Do you really know who you are dealing with?
Let us help you find out exactly who you are dealing with before signing contracts, taking on new vendors or clients, extending credit, hiring new employees or management, buying a property or a business, contemplating a merger, initiating international business activities or investing your hard earned money. Our goal is to reduce your risk exposure and improve your decision making process by providing you with the most up-to-date and affordable information possible! So whether you need a quick public record search, valuable corporate intelligence, a due diligence report, a business background investigation or litigation support ... consider contacting us. We can help! All inquiries and services are strictly confidential.
Four charged in $17 million Project Bridle Path mortgage fraud investigation
Sophisticated mortgage fraud schemes are becoming more and more common. Be careful when choosing the ‘private financing’ route. Know who you are dealing with and ensure you don’t end up being part of a mortgage fraud scheme or worse, money laundering scheme.
Ethereum Scam Database helps investors avoid cryptocurrency scammers
The Ethereum Scam Database is a useful tool that helps guide cryptocurrency investors away from scammers. Since launching last year, they have identified a total of 2,627 scams including 246 active scams. For more information on the scams identified visit https://etherscamdb.info
Due Diligence for Initial Coin Offerings
The cryptocurrency market is booming with hundreds of Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) looking for financial support from investors. Not all of these ICO will be successful and all such investments are considered to be high-risk with the potential for high return. So, how do you evaluate which ICOs are legitimate and which will have the best chance of being successful? Through due diligence of course!
Here are five things to look at prior to making an investment:
1. Research and learn all you can about Initial Coin Offerings. An ICO is a crowd funding event to raise money for a new cryptocurrency asset, company, or venture. Unlike an Initial Public Offering (IPO), you don’t necessarily own shares of the company. Instead, you own tokens that can be traded on exchanges; the values of which will rise or fall depending on the success of the venture. Currently, ICO are unregulated so they offer both greater risk and greater rewards for investors.
2. Evaluate the ICO venture.
Research the target market. Just like any other start-up, you want to understand who their target customer is, the size of the market and whether the market is likely to increase or decrease.
Research the competition. Look at what solutions other companies are providing.
Ask for a comprehensive business plan and financial plan. Understand how much the ICO is trying to raise and why. Find out know they plan to spend the money raised and determine what their timeline is for product rollout?
Since there are no legal reporting requirements for ICOs to accurately reports key information to investors, an analysis of peer reviewed comments and positing may prove invaluable. This information must also be taken with a grain of salt however as peer reviews have been known to be swayed or bought.
3. Evaluate the community support to determine if the ICO will be supported by reliable exchanges.
4. Evaluate the funding and distribution of coins. How many coins will be created and distributed? Not all ICOs are distributing all of the circulating supply of tokens.
5. Evaluate the team behind the ICO. After all, you need a competent team to manage substantial funds. A team with experience, integrity and an in-depth understanding of the community and the market is one of the most important criteria for success.
With a proper due diligence, investors can identify the pros and cons of each investment. The ICO market is still in its infancy and will no doubt go through many ups and down. Some ICOs may be more popular than other, trading up quickly. But real questions must be asked to determine if there is something substantial behind the coin to support its continued growth and success.
Professional Tenants with Criminal History Exposed
‘Professional Tenant’ with Criminal History Exposed – The Investigators with Diane Swain. This great show provides a great overview of the risks facing landlords and tips on how to protect yourself.
Looking Beyond the Surface
Sometimes you have to look beyond the surface layer to know who you are doing business with … and that’s more important than ever before.
Protect your WIFI network from a KRACK attack!
Last week, information was released on recently discovered vulnerabilities of WIFI networks called KRACK. This affect us all so make sure that your systems are all up to date!!!
Be VIGILANT and ALWAYS monitor your credit activity. Follow-up on any unusual credit inquiries, charges, registrations or postings quickly to avoid more trouble down the road!
Is Canada a haven for shell companies?
Most people do not think of Canada as being a haven for shell companies and corporate tax-abusers however an investigative article recently published by the CBC and the Toronto Star and based on information found in the Panama Papers, finds that Canada is in fact a growing fertile ground for shell companies.
Shell companies can be used for many purposes – both legitimate and illegitimate. They can also be used to provide a certain legitimacy to a company that may otherwise have none. From a due diligence perspective, this concerns us.
I have recently had several international clients tell me that they do not need to conduct a comprehensive due diligence investigation on a company, simply because it is headquartered in Canada. This is a misconception that can lead to expensive consequences. A due diligence investigation on any company you do business with is always a good idea … no matter where they are located or how good they look on paper.
Frauds aimed at business can take many forms!
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.
Auto Body Shop Owner Conned out of Life Savings
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.
Is your due diligence investigation program up-to-date?
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.