Justice in accounting (and ocelots on leashes) with Candy Bellau from Kramerica Business Solutions

Candy Bellau overcame a lot to be the fraud-detecting, crime-fighting accountant she is today.


  • Candy Bellau, founder of the all-female firm Kramerica Business Solutions, works to give small business owners helpful and timely financial support. She also works as a consultant to boost small businesses.

  • Detecting fraud through accounting has been a major part of Candy’s career. She once caught a fraudster who ended up with a 10-year prison sentence.

  • Since having her daughter, Candy has adopted a more family-first approach to managing people. Her focus for her all-female, mostly-mom team is to put their children, not the work, as the main priority.

Born to a counterfeiter, she saw scandal first-hand throughout her formative years. Her father’s motto was ‘You don’t get ahead by being honest’. A smooth talker and mathematical genius, he had a pet ocelot that he walked on a gold chain through the Bronx, sending a clear message to anyone who thought twice about wronging him.

Though she did not inherit her father’s penchant for flash, Candy did inherit his genius.

When her parents split, she needed to work to support her mother. So at the age of 14, she started bookkeeping for a family business. Thanks to her math prowess, she was paid a full-time salary to do a part-time job. Her father didn’t like Candy being able to support her mother, so he made her an impossible offer. 

“He offered me triple my salary in cash if I would leave and come live with him at the beach, so that my mother would have to take him back,” Candy shares in an eye-opening episode of the Accounting Leaders Podcast,  “She couldn't afford to live on her own. And I refused. I stayed home working with my mom. I just couldn't fathom sitting home and just taking money for doing nothing.”

After years of seeing the trouble that came from crime, Candy was determined to use her genius for good. She became a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) and worked to help companies solve missing money puzzles. 

Today with Kramerica Business Solutions, she leads an all-female team to provide small business owners with quality, timely financial advice–and makes a point of running her own business with as much integrity as possible.  

In this compelling episode, Karbon co-founder and host Stuart McLeod chats with Candy about her experience catching fraudsters, and how she establishes boundaries for her employees today. 

Growing up in the shade

After such an eventful childhood, you would think Candy had witnessed her fair share of double-dealing by the time she entered the working world. As if followed by her own shadow, more elaborate cases of fraud awaited her. 

Her first encounter of fraud at work came from bookkeeping for a coin-operated laundry company. Discovering a series of account numbers that didn’t match any of the company’s properties, Candy realized the company was paying the electric bills for multiple apartment buildings.

“They had hundreds of locations. I was putting all the account numbers in and there were extras. I asked the Controller what all the extra account numbers were for. She told me not to worry about it,” Candy tells Stuart on the podcast. “All of her bills—her fiancé's bills, her boyfriend's bills, and her mother's bills—all went through the company.” 

Another job took advantage of her math talents by having her kite checks. This means she wrote bad checks from one bank account, then used the bank’s clearing times to write a check from another account to make it ‘good’. 

Her math prowess allowed her to memorize all the bank’s clearing times and never have a moment when an account didn’t clear. All the while, the funds never really existed. She was commended for her stellar work when, in fact, she was doing illegal work without the faintest clue. One of the banks eventually let her know that she was being used. 

At the same company, she was asked to doctor the reported profits to get a business loan. When she refused, another employee did it instead.

Where some people might have thrown up their hands in disillusionment, Candy saw a chance to learn from the best in the game. “As a kid, I got a lot of good breaks in life, with really great people around me, whether they taught me shady stuff and I learned not to do it, or trusting me to get them out of those situations.” 

She was then able to take those lemons, grown in the shade, and make lemonade with the goal of total integrity in her own work. After helping build a wholesale footwear startup into an eight-figure company and enjoying a brief stint in the Peace Corps, she moved into consulting and found a more permanent home.

Taking out the garbage

Candy’s pursuit of justice in accounting eventually led her to become a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE). As a consultant, companies pay her to come in and figure out why money is missing. Doing that work, Candy established ground rules.

“You can't say no to me about anything. I can talk to anybody, I can see anything, and I can fire whoever I want,” she explains.

Even before officially becoming a CFE, Candy was bringing justice to accounting. With one particular company, they agreed to her terms, except there were two specific people they didn’t want fired. To her, that was an immediate red flag. She sensed that those two people were the ones responsible for the missing funds.

She was right.

Through careful financial detective work, she determined that the President and Vice President of the company were siphoning funds into a bank account with a similar name to the company. The VP ended up with a 10-year prison sentence.

Still, companies shouldn’t feel bad for misplacing their trust. And Candy feels rewarded when she can help them figure out who to trust.

“Sometimes they don't realize who the really good people are, they are placing so much value on bad people,” she says. “It just feels good to clean the house, get the garbage out, and really highlight and showcase the good people.”

Recommended reading: Taking risk is the foundation of innovation

Putting family first

Now that Candy’s a mom, she’s shifted her priorities. While she loves the fraud work and making dramatic turnarounds for companies, she admits: “It sucks the life out of me because you can’t just go in a little bit–it’s all or nothing.”

Her consulting today centers around helping small businesses push to the next level of growth. In her accounting firm, she is proud to have all women, and mostly mom, employees. But she can safely say she’s a better boss than she once was.

“I really was a horrible boss until I had a child. I called and apologized to a number of people that had children that I managed in the past,” she says. 

She feels she was too critical of parents who had to take time off to deal with sick kids. She thought having kids would be easier than it was. The experience humbled her, and she shifted her priorities.

We've made some really good changes so that my team has time off. If there's a sick child, there's going to be somebody on the team to back them up and make sure things are okay. We don't save lives. We do accounting.

Candy Bellau, Kramerica

More freedom

With her priorities reset for herself and her staff, Candy looks forward to more freedom in the future. That means declining big projects in the summer so staff can focus on their families. It also means letting go of less valuable clients. 

Candy credits technology for giving her more flexibility. 

“We have the freedom to say yes or no to projects... I don't think anybody on the team works 40 hours. They're very efficient. We work a lot with technology. We utilize what's out there.” 

Though her own childhood had its ups and downs, she’s happy to give her own daughter, and the children of her employees, the stability they need to thrive.