mean, I guess I bring it up because as in a lot of these cases that we talk about, litigation plays a major role in many of these stories because when people lose money, they don't take it very well. Right? It can it can screw up their lives, as we've talked about. Yeah. And but one way to get that money back, or at least to try to get some of it back is to sue the people responsible.
Greg Kyte: [00:04:46] Absolutely. And what's interesting is when you start to think broadly about the people who are responsible, that that'll go that quickly goes beyond just the perpetrator of the fraud. And and in our in our field, the way we see it go is very quickly to the accountants, the auditors, you know, with fraud cases and the when we're talking about Big Four firms, even even well, you don't have to get the big four firms. You get to any decent sized firm. And I would even say any firm that's big enough to do audits has probably got. Deep pockets. So people are going to start going after them. So not just are the perpetrators sued by the victims, but the auditors are often pursued by the victims to be able to recoup some of their losses because those auditors are seen as watchdogs of the companies that they are auditing and specifically of the public companies that they're auditing.
Caleb Newquist: [00:05:46] And today for this episode, we're talking to somebody who has lots of experience suing auditors, big auditors. His name is Steven W-2 Thomas. He's a partner at a law firm called Thomas Alexander and Forrester. And not only does he sue auditors, he wins securing big settlements for his clients. And we talk quite a bit about that. And I thought this was a great conversation. Greg.
Greg Kyte: [00:06:17] Absolutely. Very enlightening.
Caleb Newquist: [00:06:19] Yeah, very enlightening indeed. So let's get right to it. Here's Greg and I talking to Steven Thomas. Steven, thanks for making the time. The way we like to start these things is just we don't like jumping right into the to the hard stuff. So just give us a sense of of your early life, your life growing up where you grew up. What did your parents do? Where did you go to school, Early interests, whatever, whatever, whatever comes to mind. We like to start there so we get a sense of all the people we talk to.
Steven Thomas: [00:06:54] Okay, I was born in Atlanta, Georgia. When I was about eight. My family moved to a little bitty town in southwest Missouri called Carl Junction, Missouri. It's about 1500 people, no stoplight, kind of place, kind of a farming community not too far from the big metropolis of Joplin, Missouri, which at that time had about 35,000 people, I think, in it. And I grew up in Carl Junction. I was the first one, the first person my parents didn't go to college. So my mom stayed at home with us. And my dad, he did various he worked in. What's the printing business like? Have you ever bought like macaroni comes in those bags or sometimes paper like they wrap Burger King sandwiches in And he started out I think as. Splitter helper where they cut it and it became a splitter operator. Then he became a press helper. Then he became a pressman with the big presses. They made it. And eventually he worked himself up to when I was living there. I think he was assistant plant manager. And so that's what he did. But for we, most of those years, you know, we we let's put it this way, we had a great big garden and we ate out of that garden and we can that food and we ate that winter.
Steven Thomas: [00:08:22] So Missouri is a place where southern Missouri gets crazy cold, like, you know, single digits. Oh, wow. A lot of snow. Then it gets really hot in the summer. So my brother and I, we, you know, we had to do stuff like get up and, you know, go break the water and carry water in buckets for the you know, we had some chickens and that kind of thing. And so that was my early life. It's actually a really good place to grow up if you know small town And my it's interesting. Before we get started, you mentioned stand up comedy. My older brother, he was a big he was a big deal because he was valedictorian of our little high school. And that got him a scholarship to the University of Missouri. Nice. And that was a really big deal in my family because, you know, no one no one had been to college before. And my brother went up there for one semester and he came home at Christmas and he said, I'm going to drop out of school and I'm going to do one man shows at like High schools in Soda and North and South Dakota. My parents freaked, but my brother did it. And he went on to become he was a stand up comic for, I don't know, 15 years or 20 years.
Steven Thomas: [00:09:41] And eventually he moved to LA and that's what happened to me. I started out on a football scholarship at a little college in Joplin, Missouri, called Missouri Southern State College. And then I transferred once I figured out I wasn't going to be playing quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, I transferred to University of Missouri, Kansas City, and then I went to Duke to law school. And by then my brother was living in LA and doing stand up. And so I, I worked in LA in New York, in the summers like you do in law school. And I chose LA. And so I started working in the in the LA office of Sullivan and Cromwell, which is a big New York firm. And what attracted me to LA is they were there was only like a partner and two associates. So I started out there and one my contemporaries in New York were, you know, on, you know, basically looking at documents for 3 or 4 years. I was a you know, I did a bunch of depositions and a little a trial in Delaware and various things I got to do early on there. Nice. So that worked out good. My brother eventually became the head writer of Days of Our Lives. No kidding.
Greg Kyte: [00:10:58] Oh, that's right. Oh, interesting. Tv writing jobs. That's a that's a cushy gig. That's sort of where I mean, a lot of comedians are striving for that. But I don't know if their sights are on daytime soaps, but, you know, get get what you can.
Steven Thomas: [00:11:13] Yeah, Yeah, it turned out so.
Greg Kyte: [00:11:15] But Steven, what did you just curious. So Duke was law school I'm assuming what did you study when you were in that that college in Joplin?
Steven Thomas: [00:11:24] I was a psychology major.
Greg Kyte: [00:11:26] Huh. Very interesting. Yeah. And and do you feel like that? Because I've got a buddy who's who was a psychology major. He did one year of he thought he wanted to get his doctorate in, like, research psychology. He did one year that was like, Oh, this is horrible. So he went back and got his MBA. But but it's very interesting because his background in psychology is still very much informs a lot of what he does to this day. He actually has a job in marketing and he feels like that transfers very well to marketing. I've got to assume the same thing is similar for for lawyers and for litigation. Do you do you feel like you dip into that background a fair amount for what you do today?
Steven Thomas: [00:12:04] I certainly did in my early years when we were first trying cases. I think it depends on what kind of psychology you focus on because there's lots and lots of theory, but there's there's a real lessons in psychology about sort of the scientific method and how you actually test and apply it to real behavior. And I think that's done me well done. Me well is doing being a trial lawyer.
Caleb Newquist: [00:12:30] Nice. So those early days at at Sullivan and Cromwell and for the listeners who aren't familiar, Sullivan and Cromwell is a very old, prestigious law firm. I don't remember the year of the founding. Steven, you can probably tell us the year of the founding, But like, what were your what was the early days at. Sullivan? What were. Are those like and how did you kind of find your way there?
Steven Thomas: [00:12:51] Those were good times. I mean, it was really good to me to go to the small office where you got way more responsibilities than the big office and also just a smaller group of people. You know, I was, you know, from a small town, so it was already a lot to be moving to Los Angeles. And I think when I started, there was 4 or 5 of us in litigation and there was only 20 something people in the whole office. So the small group, I think, was better for me to transition to that. And I think the people there were really nice and, you know, we worked really, really hard and I got great experience. So yeah, no, I enjoyed it. Nice.
Greg Kyte: [00:13:32] And then you you made partner at Sullivan and Cromwell and what we know, we're somewhat familiar with the process that it takes to become a partner at an accounting firm. I've got to assume it's similar with a law firm, and I also got to assume it's a big deal. But like, how did was there like a process? What did it take for you to make partner at at that at the law firm there? Was it just that putting in the time and keeping the face time with the other partners?
Steven Thomas: [00:14:03] Well, you know, I didn't have that much face time really with other partners since I was in LA. Oh, right. I mean, I think there was probably 40 or so first years that started with me in litigation. I don't really know, maybe 25. And I think at the end of the day, two of us made partner. So I think a lot of that is self-selection. You just got to stay there, right? You know, everything is just showing up. But I think at a place like Sullivan and Cromwell, where, you know, as you said, like they sort of get the top people from the top law school, at least grade wise. I think what happens when you get there is, you know, everyone's got good grades. Everyone's from these law schools. The difference for me was, you know, here I was a small town public school kid, and most of the other people were, you know, private high school or boarding school or something like that. And and, you know, their parents had been in lawyers or something like that. So for me, it was, you know, more about trying to perform like take. You know, take the opportunity you had and do a good job, whatever it was they were giving you to do.
Greg Kyte: [00:15:16] Right. Well, it sounds like you probably had a great role model with your dad who started. It sounds like pretty much at the bottom of the rung at his factory. And just through dedication, diligence, hard work was able to become the assistant plant manager. Is that did you feel like you applied some of that same sort of mentality to to your time at the law firm?
Steven Thomas: [00:15:36] I think that's exactly what happened to me, not just in law, but basically everything I do in life. I mean, I learned from my dad hard work. And, you know, that's that's something that you take with you your whole life. I mean. Right. I try to teach my kids sort of the same thing. I mean, my dad was basically just a couple of rules. You know, if whatever you do, work hard at it and if you give your word, keep it, you know? I mean, that's what he taught me and that's what I try to teach my kids.
Greg Kyte: [00:16:05] Nice. And how many times when when when some of your boarding school, private high school comrades started bitching about work where you're like these silver spoon assholes, never had to get up at 5 a.m. and break water to take it to the chickens, Was it?
Steven Thomas: [00:16:25] I would say that was almost every day. I mean, I came in with a bit of a chip on my shoulder, you know, and I was, you know, I'll show these rich kids kind of thing. And, you know, probably a lot of that was just in my own head. But, you know, you find what helps you do well. And, you know, everybody you know, I have nothing bad to say about Sullivan and Cromwell. People were super nice to me there. And I really enjoyed my time there. But, you know, people who have the they all have similar backgrounds and you try to take what makes you different and make it work for you. And, you know, that's the way I looked at it.
Greg Kyte: [00:17:07] Gotcha. What? What sort of specializations? I mean, I got to. I don't know. Sullivan Cromwell. Very well. I'm not sure if the firm itself has, like, a niche in a specialty. It sounds like you do. Well, it sounds like the firm you created. Does did they have a specialty? Did your firm have to did your firm create that niche or did you develop your your like, unique and valuable skills on your own with what you were like? You know, like you said, with what you were learning to, to stand out in the in that environment?
Steven Thomas: [00:17:38] Well, Sullivan and Cromwell is, you know, an old line firm, and they represent, you know, big companies there. At least when I was there, their major clients were like Goldman Sachs. And and they're they were always on the defense side. And so that's the way I came up at Sullivan and Cromwell was doing on the defense side. And then one day, a client that I had had, he reached out to me and he bought a company in Texas and he was concerned that, you know, something wasn't right there, maybe that the books have been cooked or something. And he said, So, you know, we only we're going out of business. So I got all these lenders. I want you to go down to Dallas and, you know, figure out what's going on, meet with these people. So I was at that point, I think I had just made partner and I went down to Dallas and I walked into one of these, I would say Texas sides conference rooms. And the table seemed to go on forever. And there's a whole bunch of people in there. I'd come with the CEO of the company and I went over and got some coffee and turned around and realized there was only one chair left and it was at the head of this long table.
Steven Thomas: [00:18:53] So I went over and sat down in the chair and looked around to see what was going to happen next. And I realized that they were all looking at me and I was supposed to be talking. Oh, gotcha. So I started talking and these big bangs started talking and they were shouting. And after a little bit, I figured out that, you know, something wasn't something wasn't really right here. And we started investigating and determined that there was a real there was a real fraud here, and there was some real claims to be brought. But my client, he didn't want to pay the way Sullivan and Cromwell normally charge, which was sort of by the hour. And so he told me he wanted me to take it on a contingency. But at the time, Sullivan and Cromwell had a written fee policy, and that written fee policy said no contingencies. So I was like, I don't think I can do that. Eventually I got permission, and that was the first contingency fee case I or Sullivan and Cromwell ever, ever brought. And we did that lawsuit and it turned out well. And that was the start of me developing a plaintiff's practice.
Greg Kyte: [00:20:01] Now, did the firm decide that? Was it was it determined that the contingency fee was a more lucrative way to to build or was it just all brand new because it was usually defendants that you didn't you I can't see how a contingency fee would work with a defendant. Was that was that more profitable for the company structuring it like that?
Steven Thomas: [00:20:23] Well, Sullivan Cromwell liked it at first, and then I did the next contingency fee case I did was case we brought against BDO Seidman in Down in Miami, and we had a very, very public trial and we ended up hitting them for half $1 billion. And when that verdict became public, that's when Essence's clients started calling up and saying, what the hell are you guys doing suing accounting firms? That's not what Sullivan Cromwell is a defense firm. And I was, you know, asked by Sullivan and Cromwell, hey, you can't really do this kind of litigation anymore. You have to try to do it this way. And that's when I decided to leave and and form my own firm.
Caleb Newquist: [00:21:11] So I just want I just want to clarify one bit like the so the case you're talking about and correct me if I if I get it wrong, but it was Banco Espirito V BDO, is that right? That's the one. Yeah. And and so what So can you can you kind of summarize that case. I don't want I don't want to get into all the gory details because I know there are lots of details, but essentially like how did it, how did it come about that you just had to like, if I understand it, right, Like Banco Espirito was a big corporate client, but BDO is also a big corporate client. And is that how it kind of that's how it came about. Like that's how like something like that was able to happen at Sullivan. And then the result of it, of that case is essentially what kind of caused some trouble within the firm, right?
Steven Thomas: [00:22:02] Yeah. Bdo was, was not a client of Sullivan and Cromwell, but a spirit Santo was. But other big accounting firms and companies dealt with Sullivan and Cromwell all the time. So Espirito Santo had been a client of Sullivan and Cromwell for like 100 years. And I was brought in initially to investigate what happened. And when I figured out what happened, my advice was to, among other things we did there was to sue BDO Seidman, who was the auditor of the business. That turned out to be a fraud. But when I first got there, the US attorney was getting ready to at least was considering indicting his Spirito Santo because Espirito Santo owned 50% of the fraudulent business, had half the board of directors, and I had to first convince the US attorney that A Espirito Santo was a was the victim, that they didn't realize what the other half of the business was doing, which were crooks. And the auditors had told them, Seaman that there wasn't an issue there. There was a confidentiality agreement in my settlement with from way back then. That's basically where I have to stop. On the issues of the case. Sure. The what I what we did was we I'll just talk about the public stuff. We brought a case against after the US attorney decided that, yes, Espirito Santo was the victim. Then we brought a case against BDO Seidman and we ended up trying that case in state court in Miami. And it was it wasn't a it was a negligence case against BDO Seidman for missing the fraud.
Greg Kyte: [00:23:37] Gotcha. Real, real quick. So I speak a little bit of Spanish. Banco Espirito Santo translates to Holy. That's the Holy Spirit Bank who's got the balls to commit fraud against the Bank of the Holy Spirit. I'm pretty I'm pretty sure there's worse things than prison time that's going to happen if you defraud the Holy Spirit. Bank thoughts?
Steven Thomas: [00:24:06] I think that's right. They were a Portuguese bank. Espirito Santo was a family that owned that bank for, again, a long time over in Portugal. They've since had their own issues, not when I was representing them, but I would say that what the jury determined there was that Banco Espirito Santo had 0% of the fault. They put 100% of the fault on BDO Seedman and awarded not just the 170 million that they had lost, but another 340 something million in punitive damages. And I will tell you, we tried that case in 2007 and when I told the jury we were seeking $170 million, they gasp, all of them. And when I told them we were going to also seek punitive damages, on top of that, people were like, oh my God, that's so much money. Unbelievable. I then tried a case three years later after the financial crisis happened. 2008 is when that started the mortgage crisis. The the Great Depression. Yeah. And by 2010, when I told or 2011, when I told the jury I was seeking $1 billion, no one batted an eye. That's how much the public. Change the perception of the losses and banks and those kind of things just in three years in this country.
Greg Kyte: [00:25:30] Interesting.
Caleb Newquist: [00:25:32] So I want I just want to recap briefly before we move on. So the big case against BDO, that kind of that puts you in an awkward position with your firm. And you said, okay, maybe it's since we can't do this here, I'm going to go off on my own. But prior to that, like, had you had you been involved in similar litigation prior to that or was it just did you did the experience in that case, is that what set the light bulb off? I'm like, this is what I'm going to do? Like, this is the way I'm going to take my my career forward. From that point.
Steven Thomas: [00:26:08] I would say the one that set the light bulb off was that first case down in Texas where we first did a contingency plaintiff case. The first one I or Sullivan and Cromwell had ever done. And then that was followed up by the BDO case, and that was our first trial. And then when we did that first trial and we got to the end of it, I would say the light bulb was burning really bright. Yeah. And when, you know, with SNC didn't believe at the time it fit with their practice, I mean, I had a different view, but they didn't want me to do it there. So and when I say, you know, I didn't really go off on my own, I went with Emily Alexander, who at the time was, I think she was a mortal lock to be partner in two weeks. And she gave up a partnership at Sullivan and Cromwell to come form a firm with me. Wow. And Mark Forster, who was an associate at Sullivan and Cromwell, he was already on his own and had tried the case with us. And so the three of us formed Thomas Alexander and Forster.
Caleb Newquist: [00:27:15] So I want to I'm going to do I'm going to do a little bit of a rundown. And I want to of some cases that you have tried and if I'm not mistaken, successfully, either settled or won. And I just want to make sure I get them all right. And then I think I'll give folks a pretty a pretty good idea of just like the trajectory, I guess, of of what your firm's been able to do in terms of litigate, you know, against these big accounting firms where they've been implicated for failure to to detect fraud. And we'll get into that in a little bit. But anyway, the list of cases I have is New Century versus KPMG, future Select Portfolio Management versus E.I.. That was a madoff case. Madoff related Taylor Bean and Whitaker versus Deloitte, Taylor Bean and Whitaker again versus PwC. And that was related to Colonial Bank and the MF Global case versus PwC. Did I get them all? Am I missing one? I mean, it's a good it's a nice list.
Steven Thomas: [00:28:17] You're you're missing you're missing a few there. But those are those are all big fraud cases that we did. And that's a I think that's a reasonable rundown. Some of what we do ends up in arbitration instead of in public jury trials. Sure, they're generally private, but I mean, I think that's a that's a good rundown. And I think of some of the stuff we've done.
Greg Kyte: [00:28:39] Nice. Yeah. I've got just just to get me up to speed. I have not delved into the minutia of the Madoff case and a lot of the stuff that I know about it hasn't stuck in my brain because I'm sort of an idiot. But my the way I recollect that is one of the red flags with Madoff was that he was using some kind of, you know, second, third tier CPA firm in Manhattan instead of a big four firm. And I think somebody at that company went to jail for his involvement with Madoff. Can you remind me in the listeners, how was Ernst and Young involved with Madoff at all?
Steven Thomas: [00:29:16] I represented a hedge fund that was that represented in the hedge fund were a bunch of retirees who had invested their money with Madoff. Okay. And and the hedge fund they invested. And through that hedge fund, their auditors were Ernst and Young. Okay. So the way Madoff worked is there were vehicles to which you invested with Madoff, and there were several different ones of them. And I think there were 3 or 4. And of those 3 or 4 hedge funds, they were audited by Ernst and Young and KPMG. And so our our group of retirees that invested, they actually relied on the audits of the windows into Madoff. And so what the auditors claimed was that, well, we didn't actually audit Madoff's company, so we weren't responsible for saying there was no fraud. But because they audited the window into Madoff, the rules said they had to actually go audit Madoff. And. Itself, and that's what we want.
Caleb Newquist: [00:30:24] Yeah. So that was very common, if I'm not mistaken. And Steven, you can keep me honest here, but like Madoff, not not lots of people in invested with Bernie Madoff indirectly through like an through hedge funds like future select and they were they were known as feeder funds. Right. So retirees would put their investment with these hedge funds because they knew somebody or they or they just had some kind of connection. And and through that fund, that fund invested with Madoff. And so, like there was a there was a there was kind of a, you know, a a stop in between the at least in some cases, there was a stop in between the victims and Madoff and E.y and KPMG audited a lot of those feeder funds and they were all around. Lots of them are around the tri state area and lots of them failed. And so that's where the that's where the exposure came from.
Steven Thomas: [00:31:22] That's right. There's really there's only 2 or 3. I'm the names now I think one of the names was Fairfield. Yep. But there were 2 or 3 feeder funds. And so like Future Select, which was a hedge fund or a fund for these retirees, it would then invest into Fairfield, which would then invest into Madoff. And the position of the big four accounting firms were, well, even though every number we had was a madoff number, we didn't technically audit Madoff. We audited Fairfield, I think that's the name. And therefore, we didn't have to figure out whether Madoff was a fraud or not. And that was just wrong under the accounting rules. And we proved that it was wrong. Like if you're if you're auditing a shell of another company and all the numbers come from the other company and you're giving an audit opinion that there's no material misstatement due to error or fraud, then you have to go to that company. And honestly, at the end of the day, I think of my cross. Their expert admitted it, our expert testified about it. And, you know, we I thought we proved negligence pretty strongly.
Greg Kyte: [00:32:34] Nice. So the the other cases that Caleb was listing, it looks like your your client was they were all bankruptcy trustees. That's the new century. Taylor Bean and Whitaker and MF Global. What's the what? Just just again, to enlighten me, what sort of cases are they bringing again? I mean, it sounds like it's all negligence. You didn't do your job as an auditor, but what what what are auditors dropping the ball with, particularly with bankruptcy trustees?
Steven Thomas: [00:33:06] Well, in those cases, there were bankruptcy trustees or Chapter 11. They're not actually technically a trustee, but Chapter 11. But there are also others. I mean, we represented Deutsche Bank and one of the in one of those cases, which was one of the largest creditors of at largest creditors. And one of those cases, we also represented the Batchelor Foundation, which is again speedy of Simon, where we did allege fraud and proved fraud to the jury and got a jury verdict on fraud. And the Batchelor Foundation is a foundation that represents charities for kids and animals. It's the largest was the largest in Florida. So it's all kinds. I mean, bankruptcy trustees usually come in when the company itself goes bankrupt because of a big fraud and the trustee recovers money for the creditors. So a good example there would be in. In the case against I think it was Deloitte or Pricewaterhouse in Miami. The case is there. The trustee actually represented everyone from big bank creditors to the lunch counter in the basement, which was owed, you know, $2,000 out of the bankruptcy. And so the money went from the the retirement fund to the lunch counter to big banks when we recovered the money. So the bankruptcy trustee represents a wide variety of of people that lost as a result of the big fraud.
Greg Kyte: [00:34:40] Gotcha. That makes sense. So so they're in bankruptcy because they got hurt so bad by the fraud. And then the bankruptcy is trying to recoup some of the money that was lost. They go to the auditor and say, hey, if you'd been doing your job right, this wouldn't have happened. And then there's a settlement that helps helps pay for the the it's money collected to help with the bankruptcy proceedings. Is that more or less correct?
Steven Thomas: [00:35:06] I would say it's money collected to pay the victims of the fraud.
Greg Kyte: [00:35:09] Pay the okay to pay the victims of fraud. Right. Gotcha. Who are now declaring bankruptcy? Because that's how hard they got screwed. Gotcha. Okay, I'm up to speed.
Caleb Newquist: [00:35:21] Steven. Auditors like big accounting firms have been around a long time and they've kind of they've been subject to litigation for decades and decades. I'm just curious. So so, you know, I'm just curious, what do you think? How how how have you been able to be so successful? What did you figure out in terms of like, I'm going to pursue these firms for their negligence or in some time, in some cases, gross negligence? What have you been able to figure out that's been able that's allowed you to to have so much success, but not for yourself, Not just for yourself, of course, but on behalf of the victims of the fraud.
Steven Thomas: [00:35:59] Well, when we when we first did this and I would say the first case against media that we talked about before when I was at Sullivan and Cromwell, we knew that in lawsuits against accounting firms, the accounting firms were winning. You know, something like 95% of the suits are settling for just a small amount of money. And it was because, in part, the accounting firms were convincing people that it wasn't their job to find the fraud. And when we started doing mock trials before our big trial, we were getting beat up pretty bad. So we were losing two. And one day we had lost. I mean, we'd lost pretty bad in the mock trial. And I was sitting with Emily and Mark and our local guy who's been on a lot of cases with us, Gonzalo Dauda. And the jury consultant we had at the time was saying you can't ask for punitive damages and you guys should settle this case. You have no chance of winning. And we kicked him out. And Emily was like, Are we going to settle? And I was like, No, because we know we're right. We know they they what they did was wrong. You know, we're just not figuring out how to do it. And. Emily actually is the one who said, well, it's their job to find the fraud. And that's what the rules say. And we then took what was supposedly the bad facts and made those facts the reason we won, because it was their job under the rules. And we thought we could convince jurors and judges that that's what the rules say. And the rules really haven't changed since 2007.
Steven Thomas: [00:37:52] And the rule says that an auditor's job is to provide reasonable assurance that the that the financial statements are not misstated due to error or fraud. And so that's what we did. We changed our pitch, we sold out, and we told them, we told the jury, if you think we don't, we didn't prove it's their job to detect fraud rule for them. And no one said those kind of things back then. In any case, to juries, if I don't prove my case to you, rule for them. And that's what I stood up and said. And I said, If you don't, and then the defendant's the big thing they were hurting us with in the mob was that it was too complicated for the jurors to understand. It was all about accounting, and that had been very successful to them. So we told the jurors, if we can't explain it to you, when you get to the end of this and you feel like you don't understand what the rules are or how to read a financial statement, you think you don't understand it, rule for them. It's my job to explain it to you. So those two things I think started made a real difference for us. And then the final thing that we discovered was. I'll just say it. Telling the truth actually is a very powerful tool. And in general, we find that the big defense firms and them, they put their witnesses on the stand and they don't tell the truth and we prove they're lying. And it really helps us and we make sure our witnesses tell the truth.
Steven Thomas: [00:39:22] And it's I mean, it sounds hokey, but I've found out over the years that judges kind of just think that lawyers lie and witnesses lie. But but that's not what jurors think. Jurors think. You should get on the stand. You take an oath, you're supposed to tell the truth. Right. So they put these witnesses to lie about what they did and we prove that they're lying. And I think that's very powerful for us. So I think those are the three things we sort of figured out. And it's it's been very successful. And, you know, you get sometimes, look, when I'm representing Deutsche Bank, right. They're super rich, right? Yeah. We get money from them and they're victim. They're a victim and they deserve the money. You know, and I'm proud to you know, I'm proud to represent victims of fraud. But most of the time, our victims are the people at the lunch counter who didn't get paid, you know, or the retirees who didn't get their money. Like people think like, oh, this company went bankrupt. That's bad for that company. But, you know, all those people lose their jobs. Right? Right. I mean, they lose their pension. You know, the creditors, you know, are people that real people that get hurt. And, you know, in every single case where we prepare, we've prevailed. Real people have gotten their money back that they lost because of the fraud or because these professionals who their job is to make sure there's not fraud, didn't do their job. I think that's what we do different. And it's it's been it's been good.
Greg Kyte: [00:40:52] So you mentioned that one of the one of the effective tactics that the defense would use would part of it was they'd say these these guys can't understand. They don't they're not accountants. It's too complex. This jury can't really determine the fate of my client. That's that was that was one of the main arguments they had. Right?
Steven Thomas: [00:41:14] Yeah. Main arguments sort of make the jurors feel bad, like you're not going to be able to understand it and then you're going to try to hold us responsible. You're just going to have to rule for the defense because you can't They have you can't they can't prove you we did anything wrong because you be able to understand it. Right.
Greg Kyte: [00:41:29] And kind of the the beyond a shadow of a doubt or whatever the language is about, about that beyond beyond a reasonable doubt. Um, but did did the, did the defense ever throw out to you the because because I work I'm a CPA. I work in industry. And so every year we don't have to have an audit, but we get reviews done for our financial statements. And every year when the when we receive our engagement letter from the CPA company, there's very explicit language in there that says, Hey, we're not responsible for detecting fraud and we have to sign, you know, and that's part of the engagement letter that we sign. Was there were there similar arguments with your defendants in that in that regard, where they said, hey, you sign an engagement letter that said that it's not our job to to find the fraud. So, baby, it's on you. Our hands are clean.
Steven Thomas: [00:42:20] Well, in in audits, they can't put that into the letter. So they can't they cannot put that into the letter. But what they do put in the letter is, oh, we're relying on the information you provide us and things like that and say and then they stand up and they well, they used to stand up and tell the jurors, look, they they gave us bad information so we couldn't And they said right here that they they would only give us truthful information. So it's their fault, not ours. They're the fraudsters. But we're able to prove over and over again. In fact, we've never not proven it, that it's the actual job of the auditors to verify the information. And you can't put some blanket, you know, you can't ask the fraudsters, just promise me you're not committing fraud. That's not doing your job right. Your job is to actually verify the evidence, like, you know, CSI. So the rules are actually pretty good if you just read them and apply them. Right. And the other thing we are we've been is it's important about, you know, the big audit firms and any any accounting firm doing an audit, which is that they actually have a duty to the public because US Supreme Court has said that public auditors auditing companies are the public watchdog and that they're what they're doing is confirming that the financial statements are not misstated due to fraud. Right? They have to give reasonable assurance, which is a very high level of assurance. So they the public is responding, is counting on them to do their job. So they can't just rely can't just point to the client. They actually have a public duty. And. Remember when we first started, We this is also in the ethical rules.
Steven Thomas: [00:44:06] So we read these ethical rules or I actually sat and read them one day and I we were doing a deposition of the lead audit partner. And in the beginning, this is, you know, 2010 or so, I said to the audit partner, so you understand you have a public duty to the public. And he was like, what are you talking about? What? And I was like, he was at he was at A Big Four accounting firm. And I was like, You have a duty to the public. You understand that? And he was like, No, I don't understand that. And I said, Well, you understand that, that, you know, people are relying upon you beyond the client, right? Because your financial statements are what, you know, shareholders and people like that look at to invest in the client. And he goes, Well, no, I've always just thought that, you know, I have a duty to myself. And I said, So you don't have a public duty, a duty to the public. And he sat silent for maybe 45 seconds, which I'll tell you is a long time. Yeah. Video deposition. And finally he said he said no. So then, of course, I pulled out the ethical rule that he was bound by and showed it to him. And he was. So when we tried that case, what happens at the end of the case? You have a you close, then they close and then you get to stand back up and give a rebuttal. So when I stood back up, the only thing I did was play that question and that 45 seconds of silence. And then his answer. And the jury found fraud and awarded punitive damages to us.
Greg Kyte: [00:45:48] Nice. So. So was this where did this guy work? Was this Ernst and Young? Were they cheated on all their ethics? Continuing education. Is that is that where he was at?
Steven Thomas: [00:45:59] No. This? No.
Greg Kyte: [00:46:01] Okay.
Steven Thomas: [00:46:02] No, he was not there. Okay. But we tried the case against Ernst and Young and Madoff. Kpmg was the defendant there. They settled, though. But one thing we try to do and I have done in all major frauds we do, is we try the case. So even if we're suing, we may sue more than one defendant and we settle with some. But at the end of the day, we try to always try the case against one defendant. And a lot of times through the years, that's been the big accounting firms, right? Because they had so much success before. But they keep they would say they kept pressing it for a long time with us despite if they were going to win the trial.
Caleb Newquist: [00:46:42] So. I'm going to ask me. This may be a silly question, but. Why, as you've kind of just laid out for us, this is why we've been able this is why we've been able to be successful in litigating these big firms, is that we tell the juries that it's their job to detect this fraud, to verify the information. They don't do it. The juries and the juries find for for our clients. And so I guess my silly question is, why do these audit firms continue to. Have the position that it's not their job. Like, why are they why do they just hold on to that? And and despite the findings and all these cases, why are they still holding on to that, do you think? I'm asking you to speculate, obviously. But like that's that's kind of my silly question is like it's in the rules. Like you said, it's in the rules. And they're saying, we don't we don't know the rules. I don't know.
Steven Thomas: [00:47:44] I don't need to speculate. I know why, and I can tell you the evolution of it. Okay. The why is because for a long time, despite the rule, saying exactly what I quoted to you, it says, they said it was not their job to detect fraud. And people believed them. They lobbied people that that was not their job and that was the accepted view in the financial world. Companies would say, oh, they're the auditors, but it's not their job to detect fraud. They like convinced everyone that it was not their job to check fraud until 2007 when we tried our first case. And so I think it took them a long time after that to adjust to the reality that, you know, we would prove the opposite. And in 2000 and. I think 17, 16, 17 federal judge wrote in to a published opinion that it was their job to detect fraud. And the Public Company Oversight Board specifically said it was their job to detect fraud and give a high level of assurance. And I believe that turned the tide. So now, although you get a little bit of that depending on where you are, I, I think now you're going to get more of the big four firms admitting with a lot of qualifications that it's their job to detect fraud. But it was a long time. We tried a case in 2016 where in an in a Wall Street Journal article, the chairman of I'm pretty sure it was Price Waterhouse, the chairman of Price Waterhouse, had said in a Wall Street Journal article that it was Price Waterhouse, his job to detect fraud.
Steven Thomas: [00:49:30] But their lead audit partner in the case in 2016 had said under oath when I took his deposition that it was not. And then I wanted to admit at trial that the Wall Street Journal article and they actually represented to the judge that the chairman was wrong when he said that in the Wall Street Journal article, that it was not their job to detect fraud and they were able to keep that Wall Street Journal article out. We convinced the jury anyway, that it was their job to detect fraud. And then we tried the colonial case next, which was representing the FDIC against Pricewaterhouse for essentially the same audits. And the federal judge there said early on, are you going to take the position here that you took in that trial, that that it was not your job to detect fraud and was clearly unhappy about it? And their lead audit partner actually changed his testimony and came back and said different. And I think that has turned the tide quite a bit on whether it's their job to detect fraud or not.
Greg Kyte: [00:50:40] Do you do you have any opinions about just the rate of detection of fraud by the external auditors? And and what I mean by that is, is I I'm I'm every year I dig through the ACF's report to the nations on on fraud and and one of the things that I've always found interesting is that the main the main way fraud is detected is through some kind of whistleblower or tip tipster coming into the company. But you get down to some of the smaller percentages of how fraud is detected. And and I don't know if these are the exact percentages for the most recent report to the nation, but I know in one of the more recent ones in the past, it was like 3% of, of of frauds were detected by the external auditor versus 7% that were detected by accident. And I've always thought that's it's, it's awesome that fraudsters are 4% stupider than external auditors are good at their job. So why aren't the external auditors more effective at detecting fraud than they are? And and does all that other 97% of frauds that aren't detected by the external auditor? Are those are those potential clients of yours? Is that where you are? Are you calling the ATF to get business from those guys?
Steven Thomas: [00:52:01] The reason that audit firms don't detect fraud is because they have no incentive to do so. So auditors, despite their ethical rules, saying they owe a duty to the public. It's the company that they're investigating that's paying them. So the audit system, as it's currently set up. Auditors are hired and paid by the very people they're supposed to be investigating to see if their financial statements are misstated due to error or fraud. So the auditors essentially are firing their own clients if they find fraud. And a lot of times, you know, these clients can be big clients for the firm or big clients for the individual partners. So if you're a, you know, not a partner of one of the big four who has billions of dollars in revenue, yes, this company may not matter that much to, you know, the big four accounting firm as a whole. But to that partner, his compensation or her compensation is a lot of times tied to the business they have and bring in. So, you know, this may not be a huge client for the big four accounting firm, but for this partner, it's the biggest client they have. And if they find fraud, then they just lose their biggest client. And so many times if they, you know, either fraud goes undetected, no one ever detects it or someone does detect it, but they get sued by someone that, you know, most cases still against accounting firms that were not involved in settle for pennies on the dollar, you know, class action, whatever. So, you know, there's just no incentive for the accounting firm itself or the partner involved to actually try to detect fraud. And until the incentives are changed, audits are mostly worthless.
Greg Kyte: [00:53:56] In your opinion, what are the firms, what are the audit firms doing wrong? And what I mean by that is, have you ever said something like if these audit firms would only do fill in the blank, then they wouldn't have been negligent in this case? Or is there something like that or is it is it too broad to to really highlight one specific failure that goes across the board for these audit firms?
Steven Thomas: [00:54:21] Well, it's pretty broad because it's just a level of detail and effort. But the main issue, the main issue in most of these cases is just not looking for evidence to back up the numbers. Right. So we had one case. We had one case that, you know, let's say the mortgage fraud case. Okay. Right. And tbe W-2, the auditors would come in each year and the vast number of assets were mortgages. Right. And mortgages actually are paper. Right. Or they were then in 2016, 17. So there was a vault in the basement that had stacks of mortgages. And as I would describe to the jury, we had buttons. You know, the auditors would come walking in and if they push B and went to the basement and walked into the vault, they would have seen that there are no stacks of papers because there were no more hardly any mortgages. Right. But instead, they passed three went up to the little offices that were given to them, you know, then they'd lunch, they'd go down, they'd press L for lobby, they'd go to lobby, they'd go out to lunch, they come back, wouldn't press B, press three again, go up. Because the fraudsters, they actually couldn't create enough fake mortgages, so they didn't create any. So if anyone who would have walked into any auditor who would just press B and walked into the vault, they would have known there was a fraud. But for whatever I forget, six, seven years, no one ever pressed B Right. Yes.
Greg Kyte: [00:55:55] Right.
Steven Thomas: [00:55:56] So that similar thing over and over and over that, you know, just not looking for evidence to back up the numbers.
Greg Kyte: [00:56:04] Gotcha. So so basically, your answer to my question is, if these auditors just had not been negligent, then they wouldn't have been negligent. I guess that's the that's kind of the sum up.
Steven Thomas: [00:56:15] Yeah. I just think for. And just not accepting everything management says, like just actually looking for evidence of the numbers. Yeah. And you and you take that as just don't be negligence. But I will tell you, having a cross examine who knows how many scores of auditors to them, that is often a unique idea. Like, well, you know, they gave me this spreadsheet. Well, yeah, management gave you this spreadsheet. How do you tell the numbers are right? Well, they gave me the spreadsheet. Well, yes, but what evidence did you look at to see that this spreadsheet was correct? Well, they gave me the spreadsheet, right? I mean, I can't tell you how many times I've had that. So do you. And I just you you a layperson, hearing it, you're like, Well, of course they got to look for evidence. But that is a novel idea to most auditors. Geez.
Greg Kyte: [00:57:07] Wow. So do your fucking job. That's kind of the the sum up.
Caleb Newquist: [00:57:11] Yeah. Um, I just have a couple questions. Steven. Uh, number one, the first question I have is something that came up in our conversation with Professor Dan Taylor of the Wharton School when we were talking to him. And it's this notion of private. Private enforcement is how he described it. And and that consists of journalists, litigators like yourself, hedge funds, short seller types, people that are people that look for fraud and then take action and whatever capacity they can. In your case, that's, of course, litigation. In your opinion, is litigation an effective mechanism for holding people accountable who commit fraud? And that by extension, I'm including audit firms in that.
Steven Thomas: [00:58:04] Only in that individual case. I used to think when we were starting out doing this that we were going to change things, right? That we were going to prove that it was their job to take fraud, to detect fraud, which we've now done. We have published opinions there. You know, the PCAOB is now taking that position. They're talking about even making the rules more stringent. And I, I thought we're going to change, we're going to change this and we're going to make audits actually matter. But even doing all those things, it really hasn't changed anything other than the individual cases we're in and the individual cases we're in. Yes, we hold them accountable. We get money for the victims and we win. And that's fantastic. But has it changed the behavior of the big four accounting firms or the others? No, It's because their incentive is still to keep the people paying them happy and the consequences. You know, if I could sue on every single case, Yes, but I can't. And the consequences or the chances of being caught are just so low that it really hasn't changed anything about how audits are done.
Caleb Newquist: [00:59:17] So maybe that answers my next question. But to this day, you've been through a lot over the last, I guess, 15, 16 years. You've seen a lot and a lot has happened. You've tried lots of cases and won lots of cases or settled lots of cases. Is there anything that's still surprising that still surprises you about this work that you do today? Like what still surprises you about it?
Steven Thomas: [00:59:40] Well, I think I'm surprised that it hasn't changed. I'm going to be on a panel for the public company oversight board here in a few weeks. And on that, that panel is about what can we do to make auditors do their job. And, you know, there's lots of ideas, all of which revolve around this, changing the incentive. Right. Having companies buy insurance and the insurance pays the auditors or like, you know, the FDIC. The way banking works is all the banks pay in. And then the FDIC uses that to monitor the banks, something that changes the incentives. And until that changes, nothing's going to change. And that's what we're going to be talking about. And I guess I'm surprised that that has not changed yet. I will say the accounting firms, they're one thing they definitely do well is lobby. They're super good at that. And until the incentives change for them, I mean, if you look at an audit and you see it sound by an accounting firm, I wouldn't trust it. Area.
Caleb Newquist: [01:00:52] Okay. That was Steven Thomas. Gregg. Did we learn anything?
Greg Kyte: [01:00:57] I absolutely learned something today. I felt like it was like such an epiphany to have somebody who was like, I proved in a court of law that auditors have to detect fraud. Right? I mean, how many times have we talked about that, where auditors are the auditing companies and the way they set stuff up and and like I even brought up with with Steven, like I feel like they use the engagement letter to shield themselves and to to protect them from like to to manage their clients expectations of what they can do with fraud. But this guy was like, nope. I have shown in court that auditors, if there's fraud, it's their job to detect it. And I go, that why? Why hasn't that changed everything about the accounting profession and specifically the assurance and audit side of stuff? It was profound. I mean, because we're talking about cases when we listed through those cases because you know this stuff better than I do. How long ago are we talking about for this stuff that he was doing? We're talking like a decade, right?
Caleb Newquist: [01:02:05] Yeah. So BDO, the BDO Seidman, the big case that started it all, that was 2007. Oh, and then some of this stuff was post the 070809 financial crisis, right? Like New Century KPMG, the future select that was Madoff. So yeah, it was mostly in the 20 tens, right? Yeah. The the stuff that was all kind of later in the the decade and then the MF Global and PwC, that was all kind of in the from the period of about 2007. All some of this stuff is in the show notes I think so people can keep me honest but like I think some of these cases were settled like in 2016, 2017. So over the course, over the course of a decade, like he litigated all this stuff. And yeah, it's I think what it brings up for me in terms of learnings is, you know, as you said, he he proved it in these cases that auditors have this responsibility to detect material misstatements due to error or fraud. And to the extent that it's making that it's affecting change, that change is moving at a glacial pace, right? Like, yeah, like to the to the extent that people want accountability, you can't blame especially victims of these these in these instances, you can't blame them for wanting like very quick resolution and justice for themselves and whatever. But like in terms of the incentives, he kept talking about the incentives of the auditors like to change that key because other people have talked to us about that too, is like the incentives are all wrong. Right. And that's what that that's what gets us here. And it's like to to make that key part of it change will take a very long time. And that, I think, is what we're kind of watching unfold at a very slow pace.
Greg Kyte: [01:03:54] And help me unpack that because that was something that Steven said and I didn't want to bring it up because I felt stupid for not understanding when he said it. But he said he said the auditors have no motivation to detect this fraud. And he said if they do, they'll just fire the client. Did you like. So what I understood by that is he's like, so we're we're going through the audit process and if we find fraud, instead of saying, Oh, you have fraud, we just say, Hey, we're not going to do this audit by and then they don't have to produce any kind of opinion for that client. And they're like, hopefully nobody else finds it. Or hopefully when the next people find it, they're they're the ones who are going to be in trouble for it. And they won't, you know, who knows when it started and hopefully it wasn't on our watch. Is that is that what he was saying?
Caleb Newquist: [01:04:44] I mean, he's I think what he was saying is what will happen is if an auditor brings us to the attention of a client. A client is going to presumably we take issue with it. They're going to take issue with it. Right. So and they'll say, if you're going to if you're going to press this matter with us, then we'll just find a different auditor, which is what happens in a lot of cases, right, where you hear about like when you have these auditor changes like they have, especially for public well, not yeah, especially for public companies. If you change your auditor, you have to. That requires a filing with the SEC, right? Right. And so in a lot of times what you only and again you only find out this stuff retrospectively or in hindsight but like, oh, they changed auditors because there was something weird going on. They brought it up to management and management's just like, Look, you're going to make a problem for us. We'll just find somebody else to do this. Gotcha. And so that's the incentive. The incentive is like, well, the audit firm doesn't want to lose the audit client.
Caleb Newquist: [01:05:41] Right. And that's what he was talking about, like especially at these big firms, like, say you're an audit partner, you got this big name client. And as a. Collective at the US firm. That big client is relatively of small importance. But to that individual audit partner, it's the most important client in the world. Potatoes. Yeah, exactly. That's right. Right. And so, like that audit partner doesn't have any incentive to do the right thing if he or she discovers fraud or if their team detects fraud because like, that will take food directly out of his or her mouth. Right. Right. Yeah. And you don't even know and forget about like how it's seen within like the broader kind of administrative structure of the audit firm where they say, okay, so tell us what's going on here. We think you've got it wrong and like and so what kind of like tension and awkwardness does that even create within your own firm? So that's where that's where I think the incentives are all wrong or what Steven was typing in terms of like the incentives.
Greg Kyte: [01:06:49] And that's what I got turned around. I thought he was saying that the firm would fire the client if the firm found fraud. But you're saying when the firm finds fraud and says, Hey, we think there's fraud, then the client goes, Yep, buy, you're fired, We'll go get somebody else. And then that makes sense to me. And that's the that's the messed up incentives because I get it now. You explained it. Yeah. Thank you. Thank you for helping me process that. And maybe there's one listener who also needed that clarified for them as well.
Caleb Newquist: [01:07:20] It was my pleasure.
Greg Kyte: [01:07:21] Greg Wonderful. Well, that's it for this episode, guys. Thanks for listening. And remember, Auditor independence is an illusion like unlimited PTO.
Caleb Newquist: [01:07:31] And also remember, if you're an auditor, do your fucking job.
Greg Kyte: [01:07:34] Yeah, Just do your fucking job. Just do your job. Go to the basement. Look for those. It's not that hard.
Caleb Newquist: [01:07:41] Honestly. Is that that's the that's the biggest takeaway. If you're an auditor, always look around the basement, go to the basement and see what's in the. Just go and look in the basement.
Greg Kyte: [01:07:49] What? It's going to take too much of your time. Just go look in the basement.
Caleb Newquist: [01:07:53] Right?
Greg Kyte: [01:07:54] So, Caleb, where can people find you? Out there in the Internet if they want to. If they want to interact with you directly.
Caleb Newquist: [01:08:00] Still on Twitter at Newquist. I'm also on LinkedIn Backslash. Caleb Newquist. Greg, where are you?
Greg Kyte: [01:08:07] Yeah, I'm still on the the the wasteland of Twitter. Even though it seems like it's just me when I go on there, it's me and a couple of tumbleweeds and that's about it. But yeah, I'm at Greg Kite on Twitter. Seems like LinkedIn. My least favorite of the social medias is the one that's really pulling pulling out these days and that's Greg Kite. Cpe is where you can find me there. And also, please remember that if you would like to interact with us here collectively, you can always send us an email. And Caleb, what is that email address?
Caleb Newquist: [01:08:39] Oh my fraud at earmark cpe.com.
Greg Kyte: [01:08:43] Wonderful.
Caleb Newquist: [01:08:44] Oh my Fraud is written by Greg Kite and myself. Our producer is Zach Frank. If you like the show, leave us a review or share it with a friend. That's a good thing to do. That's how people find the show and subscribe on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, wherever you like listening to podcasts, really, we don't care. And if you're an accountant and you want to get CPE, listen to the podcast on Earmark and you could get free CPE.
Greg Kyte: [01:09:10] It's a wonderful program. I'm wonderful at this point. I'm I'm barely into my next two year reporting period, and I already have 12 credits that I've earned through earmark. It's the it's the best.
Caleb Newquist: [01:09:24] Outstanding. Join us next time for more avarice, swindlers and scams from stories that will make you say, oh, my friend, Fraud.