Follow the Money: Worldcom to 'Whitey'

When Boston mobster James "Whitey" Bulger recently was captured in California after 16 years on the lam, investigators found him to be living comfortably, at least in the financial sense, with $800,000 in cash stashed in his rent-controlled Santa Monica apartment.

Now that the initial police work has run its course, though, -- trying to figure out how Bulger and his girlfriend managed to make ends meet for all this time.

It's an unusual job for forensic accountants: following the money to a decade-and-a-half of possible Bulger helpers. But the accounting specialty often attracts peculiar assignments -- by rooting through transaction trails and journal entries that may be designed to deceive. There they as recorded cash and accruals, searching for tell-tale anomalies.

As tenuous as comparisons between business fraud and other types of crime may sound, there often is a surprising degree of similarity in how accountants try to untangle the complexities in the various areas where forensics are applied.

Consider the work of James D. Ratley, president and CEO of the .