As a professional fraud investigator, I can say that I have seen all kinds of frauds throughout my career. Likewise, many people have tried to commit fraud against me, especially while eagerly traveling the world. So I would consider myself to be pretty astute in these matters. But even the astute can be challenged.
As a business owner and a due diligence specialist, I know that we have to trust the people we are doing business with …. to some extent.
We trust that they are telling us the truth, that they really do want our services and / or products and they are willing to pay for them.
And if we have aptly employed our due diligence procedures, then we have already vetted our potential new client to verify their legitimacy, purpose and perhaps even their credit history. But how do we protect ourselves when by all accounts, it looks like we entering into a legitimate relationship with a new client?
A few years ago, we were approached by a European investigation firm requesting our services in Canada. According to them, they were working on a multi-jurisdictional fraud case and needed an investigator in Canada to assist them. Prior to commencing work with them, the company was thoroughly vetted and everything check out. Of course what we didn’t know then, was that this company had been set up and licensed as an investigation agency by former law enforcement personnel (or individuals impersonating them) for the sole purpose of committing fraud.
In order to commence this complex investigation, a substantial retainer was requested and received. The money came and was quickly deposited however within a few days, the investigation had been cancelled. The client then requested a partial refund as per our contract.
Weeks of back and forth discussions initiating the contract was followed by a short two sentence email cancelling it. Red flag # 1.
We agreed to refund the money once the cheque had cleared. For those of you that don’t know, a cheque has not cleared just because funds have been made available in your bank account. It can take anywhere from 2-4 weeks for a cheque to clear through the international banking system.
Shortly after advising the client of this, we were told that the investigation was back on. Only now, the investigation budget had doubled and they wanted to send an investigator to Canada to assist us. Red flags # 2 and # 3.
For the investigator to receive an immigration visa, he needed an engagement contract. Once in Canada, he would pay the full amount of the investigation up front and in cash. Red flags # 4. By now, it was clear what was going on.
Lucky for us, we had established fraud prevention procedures to follow.
But how many companies wait the full clearance period before issuing refunds? Or get caught entering into engagement contacts that are then used to secure immigration visas? Or worse?
Companies are at risk of being defrauded just by being open for business. Even with the best due diligence program in place, fraud can happen. So don’t stop there. Protect your business from unintended harm by developing and implementing a comprehensive set of fraud prevention policies.
A recent article published by the Toronto Star highlights the need for doing due diligence prior to entering into new business deals or transactions!!! View Article.
As a leading provider of due diligence investigations, we have been conducting due diligence investigations of all sorts for nearly two decades now. Many of our first clients are still with us and together we have pushed boundaries as the evolution of what constitutes due diligence has taken place.
Due diligence is no longer a term that can be used to describe a cursory investigation process that focuses solely on surface or superficial information.
Today’s standard of due diligence now requires a much deeper investigation that is broadly focused on obtaining ALL relevant information and / or verifying ALL material facts that may assist the client in determining the potential risk of a transaction.
For example, it may not enough to simply know a company is legally registered. You may need to independently verify all of the information obtained from the corporate registration. Does the company operate at the address provided? Who are the named principals and what is their relationship to the company? Does the company use other operating or trade names? Have there been recent changes that may affect the transaction in question or the quality of the investigation? If you really want to identify red flags or areas of concern … you have to dig deeper.
As with all business decisions, investigation budgets and time constraints may limited a client’s desire or ability to meet today’s standard of due diligence. Many operate under the misapprehension that some due diligence is better than no due diligence and in some cases that may prove to be true. But from my experience, I find that this often leads to an mistaken sense of confidence leading clients to take more risk than they may otherwise would have.
If you have been conducting the same due diligence investigation for years, it may be time to re-evaluate and improve upon it. Ensure that the due diligence investigation you have is designed to meet your specific needs and objectives.
This type of fraud seems to happen more often these days. Forex trading is fraught with risks in itself. To protect yourself, always do your due diligence before investing with any individual and / or company especially online companies who can easily misrepresent themselves.
And don’t stop there. Conducting a post-investment due diligence is a great way to identify when legitimate companies are heading for trouble. Often, companies can cut and run after years in business. There are often signs before hand so if you are paying attention, you may have a better chance to get out before its too late.
Enviro-Lynx Investigation also won the M&A Award for Fraud Investigator of the Year: Canada in 2012 AND 2013.
For more information on this award, you can visit the Acquisition International’s M&A Awards site. You can also view more information and regular updates on our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/EnviroLynxInvestigations.
Savvy consumers don’t buy a car or a house without first taking a good look at what we are buying. Likewise, employers shouldn’t be hiring employees or employing third parties (individuals or companies) without first understanding who they are and what their background is.
We offer a number of screening services as well as background and due diligence programs that will help you reduce your risk and improve your decision making process by providing you with the most accurate, up-to-date information possible.
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