Accounting Prof Turns Crime Fighter

Michael Diakunczak, Reporter

Accounting professor Fred Croop, C.P.A, is an accountant and crime fighter: He helps non-profit and volunteer organizations avoid debt and losses.

Croop,  who teaches accounting, has spent the last few years offering his services to non-profit social and volunteer organizations who need to protect their financial assets. Croop, who is the former dean  of the College of Professional Studies and Social Studies, said he  began his mission about five years ago.

“As a community, we are richer thanks to these volunteers sharing their time and their immeasurable talents for the betterment of others. Unfortunately — due to a lack of oversight — some also are taken advantage of by others in these volunteer organizations through the theft of funds and/or services,” he said.

He said he read about far too many instances in which organizations lost funding or acquired extreme levels of debt. 

“I would read about these instances – $43,000 from youth soccer leagues, $700,000 from a volunteer fire company where the fire company went to funk and now the community has to count on neighboring for coverage, $107,000 in employee benefits, the list keeps on going. It would bother me because I think this is unnecessary to the extent it has occurred,” Croop added.

Croop said the ill-gotten funds are misused in various ways, oftentimes by people in positions of authority.

“Thefts from these service and nonprofit entities shatter trust, camaraderie and public support that are essential to their success,” said Croop in a 2014 article  he authored  for Northeast Pennsylvania Business Journal.

Croop started his project from the ground up. In the first year, Croop began to write articles for local newspapers. After publishing nearly 20 articles, Croop thought he could extend his impact by including his students. While teaching a service learning auditing course, he had his students talk to  CPAs around or in Luzerne County to find out about their experiences with  fraud and what internal controls they had to prevent it. 

Since the time, Croop has presented financial management seminars to organizations and colleges and offered debt and fraud prevention strategies. In his seminars, he includes information from the interviews his students completed, and the importance of his students’ work has led him to decide to involve students in his project once again..

“I would like to have another service learning course to help me gather more knowledge for what I am doing. These students deserve the credit. That is why I present it when I give my seminars,” said Croop.

Croop plans to continue his seminars in local areas. He believes the knowledge he has gained over the years has led him to discover the best protection volunteer organizations need to prevent  debt and/or financial losses. He plans to share his financial strategies and hospitality to as many volunteer organizations as possible.

“If you know any organizations that look like they need help, stop by my office and let me know so I could help. It is what I do,” Croop said.