NIU students learn what it takes to be an IRS special agent - – Rockford’s News Leader

NIU students learn what it takes to be an IRS special agent


By Samantha Ptashkin

DEKALB (WREX)- Northern Illinois University students learn how to put criminals in prison, particularly those wanted for white collar crimes. The accounting majors ditched their pencils and paper to see if they have what it takes to be an IRS special agent.

It's all part of a program called the "Adrian Project." It's a popular program that some universities, like NIU, wait years to bring to their campuses. Nearly 40 IRS special agents visited with students, using different methods to teach them how to solve a hypothetical financial crime.

More than 60 accounting majors at NIU got to spend their day doing everything from undercover interviews, to digging through trash for evidence. It's all in a day's work for a special agent. "What we do is we put bad guys in jail and this is how we do it, we develop information, we conduct an investigation," said IRS Assistant Special Agent in Charge Lucy Cruz.

"In class we're taught about the implications of the law and what the IRS can or can't do, but actually doing it in one day, you learn quite the spectrum of what they can cover," said NIU Accounting Student Andrew Kostelancik.

Students spend six hours with the agents, some with more than 25 years of experience. They learn how to review evidence, make arrests and carry a case from beginning to end.

"I think it will give students a lot of real world senses, how the investigation is going on and then what an IRS agent's daily job is about," said NIU Forensic Accounting Professor Chih-Chen Lee. 

"I was never interested in a career with the IRS, auditing taxes, but this is very exciting, very novel and something that would be a good career choice," Kostelancik.

Most of these students won't go into forensic accounting right out of college, first they'll get a couple of years experience as an external auditor.

Accounting students must apply to take part in the program.

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