Letha L. Sparks, 73, forensic accountant, Texas State Securities Board (Enforcement Division)
Sparks, an accounting major who finished college at age 41, found she had a passion for uncovering fraud.
Since 1998 she has pursued scammers, seeking out suspects undercover by posing as an investor.
In 2009 she analyzed thousands of documents relating to an insurance scheme in mere days, finding evidence that enabled a speedy shutdown and the return of nearly 70% of investors' money -- an unusually big recovery. Over the past three years, she has helped expose over $750 million worth of rip-offs targeting more than 4,000 people.
"Little by little, I can whittle away at the con man and make a difference. I can make sure justice prevails."
For these MONEY heroes, helping people in the workplace learn to manage their personal finances is an assignment they don't shirk.