Special Agents Accounting students get hands-on training
in IRS criminal investigations
Josh Fisher drew
a blue imitation Glock handgun from the holster on his hip and banged on a door
on the seventh floor of Alter Hall.
with a search warrant. Open the door,” he shouted twice before he and two other
handgun-wielding students burst into the room.
accounting major, Fisher and his classmates were among 24 accounting majors participating
in an Oct. 29 exercise as part the “Fox Project,” a daylong simulation of an
Internal Revenue Service investigation and prosecution. Led by 19 local IRS
special agents, the students acted as IRS Criminal Investigation special agents
pursuing a terrorism financing case.
The students were
broken into four groups, each investigating a separate entity involved in the
case. Teams met between interviews and fieldwork to present their findings.
“It’s the first
time I’ve ever done anything like this,” said IRS Special Agent Shauna Frye, a
Fox School alumna who organized the project. “Temple has a great population and
a really diverse set of students.”
Frye said the
IRS special agent simulation is a mix of law enforcement and accounting that
gives students the chance to learn about a career they may not have originally
“Students get a
hands-on opportunity to see how this plays out,” said Panaccio, also a Fox
alumna. “It’s very different from the classroom experience.”
Most of the 24
students selected to participate were sophomores and juniors, along with a
handful of seniors and Fisher, the only freshman. Preference was given to applicants
with a 3.0 GPA or higher.
started at 7:15 a.m. with a briefing on IRS Criminal Investigation protocol after
which the students were sworn in as agents before working their case. The
investigation then began with conducting basic background and criminal history
“I was really
nervous. I think I’ve watched too many Law
& Order-type shows,” said junior accounting and risk management
double-major Tom Barron about conducting an interview as a mock special agent.
“Compared to what you do in class, this is unique. I’ve enjoyed it.”
students compiled data about their targets and conducted interviews for the
case, they began a defensive tactics training session. More than a dozen IRS
special agents taught them the proper techniques for entering and clearing a
building with a warrant, approaching and handcuffing a suspect, using physical
strikes for self defense and how to appropriately suit up and handle a service
weapon when executing a warrant.
are definitely having a great time,” said Special Agent Robert Glantz. “They
really feel like they’re one of us now that they have to carry a weapon for the
rest of the day.”
culminated with students conducting surveillance and collecting evidence, then
obtaining warrants and executing arrests.
“The Fox Project
was a great opportunity to offer an alternate program to students who may not
want to follow a traditional career path with their accounting degrees,” said
Professor of Practice Sheri Risler, who represented the Department of
Accounting during the program.