Crime is shocking and often we become immobilised and make poor choices as a result.
If you believe that someone is defrauding your business, take a look at this outline of ‘top tips’ to quickly get your action plan started.
1. Who knows? – Before you react, find out who knows that you are aware of and looking into the alleged problem. Consider if assistance is required to ensure anonymity and professionalism in handling the matter. You need to act quickly and covertly, before anyone may alert any Suspects who may in turn, destroy evidence. Keep the matter secret, as people easily collaborate to build and justify a defence. Don’t jump to conclusions, while remaining unemotional and as objective as possible.
2. Know your story – Establish facts from hard evidence, not rumour or conjecture as to what was exactly stolen, how, when and potentially by whom. Understand what documents, files, computers and networks could be involved.
3. Agree on strategy – Meet in confidence with key people immediately and decide who will be responsible for what and when, what outcomes you want (repayment, prosecution or both), know the Parties (yours and the Suspect’s) rights, risks and potential counterclaims. The Chinese proverb of thinking slowly and acting quickly applies.
4. Collect the evidence – If the fraud is complicated, involves large sums of money or risk and prosecution is an option – you will need to avoid tampering with evidence. Call the police immediately to investigate. Where evidence cannot or is unlikely to be tampered with, (discretion under advice is best) such as with printed bank statements, proof of deliveries, contracts, correspondence etc., – then raid, collect, protect and seize the evidence quickly, but always within the law. Organise and store evidence securely (electronic files, emails, hard disk drives, copies of documents, etc.) Separate formal (for potential prosecution) from informal papers. (supporting documents) Ensure that evidence cannot be tampered with at your premises or remotely online. Advise everyone to keep the matter private (and especially free of gossip or publicity) and that you are merely considering a potential problem. There is no investigation and no one stands accused. It’s business as usual.
5. Reviewing the evidence – This must be done the day after evidence is collected. You need to map out the likely story of what the evidence shows may have happened. Then, investigate further to verify and substantiate that the evidence available is usable and accurate. Interview witnesses and if possible, solicit written statements from them.
6. Drawing conclusions – Add everything together and decide what actually happened, who the Suspects are and who the victim is, what the motive is and how much loss or damage is involved.
7. Confront the Suspect – Deal with the Suspect’s denial, emotions, listen to their story objectively and unemotionally in front of a witness. List or record the Suspect’s statement.
8. Report – Summarise and simplify the fraud in a brief written report, clearly separating fact from opinion and providing hard evidence to support your conclusions. Recommend the options available and the best course of action. Discuss your report with the key people mentioned in item 3. above.
9. Resolution – Don’t coerce an admission with an attractive offer or threats of punishment. If you fairly get a verbal admission of guilt (hopefully in front of a reliable witness) make sure you then follow it up by getting it in writing soon thereafter. You now have the option of negotiating a settlement in writing that suits both parties. Look to cash in on any offers to return stolen funds. In the event that a prosecution is required, you will hand your (soon to be updated) report and evidence to the police or to your solicitor. You are best advised not to withhold any employees rights and benefits (especially if suspension is needed) until the Suspect is found guilty.
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If you have any questions regards a strategy to deal with fraud, please email email@example.com or visit the website www.ldstrategy.co.uk. Feel free to share these tips with others via the social media links below.