The moral of the story? Be careful when hiring professional accountants.

The story? Miss California has been dethroned, thanks to shoddy accounting.

Less than a week ago, Christina Silva was named the winner of the Miss California pageant, part of the pageant group controlled by Donald Trump's Miss Universe Organization. One day later, she was contacted and told it was all a mistake, and Raquel Beezly was the real winner.

It turns out that the accountant who tabulated the points given to each of the contestants by the celebrity judges made a big mistake. Those results were even confirmed by an auditor! The next day, the scores were tabulated again and the error was discovered.

Beezly was awarded the crown and will go on to compete in the Miss USA pageant in spring. Can you imagine having to give up your throne? The pageant director has a heart – Silva can keep the crown and the necklace she was given. She has hired a lawyer, of course.

Choose your accountants carefully.

Forensic accountant Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations through her company, Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners honored Tracy as the 2007 winner of the prestigious Hubbard Award and her first book, Essentials of Corporate Fraud, will be on bookshelves in March 2008.

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