The FBI: A Career Like No Other

Have you have ever wondered what it’s like working at the Federal Bureau of Investigation?

Natasha Novikov, forensic accountant at Federal Bureau of Investigations photographed on Sunday, July 19, 2015 in Orlando, Florida.

Our Mission. At the FBI, we do complex work to achieve a simple mission: to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution of the United States.

Our People. The FBI is staffed by more than 35,000 employees including special agents, intelligence analysts, and support professionals with an annual budget of approximately $8.7 billion in fiscal year 2016.Our Locations. We work literally around the globe. Along with our Headquarters in Washington D.C. and other HQ support service locations, the FBI operates in 56 domestic field offices in major cities, over 350 satellites offices (resident agencies) across the country, and 60 international offices around the world.

Our Programs. Today’s FBI is an intelligence-driven and threat-focused national security organization with both intelligence and law enforcement responsibilities in the following programs: Counterterrorism, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Counterintelligence, Cyber Security, White-Collar Crime, Public Corruption, Civil Rights, Organized Crime, and Violent Crime.

Our Career Paths. The FBI has a wide variety of career paths for individuals from all backgrounds and experiences. Positions consist of Special Agents, Intelligence Analysts, and support positions in the following areas: Surveillance; Foreign Languages; Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM); Arts and Communication; Accounting and Finance; Business Administration; Facilities and Logistics; Legal; Medical and Counseling; and Police and Security.

Who I am. I am an FBI Forensic Accountant. I graduated from the University of Virginia with a Master of Science degree in Accounting and from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with a major in Finance and a minor in Criminology. I am a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF) and a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE). My professional affiliations include the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants (FICPA), American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE).

Why I serve. I come from a family devoted to public service. Both my father and stepfather are retired U.S. Army officers. Growing up in a military family, the core values of public service were instilled in me. At a young age, my dream was to become an FBI agent. Setting the bar high was fitting for the mindset of “be all you can be”. After college I began my career in public accounting with one of the ‘Big 4’ followed by corporate accounting in industry for a large international publicly traded company. When the FBI Forensic Accountant job became available, I knew this was an opportunity I could not pass up.

When I started. I applied for the FBI Forensic Accountant position in the summer of 2009 from a job posting on I started in July 2010 after undergoing an extensive background investigation and polygraph examination to obtain a Top Secret security clearance. I graduated from the second FBI Forensic Accountant Academy class and later served as a counselor for the 16-01 class. From August 2010 through January 2013, I was assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) in Tampa covering national security matters including counterterrorism and counterintelligence missions. During my tenure on the JTTF, I served as the Terrorist Financing Coordinator (TFC), where I coordinated all terrorist financing cases for the division. In January 2013, I transferred to the Orlando Resident Agency and was embedded on the white collar crime squad. Since September 2013, I have been the Forensic Accountant Program Coordinator (FoA PCOR) with program oversight of the division’s resource allocation of nine Forensic Accountants and Financial Analysts.

How we began. The Forensic Accountant Program was created in March 2009 to enhance and professionalize the FBI’s financial investigative capabilities by attracting top-tier accounting professionals, capable of conducting complex, forensic financial investigations. Nationwide, there are over 500 Forensic Accountants and Financial Analysts. FBI Forensic Accountants plan, coordinate, and direct the financial aspects of investigations in coordination with FBI agents, prosecuting attorneys, and other law enforcement agencies. The motto of the Forensic Accountant Unit is “Follow the Money.”

Where I work. I am a Forensic Accountant in the Orlando Resident Agency (RA) of the Tampa Field Office. Tampa is a medium sized field office with approximately 400 employees, of which approximately 200 are special agents. The field office covers 18 counties in central and southwest Florida. The main office is based in Tampa and is supported by six satellite offices: Orlando, Brevard, Lakeland, Pinellas, Sarasota, and Ft. Myers. There are a total of nine forensic accountants/financial analysts located in the various offices to support investigations as subject matter experts throughout the field office.

What I do. Since I am in a satellite office of a medium sized field office, I work a variety of cases across multiple programs involving corporate fraud, securities and commodities fraud, mass marketing fraud, fraud against the government, mortgage fraud, public corruption, and terrorist financing. I use my financial expertise to investigate federal criminal violations including conspiracy, money laundering, bank fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, theft of government property, aggravated identity theft, and material support to terrorism among others. As the only Forensic Accountant in the Orlando RA, I focus on the largest and most complex investigations. I am assigned to investigations along with a special agent who serves as the primary case agent. My role is to retain ownership of the financial investigative portion of the investigation as the subject matter expert. This involves a wide array of duties inside and outside of the office to include:

  1. Investigate. Develop financial profiles of individuals and groups. Accompany FBI agents on interviews of subjects, sources, witnesses, and victims. Participate in gathering evidence from executing search warrant and serving subpoenas. Assist in preparing affidavits associated with financial analyses towards obtaining arrest, search and seizure warrants.
  2. Examine. Conduct forensic financial analyses of business and personal records to reveal federal criminal violations. Identify and trace funding sources and interrelated transactions towards the seizure and forfeiture of assets. Utilize computer software and database management systems to analyze and present financial evidence.
  3. Collaborate. Conduct investigations with private industry partners and other regulatory, federal, state, and local government agencies including: Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), among others. Participate in working groups such as the United States Attorney’s Office Suspicious Activity Report Review Team and the Central Florida Fraud and Forgery Unit.
  4. Communicate. Compile findings with conclusions in financial investigative reports and exhibits. Provide knowledge regarding accounting and industry practices. Deliver briefings to Assistant United States Attorneys, FBI agents, executive management, and other government agencies.
  5. Testify. Develop analyses and exhibits for criminal proceedings. Meet with prosecuting attorneys to discuss strategies and other litigation support functions. Testify as a fact or expert witness in judicial proceedings.

No two days are the same. My job is challenging yet rewarding at the same time. Not a day goes by that I regret my decision to join the FBI, because there is no other career like an FBI career. For information on FBI careers, visit our website



Natasha Novikov, CPA/CFF, CFE

FBI Forensic Accountant