9 Red Flags of Fraud in Small Business

fraud

1.)  Employee lifestyle and behavioural changes, living beyond their means.
2.) Weak internal controls/ lack of segregation of duties (i.e. one employee handles all the bank statements, cash transactions and deposits). Ensure double manned deposits and over sight on cash controls.
3.) Management overriding company policies or controls without proper authorization
4.) Inconsistent financial results to market trends
5.) Lack of credible documentation or information (i.e. lack of original receipts for expense reports)
6.) Excessive number of account write offs or unexplained adjustments
7.) Accounts not reconciled on a timely and consistent basis.
8.) Unexpected change of vendor or a vendor without a physical address
9.) High employee turnover

Background Checks on Potential New Hires

corporate-investigations

Making the right hiring decisions is critical to any organization, regardless of size. But getting it right isn’t easy.
We all know the negative consequences of making the wrong hire – it can lower your organizations overall morale, hinder productivity, and even impact customer relations. But did you know that the cost of replacing an experienced worker who doesn’t work out can cost 50 percent or more of that individual’s salary, and these costs go up if the employee has specialized skills.
There are many things you can do to ensure you make informed decisions and hire quality employees and one of them is to conduct thorough background checks.
A pre-employment background check can not only save you money in the long run, it can also protect your business. How? If your employees come into direct contact with your customers (for example, in a care capacity) and it is learned they caused harm to a customer, your business can become liable. A background check can also provide insight into an individual’s behaviour, character, and integrity.

Many Private Investigation Agencies will offer complete background checks while helping you stay compliant with the law. However, like any industry there are the good ones and the ones to be careful of. When sourcing out your background checks to a 3rd party like a Private Investigation Agency always ensure the agency has qualified individuals that can conduct such searches for you. Visit them at their office(s) to get a feel you are dealing with a reputable team. Ask to see their agency licence which should be visibly displayed within their office. Ask to see and confirm they have the proper insurance to conduct the work for you. Make sure if it is a private Investigation agency you are sourcing to that they are licensed as an agency through the Ministry of Safety and Correctional Services. Today many individuals selling the services are just licenced Private Investigators. They need to be working for an agency to sell such services. If you are unsure contact the Ministry of Safety and Correctional Services Private Security and Investigations Services branch @ 1-866-767-7454.

Please Note: It is strongly recommended that you and your team always consult first with a lawyer prior to engaging and conducting background check programs within your respected organizations

Haywood Hunt and Associates Inc. has a team of specialized investigators that can support your organization with conducting a thorough background check. We are a fully licensed bonded and insured Private Investigation Agency. Contact our office to learn more.

Why You’re Vulnerable to White Collar Crime

white-collar-crime-investigations

Why indeed? And what’s white-collar crime? Do you know that white collar crimes affects more people on a daily basis than all the thefts, murders, and other ‘violent’ crimes put together in our present society?

Whoa!

Let’s talk about fraud. Fraud is everywhere, and everyone is very vulnerable. It ‘rapes’ and it ‘hurts’. It’s also brutal and relentless; but then, it is one of those things which people are not so effective at noticing, even when it happens right in front of them!

So what’s white-collar crime and why is it so serious?

Let’s Talk About White Collar Crime

Think about this, each time a corrupt public official or shady businessman commits an act of deceit, it’s not just a one or a few people getting affected. We’re talking of thousands here! Millions even!

That’s what white collar crime is all about!

It is about someone committing fraud on a small or big scale but not obvious or clumsy enough to make the police go after them or notice them.

…and that’s why it is so easy to let their acts slide (for the most part). After all, what’s a few white lies? What’s a $0.05 price increase per pill or per kilowatt hour? What’s a few mistakes done over and over and over again? A little padding of expenses won’t hurt the company (or whoever), right?

We let things like the above examples go by unpunished because it is so easy to shrug acts like these as a ‘normal’ part of human condition. Who are we to judge someone when we are all vulnerable to temptation? Can’t we just forgive and give the other cheek? That’s what nice people do, right?

The Vulnerable Mindset

Do you know that people with ‘criminal minds’ can see through someone with a vulnerable mindset? That it’s unbelievably easy to ‘go for the kill’ when someone is simply asking for it?

That’s how white-collar criminals sees things. Naïve and nice people are prime targets. They’re ‘easy pickings’, more so if they have an exploitable weakness.

What’s that?

Being very understanding is an exploitable weakness. Being easily swayed is another exploitable weakness…same as being too trusting.

Have you ever been taken for a ride? Pranked?

If yes, and yes, then it might be time to take a long hard look at how you handle yourself, because this means you’re easily taken advantage of.

So how does this relate to white-collar criminals?

The White-Collar Criminal Mind

White-collar criminals consider your morality, needs, good nature, ethics, desires, and humanity as weaknesses which can be exploited and used against you. They use a potent combination of deceit and persuasion to get what they want. That makes them fraudsters; hence, the term white-collar criminal.

Ouch! Sounds familiar?

What you need to know is that the white-collar criminal is in for the long con. They will make you like them with a combination of charm and deceit. In fact, you’ll like them so much it will be difficult to expose them for who they are.

You see, a white-collar criminal can be generous, nice, and even do ‘good deeds’ – but all with an ulterior motive. Think of it as someone going on a date with the intention of drugging the date after gaining a bit of trust. That’s how it is, only a lot more subtle and really for the ‘big heist’.

What You Can Do

Don’t be a victim. No matter how nice you think someone is, if you feel something is off with that person, distance yourself and try to look at the situation with an objective eye. Better yet, ask a professional or a trusted friend.

Don’t think that the threat of punishment is enough to deter people with a nasty endgame. If caught, they will say sorry, act repentant, and make you feel that you’re being too harsh on them. It’s a never ending cycle and you being taken for a ride just won’t stop unless you stomp your foot on the brake.

To Sum it Up…

If someone is making you doubt yourself or your gut feel of that person is not jiving with what you see, it is best to investigate and hold off trusting that individual (unless you’re family, but private eyes can help with that as well).

Hey, if you want answers, we’re here. All it takes is a phone call and you’ll finally have the answers you want. Remember, white-collar criminals are good, but having a good (private) eye to look out for them is wayyyyy better!

If you are looking for a private investigator in the Toronto area, give us a call today!

Social Media Investigations: 5 Must Know Tools

social-media-investigations

Any investigator worth his salt these days knows that harnessing the power of the social web is a must. With so much information being shared by people via their social media accounts, the amount of data you can harness just by knowing what tools to use is impossible to ignore – and you shouldn’t be oblivious to it!

Why?

There has been instances when the information which is publicly available via social media has served as the deciding evidence for building a case and closing it.

Don’t believe it?

In fact, one large-scale investigation about a certain executive of a certain company was done like that. It did take about a hundred hours for the team of investigators to put together a compelling story – but they did it, all thanks to their social media know-how.

So how do you use social media to help you out with your investigations? It’s no secret at all! Here are some tools and techniques you can use to launch and complete a successful social media investigation.

Reverse Image Search

There is nothing you cannot find via Google reverse image search if the image is publicly available or has been ‘published’ on the web. For real? Yes! Right click on any photo and scroll to ‘search google for this image’. You’ll see if an image is legit, stolen, or if there are people connected or tagged to it. Yes, that includes Instagram posts, blogs, and Facebook posts!

Is this tool perfect? Nope. Not by any means. One thing for sure is that this is better than Tineye though is limited to photos which are publicly available and indexed; but hey, it’s free!

So how do you use this? Ever ‘dated’ anyone from overseas or not sure if the item you’re buying online is from a legit seller? Do the Google reverse image search and it will save you from a lot of headache (and heartache) in the long run.

Facebook Graph Search

With the information being shared at Facebook, this platform is a mine field of data for internet-savvy investigators. How so? All you have to do is enter a few words and some clicks later, bham! There’s your information.

How does this happen? You see, Facebook is not very good with privacy and very few people really bother to check their privacy settings, letting valuable information slip just like that to people (like you) who shouldn’t have access to it.

With the graph search, finding someone and finding information about someone is relatively easy. All you have to do is enter the name and city and you’ll be given a list of people with that data.

This really is an incredibly powerful tool. Imagine that you can even find someone just by knowing their first name and the places they frequent. Yes, it also applies to places like hotels and bars if that person checked in at Facebook when visiting; isn’t that amazing?

Oh, and if that person somehow have set his or her Facebook profile to private, you can still find out information about them by searching via friends or family members. Information gold mine indeed!

Instagram Search

Hey, we cannot mention Facebook without mentioning Instagram, right? A picture is worth a thousand words after all. Now, imagine more than 20 billion photos (and growing), that’s more than 20 trillion words! Information overload!

Instagram has more than 200 million active users, all posting photos at least a few times a week or selfies at least a few times a day (hey, some people are vain, and their vanity is your tool!).

The only problem with Instagram is that it is not super friendly for desktops users as it is built for mobile use. However, there’s something called ‘Instagram for Chrome’ which enables you to search for GPS tags, user tags, and hash tags to find someone and their ‘inner circle’ of friends and family. This will come in handy when doing your Facebook search for those with private profiles.

Spokeo

Spokeo doesn’t always work, but when it does, oh boy, you’ve hit jackpot!

How does Spokeo investigations work? Well, Spokeo can search the top social media websites if you have a certain person’s email address. Yes, it is THAT easy.

So when do you use this? If you suspect someone is cheating or is using a fake name, or have multiple identities and profiles, all you need is that person’s email address and you’ll find out what you need to find out…unless if that person is smart enough to use different emails for his or her ‘other activities’.

Knowem

Speaking of people who are not using their real names, Knowem is the tool to use. How?

Well, it just so happens that psychologically speaking, people are creatures of habit. They often stick to their username or internet handle through the years. For instance, if someone is mrinvestigator19 on a certain site, you can bet he is mrinvestogator19 on other websites as well.

Knowem is fantastic because it can help you search more than 500 well known social media networks to track down someone. Sure, sometimes someone else may use a certain username but chances are, you’ll find some juicy tidbits just by using Knowem.

To Sum it Up…

Are these 5 tools and sites all you’ll ever need for an epic social media investigation? Of course not! You’ll still have to use lots of the old-fashioned sweat and time (make that total finger workout!) to find what you need. Think reading hundreds or thousands of tweets, browsing awkward selfies, and reading through the everyday drama plus bits and pieces of life shared via social media. This is where a little bit of internet-savviness won’t hurt and of course, you’ll have to be social media literate.

If you are looking for a private investigator in Toronto, contact us today!

What Makes Your Organization Vulnerable to Fraud

fraud-investigations

We’ve been focusing on tips about detecting and preventing fraud lately but let’s face it, none of those will work if you are not doing anything about what makes you vulnerable to fraud. Your weaknesses are costing you a great deal of money and the more you are not looking into what makes your organization vulnerable to fraud, the more it will cost you in the long run.

Fraud Risk Checklist of Characteristics

Do you want to know what makes your organization vulnerable to fraud? Checkout what’s written below!

  • You think that fraud does not concern nor affect you. Non-profit organizations, businesses, and charities are losing millions to scams each year; because guess what, some scams are specifically designed to con a specific organization. What makes things worse is that most victims of fraud and scam aren’t even aware that they’ve been victimized. Could you be one of them?
  • You believe that you don’t have time to deal with or get more information about fraud. There are tons of free fraud prevention resources You’re reading one of them now!
  • You don’t have a set of procedures for authorizing purchases, paying invoices, and reviewing expenditures.
  • You often agree to pay invoices and pay invoices over the phone. Have you heard of phoney invoices? Yes, they do exist!
  • You often pay bills without checking if they are your legitimate bills. Paying just to get things over and done with is one loophole that scammers are forever exploiting.
  • You go through frequent staffing changes. A high turn-over rate for volunteer and/or part-time staff members means more people knows how things work in your organization. It is only a matter of time before a ‘trusted’ colleague or staff slips and lets out crucial information that fraudsters can use against you.
  • Your organization is subscribed to a lot of services. Do you know that oftentimes, companies are still charging clients long after their subscription has ended? There are also times that a fake invoice for a subscription fails getting detected because too many subscriptions means you may not be able to keep track of everything. This is how a fraudulent company creeps in to your books and becomes one of your regular bills.
  • You don’t believe in reporting fraud. Some organizations simply do not report fraud because they’re ashamed or embarrassed or just don’t know what to do. Some believe that no good will come out of reporting and that it is an utter waste of time. Do not be a part of the estimated 95% of fraud victims who never report it. Law enforcement agencies and other businesses depend on you to take fraudsters off the radar and make conducting business safe for everyone.
  • You don’t believe in having measures to prevent fraud. Have you heard of the phrase “if you are not part of the solution, then you are a part of the problem?” That truly applies here. Failing to protect yourself from fraud by at least trying to prevent it is like jumping unto a lake with your ankles shackled to a big boulder. There is near no way you won’t drown. Are you sure you are fine with that?

Act fast by acting now. Read our fraud prevention and fraud detection articles to see how you can start making your organization better at deterring fraud. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need further help. Remember, freeing your organization from fraud starts with you!