When Brian Green was a Ph.D. student of accounting and finance, he placed a bet with his colleague. If he could effectively conduct his research and dissertation on fraud detection, he would win his friend’s Al Kaline rookie baseball card.
While there was research in detecting different types of errors at the time, there wasn’t much on actual fraud detection. Green’s colleague doubted the possibility of researching the topic because of the limited availability of information.
However, as Kaline had been Green’s favorite player growing up, the stakes were high. Green succeeded in his fraud detection research, eventually winning the bet.
“I have the Al Kaline rookie baseball card,” he laughs. “And that’s how I got interested in fraud detection. Once I found out it was doable, I kept doing it.”
Green is now the Czarnecki Collegiate Chair and Professor of Accountancy at the UM-Dearborn College of Business, teaching undergraduate auditing and accounting, and graduate forensic accounting and financial statement analysis.
He also conducts research with two primary fields of focus. First, he researches fraud detection, looking at the effectiveness of different types of fraud detection methods, and continuing his legacy that began while a Ph.D. student. Green also researches effective teaching methods.
Green has made several recognized innovations in fraud detection. Research originally used simulation studies, in which data was made up to determine if various detection methods could detect fraud. Green took fraud detection research a step further, using actual data, which in turn yielded new results.
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He also went on to develop a neural network (artificial intelligence) that picked up on different types of fraud. These neural networks are now used by credit card companies for fraud detection — they are what detect unusual purchases and send a red flag to the cardholder.
With several published books and research articles, as well as many distinguished awards for both his research and teaching, Green has come far from his days as a student, betting his research for a baseball card.
He reflects on a time when he was 17 years old and a professor opened his eyes to the possibility of not only pursuing accounting, but also pursuing education.
“I could actually do both, teaching and accounting. And that sounded like a pretty good idea to me,” he reflects. “So I did.”
What moment on the job stands out as the most memorable?
My most memorable moment was being named the Czarnecki Collegiate Chaired Professor of Accounting. … As I stepped to the podium to accept the professorship I looked out at all of my family members. My mom and dad, my wife, and my son looked proud and a bit teary-eyed. My daughter looked at me and mouthed the words “great brownies.” That really put everything into perspective.
What can’t you live without?
Easy question, my wife, Marie. She is simply the one who is always there for me.
What inspires you?
My father. He was a staff sergeant during World War II, joining at 17. He was the top bubble gunner on a bomber, and his plane was shot down on a bombing run to take out a radio tower. He was captured after a few days and was a prisoner of war in Japan until the end of the war. The Japanese military was brutal to the POWs. Most either died or were executed in the final days of the war. My father survived. He never complained or held anger. He came home, played football at Western Michigan, and became a school teacher. He married my mom (MaryEllen), and raised five sons. My mom and dad are great parents.
What are you currently reading?
“Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand.
Who had the greatest influence on your career path?
Dave Fetyko is the one who recommended I become a professor, when I was 17. He not only made the recommendation, but he also told me how to get there. … He made my career possible, and showed the importance of teaching.