Life of a Forensic Accountant

PROVO, Utah – Apr 17, 2018 – Doug Winters won’t say accounting is always exciting. But with the title “forensic accountant” and the discovery of a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme on his résumé, his career certainly hasn’t been a snoozefest either.

Winters began his foray into accounting when a high school counselor pointed out that Winters might like accounting better than chemistry. So he took a class. Then another and another. And after thirty-five years in the industry, he’s never found a reason to leave.

Following his graduation from BYU in 1982 with a BS in accounting, Winters spent six years with Salt Lake firm Nelson and Stayner before joining Bradshaw, Smith, and Co. in Las Vegas, where he is now a managing partner.

“It’s been a good career,” he says. “I think that was good advice from the counselor. Accounting has always come easily. It’s interesting and enjoyable, and it provides well for my family.”

Working in forensic accounting and litigation support has meant that Winters works with clients in all kinds of litigious situations. Typically, he will figure out whether money is missing; who took money that wasn’t theirs; or how much profit was lost because of business interruptions, a natural disaster, or a breach of contract. One such case involved finding out how much money a business lost because of Hurricane Katrina.

Winters says he particularly enjoys helping family businesses resolve conflicts, especially when he can prove that there was no wrongdoing. “It saves them a lot of money, and it can also reduce a lot of family friction and tension,” he says. “They can then figure out a way to part amicably.”

And then there are Ponzi schemes. “We have had a couple of cases in which wealthy clients are very good at making their money, but sometimes they are also very good targets for fraudsters,” he says.

Winters discovered that one client had placed hundreds of thousands of dollars in an inventory scheme and didn’t get returns on his investment until he put money on a second deal—and the deals continued. “He was the only investor in his own Ponzi scheme,” Winters says.

Luckily Winters and his team were able to uncover the fraud for what it really was.

When Winters is not investigating fishy investments, he enjoys biking, Scouting, and being with his family. He and his wife, Diana, have three sons and live in Las Vegas. He and two of his sons completed a 750-mile bike ride from Canada to Northern California, and while his sons may have called it quits on biking for now, Winters regularly spends time in the saddle. He is a Silver Beaver Award recipient and serves as the district committee chair for his local Scouting district.

Winters says his plan is to continue at Bradshaw, Smith, and Co. until he and his wife serve a mission for the LDS Church. In the meantime, he’ll stick with accounting for a little while longer.

Doug and Diana Winters
SOA alum Doug Winters and his wife, Diana, at the Tanner Building

Media Contact: Jordan Christiansen (801) 422-8938
Writer: Angela Marler