Cynthia Cooper (accountant) American accountant

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Cynthia Cooper is an American accountant who formerly served as the Vice President of Internal Audit at WorldCom where her team exposed the largest accounting fraud in U.S. history - ($3.8 billion).[1]

Cooper was named one of three "People of the Year" by Time magazine in 2002.


Cooper earned her Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Mississippi State University and a Master of Science in Accountancy from the University of Alabama. She is a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE).[2]


Cooper worked for the Atlanta offices of public accounting firms PricewaterhouseCoopers and Deloitte & Touche, and became Vice President of Internal Audit at Worldcom.

Worldcom scandal - 'Prepaid capacity'

During a meeting with the auditors, corporate finance director Sanjeev Sethi explained that differing amounts in two capital spending expenditures related to 'prepaid capacity'. No one in the room had ever heard that term before. When pressed for an explanation, Sethi said that he did not know what the term meant, even though his division approved capital spending requests. He referred the auditors to corporate controller David Myers.[3]:223–225 Suspicious, Cooper asked Mark Abide, head of property accounting, about the term. Abide was not familiar with it either, even though he had made several entries about 'prepaid capacity' in WorldCom's computerized accounting system.[3]:225

Cooper and Smith asked senior associate Eugene Morse, one of the "techies" on the internal audit team, to peruse the accounting system for any references to 'prepaid capacity'. Morse was eventually able to find one and trace it through the system. However, the amounts were bouncing between accounts in an unusual manner, resulting in a large round amount moving from WorldCom's income statement to its balance sheet.

In 2002 Cooper asked Morse to see if there was another 'prepaid capacity' entry that moved around in similar fashion.[3]:225–227 Morse went to work, but pulled so much data that he frequently clogged up the accounting servers. Eventually, he and the rest of the team began working at night. Finally, on June 10, Morse found more entries about 'prepaid capacity'; large amounts had been transferred from the income statement to the balance sheet from the third quarter of 2001 to the first quarter of 2002.[3]:220–221 :231–233[1][4][5]

At the time, this was the largest incident of accounting fraud in U.S. history.

Later career

Since leaving what became MCI, Cooper started her own consulting firm, and also speaks to both professionals and students to share her experiences and lessons learned.


Cooper's book about her life and the WorldCom fraud, Extraordinary Circumstances: The Journey of a Corporate Whistleblower,[6] was published in 2008. Profits from the book were given to universities for ethics education.[7]

Personal life

Cooper maintains an office in Brandon, Mississippi. She married Lance Cooper in 1993; they have two children, Stephanie and Anna Katherine.[4][2]


Cooper was named one of three "People of the Year" by Time magazine in 2002, along with fellow whistleblowers Sherron Watkins and Coleen Rowley.[8]

See also


  1. ^ a b Pulliam, Susan; Deborah Soloman. "How Three Unlikely Sleuths Exposed Fraud at WorldCom: Firm's Own Employees Sniffed Out Cryptic Clues and Followed Hunches". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2008-11-08.
  2. ^ a b Cynthia F. Cooper, Marquis Who's Who, Reproduced in Biography Resource Center (fee). Farmington Hills, Michigan: Gale. 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-05.
  3. ^ a b c d Cooper, Cynthia (April 15, 2009). Extraordinary Circumstances: The Journey of a Corporate Whistleblower. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-12429-1.
  4. ^ a b Ripley, Amanda (2002-12-30). "The Night Detective". Time. Retrieved 2008-04-06.
  5. ^ Cooper, Cynthia (2008-02-04). Extraordinary Circumstances: The Journey of a Corporate Whistleblower. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. ISBN 978-0-470-12429-1. Retrieved 2008-04-06.
  6. ^ Cooper, Cynthia (2008-02-04). Extraordinary Circumstances: The Journey of a Corporate Whistleblower. ISBN 978-0470124291.
  7. ^ "CYNTHIA COOPER WORLDCOM WHISTLE BLOWER". Archived from the original on 2008-12-12. Retrieved Nov 8, 2008.
  8. ^ LACAYO, RICHARD; AMANDA RIPLEY (2002-12-30). "Persons Of The Year". Time. Retrieved 2008-04-06.


External links

"Cynthia Cooper chronicles her experience during the rise and fall of WorldCom in her book 'Extraordinary Circumstances.'"

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