Bribery and corruption behind Football match fixing in Malaysia

Online gambling on football matches in Asia has reached hundreds of millions of dollars each season – with the risk that those involved in making or receiving large scale bets would seek to manipulate the results by threats or bribes of the players, managers or officials.

Malaysia and the Malaysia Super League (Liga Super Malaysia) is a keen target for such match fixers seeking to cream off winnings from the illegal bookmakers.

To combat this threat, the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) has engaged FIFA’s Early Warning System (EWS) in an effort to combat the issue of match fixing in the country. The FIFA Early Warning System was implemented in August 2016 by the Malaysia Super League (MSL) and will also be extended to international matches hosted in Malaysia. The Football Association of Malaysia have been given a good deal as they won’t have to spend any money on the system, which normally sells for RM100,000 per football season.

The Early Warning System, which was started operations in 2007, is a fraud detection system that monitors betting trends to spot rapid changes in odds being offered and also provides match result analysis. The Early Warning System monitors FIFA competitions, including the World Cup and all qualifying matches, and also works closely with the Asian Football Associations.

Rumours of match-fixing in the Malaysia Super League are nothing new as a number of corruption scandals have surfaced in the past.

The low point for Malaysian football came in 1994-95, when more than one hundred footballers were disciplined with punishment ranging from life bans to suspensions from playing for up to four years. Investigations by Royal Malaysian Police found that there had been gross interference by gambling syndicates to fix the results of games – allegedly physically threatening players who refused to assist. Among those involved included Malek Rahman, Matlan Marjan and Azizol Abu Hanafiah. The arrests and punishments came under a law then known as ‘Emergency Ordinance’, where players could be detained and banished from the game if suspected of fixing matches [the law has since been repealed].

Malaysia came under the football match fixing spotlight again in 2009, when the Malaysian national team played friendly matches against Zimbabwe in Kuala Lumpur – but the games were arranged by notorious convicted match-fixer Wilson Raj Perumal, a Singapore national.

Malaysia managed to beat a higher-ranked Zimbabwe side 4-0 and 1-0 – raising suspicion with the Early Warning System and so the games were investigated by FIFA.

Following an investigation, FIFA revoked the ‘A’ international classification for both matches once it was discovered that a Zimbabwean club team, Monomotapa United, was masquerading as the Zimbabwean national team and were not approved by the Zimbabwean Football Association.

Also in 2009, Lesotho were beaten 5 to nil by Malaysia in a friendly game – with many Lesotho players witnessed going on a shopping spree after the game; generating suspicion as to whether the match result had been interfered with by outsiders.
Since this debacle in 2009, the Football Association of Malaysia has been working with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to investigate suspect results and monitoring players, support staff and identified match fixers. In addition to providing data of betting trends, the Early Warning System will also provide

  • a confidential whistle-blower system
  • a dedicated integrity phone number and email address for anonymous tips to be submitted
  • a monitoring process for all matches in the Malaysian Super League to identify results which may suggest match fixing has been involved
  • an investigation unit to follow up on leads

The Football Malaysia Limited Liability Partnership (FMLLP) Chief Executive Kevin Ramalingam said the implementation of a fraud detection system would uphold the league’s integrity. Kevin Ramalingam added the system will be able to pinpoint players who are likely involved in fixing matches.

Pen drive `of allegations’
Corruption and dishonesty within Malaysian football became a hot topic in September 2016 after
Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin submitted a pen drive, supposedly containing documentary evidence of misconduct, to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

Khairy Jamaluddin stated that he had received the pen drive from the Tengku Mahkota of Johor, Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, in August 2016. The pen drive purportedly contained a 280-page report detailing misconduct and corruption within the Football Association of Malaysia.

However, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission investigation director Azam Baki later reported the commission had examined the contents of the pen drive, but found no evidence under the MACC Act 2009.

 

US Navy officials charged in ‘Fat Leonard’ fraud

A Malaysian national operating from naval bases in Singapore and across Asia has managed to cause one of the biggest criminal fraud cases in US Navy history. US government investigators have detained and charged multiple US Navy officials for offences relating to bribery and corruption.

The Malaysian national is named Leonard Glenn Francis – widely known as “Fat Leonard” – who operated Glenn Defense, a maritime service company which held more than $200 million worth of contracts to resupply and refuel US Navy vessels across Asia.

The scandal became public in September 2013 when federal investigation agents Leonard Glenn Francis, from his base in Asia to San Diego in a sting operation. Leonard Glenn Francis believed that Glenn Defense was on the cusp of being awarded further US Navy contracts; instead he was arrested and charged with bribery and corruption offences. Leonard Glenn Francis has since pleaded guilty to bribing “scores” of US Navy officials with prostitutes, cash, gifts, expensive meals and other indulgences over a decade.

Leonard Glenn Francis has allegedly now admitted to cheating the US Navy out of at least US$35 million by ways of forging invoices, overbilling, running kickback schemes and gouging for standard maritime services. Essentially, Leonard Glenn Francis bribed senior officers within the US Navy so that they would turn a blind eye to the increased charges.

Leonard Glenn Francis operated a sophisticated machine to penetrate various levels of the US Navy establishment to ensure he obtained the information he needed and covered his tracks where necessary. Leonard Glenn Francis allegedly recruited three officers within the US Navy to act as paid moles for the contractor, Glenn Defense Marine Asia, by leaking intelligence about criminal investigations into the company or other information to give the firm an unfair advantage over competitors.

It is alleged that Leonard Glenn Francis and Glenn Defense had:

  • Bribed US Navy officers with access to prostitutes and gifts of cash or electronic items
  • Corruptly arranged the US Navy to grant diplomatic clearance to Glenn Defense so that it could avoid inspections and dodge customs duties into the Philippines
  • Bribed a retired commander to leak Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) files to Glenn Defense to help the firm thwart fraud inquiries.

Leonard Glenn Francis adeptly identified personnel on ship and shore, civilian and uniform, who were willing to work with him to defraud the US Navy. Leonard Glenn Francis even hired retired IS Navy officers who then helped recruit active-duty officers to assist with supplying information.

With the high level contacts with US Navy decision makers, Leonard Glenn Francis was able to have ships steered to certain ports where Glenn Defense could easily overcharge the Navy for services.

Leonard Glenn Francis benefited from the US Navy ignoring warnings over the years from honest US Navy personnel, some who requested reviews and cancellations of contracts due to the huge charges for services that Leonard’s company billed. When he fell under suspicion, Leonard Glenn Francis had a Navy criminal investigator pass him internal documents about investigations into Glenn Defense.

Leonard Glenn Francis was an adept networker and worked hard to cultivate relationships in the Navy. He chose to host lavish parties for US Navy officers at select restaurants and bars, spending freely to entertain. Leonard Glenn Francis would then start the bribery process by giving small gifts to individual officers such as whisky or the services of a prostitute – those that accepted the gifts were then targeted to obtain information whilst the gifts were increased in frequency and value.

In 2008, Leonard Glenn Francis targeted one US Navy officer based at the Fleet Logistics Centre in Yokosuka, Japan. The officer was involved in the naval supply system, responsible with providing logistics support for ships, awarding and overseeing contracts.

This officer provided internal US Navy information on ship schedules, port visits, and how the service would handle ship servicing contracts and controlling costs. Leonard Glenn Francis exploited this information so that he could charge excessive costs. In exchange, the officer received more than US$100,000 in cash, stays at luxury hotels and the services of prostitutes.

Leonard Glenn Francis built up a web of contacts throughout the US Navy – including those on contract review boards, which could recommend and approve bidders for Navy contracts. Leonard Glenn Francis would then have his contacts steer contracts for servicing ships to Glenn Defense in Thailand and the Philippines.

The federal investigation has established that Leonard Glenn Francis ran a decade-long scheme by which he defrauded the US Navy out of tens of millions of dollars by targeting a handful of key points in Asian operations of the fleet.

So far, federal investigators have charged 14 individuals and prosecutors have said that as many as 200 others are under investigation. According to US Navy officials, nearly 30 admirals are under scrutiny for possible criminal or ethical violations.

 

Money cards and Anti Money Laundering

Gift card vouchers can be the perfect solution for a birthday when you’re not sure what present to buy. Simply pay cash at the store or shopping mall and transfer the same value onto the voucher to be used at the designated outlets or mall. Travellers Cheques have been replaced by `Travel Money Cards’ following the same principle – customers deposit funds onto a separate ATM card which are available in various currencies. Incorporating a PIN, the customer can then withdraw the funds from ATM machines in the foreign country until the card is spent. If the card is stolen along with the PIN, then the most that can be lost is the value still stored on the card.

But such convenience has also attracted fraudsters, organised crime gangs and terrorist groups to solve a problem they all face; how to move funds between individuals around the country and overseas without the threat of being apprehended at Customs for cash smuggling or have the Electronic Funds Transfers traced by the authorities.

Recent arrests in the US have documented that some crime groups are increasingly using the money cards, many of which are bought with “digital currency” via the Internet using fake credit cards or compromised bank accounts. With casinos and banks the most established means for money laundering, and thus coming under heavier scrutiny for Anti Money laundering [AML], medium scale money launderers are increasingly turning to `Travel Money Cards’ to distribute their illicit funds because they provide ease and anonymity.

Gift voucher cards are normally designated as closed-system or closed-loop cards because they can only be used at the retailers or shopping mall that issued them. Open-system money cards (such as those linked with card companies VISA and MasterCard) can be used at most retail stores and many of them are useable as ATM cards where the card holder can withdraw the value on the card in cash from most ATM machines in the world.
Because these cards can also be reloaded with funds via online transactions or else at banks or via a cash-tills transaction, they’re an effective method for fraudsters, criminals and money launderers for distributing funds quickly and covertly.

Criminals can thus load cash onto multiple pre-paid open-system cards and courier the cards to their counterparts outside the country. The counterparts can then withdraw the funds in cash in their own currency with ease from local ATM machines. When the card is spent it can be discarded and the cash is untraceable.

There are many businesses and organisations that legitimately purchase gift card vouchers as rewards for their staff for meeting productivity targets or else as gifts for their customers around the holiday periods. Such large volume purchases help to muddy the water for transactions by fraudsters so they don’t stand out. Thus a fraudster can make a series of transactions for a few thousand dollars each time and is unlikely to raise any red flags.

The added bonus for a fraudster is that he can place several thousand dollars on a retail gift card and not have to deal with a currency transaction report – such as he would at a bank – and it wouldn’t be recorded on a suspicious activity report. In fact, experienced fraudsters will avert attention by breaking a large-dollar amount transaction into a number of smaller amounts over a period of a few weeks (a method of laundering sometimes referred to as `Smurfing’). The expiry date on the cards is usually 12 months, giving them sufficient time to transfer the card value back into cash [if they don’t spend it at the store first].

Fraudsters may sell or auction the gift cards online via websites such as  SwapaGift.com, CardAvenue.com, and even eBay. They sell the cards at a slight discount but it isn’t much different than bringing amounts of cash into a casino, buying chips, gambling for a short while, and then cashing out with one or more cashier’s cheques to hide the scheme.

Businesses have to be cautious that their own legitimate buying of money cards has not been infiltrated by a fraudster who person helping them to launder money. We have investigated a number of frauds for businesses where poor procedures and oversight allowed fraudsters to abuse their gift card buying system and defraud thousands of dollars meant for their customers.

As this method of fraud and money laundering is relatively new, businesses need to be aware of this fraud risk and implement monitoring and detection methods to combat any fraud and money laundering.

Do you need to know more about our services and how Regents can assist you with fraud or Anti Money Laundering issues? Simply go to our Contact Us page for our phone numbers or else send an email to contactus@regentsriskadvisory.com with your contact details and we will respond at once. Visit our Fraud Investigations webpage for more information.

Skimming cash frauds

Skimming is the term given to the type of fraud whereby cash from a customer is diverted before it enters the victim company. Embezzlement is the more technical term given to this practice and it is also known as an `off-book fraud’. Detecting and proving a skimming fraud can be fairly difficult as there is no definite paper trail to follow for investigators- the cash never entered the system and therefore is not obviously missed [though of course the theft will show up later as an inventory loss or a profit reduction].

As cash can be so easy to steal and use, any organisation which receives any payments via cash are at risk from this type of fraud. The collection points for cash – check out till, waiting staff, car park ticket issuer etc – are all vulnerable for skimming.

The most obvious form of skimming is where a salesperson receives cash as payment for goods or services but fails to place the cash in the register as a sale. Failure to ring up the full sale amount in the register allows the salesperson to pocket the cash without there being a shortfall in the recorded takings. The register tape / ribbon  is designed to record all transactions so that a reconciliation can be made to confirm that the correct amount of cash as indicated by the sales activity is present in the cash draw.

This operation of diverting cash by the salesperson can be quite difficult as the customer may require change or else may notice the failure to place the cash in the register. The dishonest salesperson may get round this by ringing up a `No Sale’ to open the cash draw and hope no-one notices. A manager or other employee may also witness the errant behaviour and then start to watch more closely. This is why most CCTV cameras in stores are trained more on the cash register and salesperson – rather than the customer – so that the video tape can be reviewed later to spot any thefts of cash.

Some enterprising salespeople have been known to tamper with the cash register so that when certain keys are pressed the transaction is not recorded on the sales tape. Thus, the salesperson can wait for a transaction where no change is needed and pretend to ring up the transaction but pocket the cash later when it’s not busy. This type of manipulation will usually result in a blank space on the register tape where the transaction would have been recorded.

One other option for the fraudster is to simply change or damage the register tape so that some transactions are missing and cannot be relied upon to perform reconciliation. Confusion over which tape relates to which period of business can be enough to muddy the waters and allow the fraudster to get away with stealing the cash.

The above may sound more like petty theft and no great problem to a business. Think again. A salesperson taking $100 a day can quickly drain a business of $6,000 in just a few months. How many retail businesses can afford to overlook those losses? A shop manager is in a position to steal more than a $100 per day and thus a poorly supervised organisation can hemorrhage cash and see profits flat line.

A fraud matter we handled related to skimming involved the manager of a gasoline station. Our subsequent investigations showed that he tinkered with various forms of skimming before he hit on one method which allowed him to steal hundreds of dollars each shift. He had realized that that the failure to ring up sales of gasoline would show up quickly in the lower level of gasoline left [gasoline levels were measured everyday by other shift managers]. Therefore, he chose to skim money from the hire of towing trailers. Customers could hire a trailer for a day for $100 and this was recorded in a separate hiring log.

The manager knew that if he focused on the towing trailers this wouldn’t show up as a loss of inventory. As the manager had the ability to manipulate the final daily figures for the station, he would ring up larger sales as towing trailer hire and then later `refund’ these so that he could take the equivalent in cash. Part of the way we could prove this fraud was that there weren’t any corresponding entries in the towing trailer hire log book and the manipulations occurred late in the shift when only the manager was present and had the power to correct entries. This escapade cost the victim company over $40,000 plus other fees to correct the problem.

What can a business do to protect itself from the simple yet costly fraud of skimming? Supervisors can’t be present at all times and as shown above, managers can turn bad too. To begin with, it is recommended that a business at least take these initial steps:

  • Conduct a fraud audit of the business focusing on cash collection and handling
  • Encourage all customers to request a receipt for every purchase
  • Have CCTV cameras positioned to observe the cash register space
  • Train managers on fraud awareness
  • Have an investigator or loss prevention officer make trap purchases at random times to ascertain whether any skimming is taking place
  • Make sure that all register tapes are handled properly and examined for any rash of `No Sales’, blank spaces, refunds or other issues
  • Have strict rules for cash counting and reconciliation at each shift
  • Consider having a fidelity insurance policy to cover theft of cash by employees

Of course, no system is foolproof over time so you need to keep your eyes open for any subsequent changes. One recent skimming fraud involved the manager of a store opening an hour early without authority and ringing up alls sales on the cash register. Before the official opening time, he would with the register tape and hide the used tape for use the next day. He was found out when an area manager arrived early for a meeting and noted that the store was already open.

This shouldn’t be confused with the incident in New Zealand where a computer error caused a supermarket to open for business during the middle of the night with no employees on duty. Fortunately most shoppers were honest and paid via the self- check out!

Do you need to know more about our services and how Regents can assist you with preventing fraud and theft? Simply go to our Fraud & Integrity page for our phone numbers or else send an email to contactus@regentsriskadvisory.com with your contact details and we will respond at once.

Gift card vouchers and the link to money laundering

Gift card vouchers can be the perfect solution for a birthday when you’re not sure which present to buy. Simply pay cash at the store or shopping mall and transfer the same value onto the voucher to be used at the designated outlets. Travellers Cheques have been replaced by `Travel Money Cards’ following the same principle – customers deposit funds onto a separate ATM card which are available in various currencies. Incorporating a PIN, the customer can then withdraw the funds from ATM machines in a foreign country until the card is spent. If the card is stolen then the most that can be lost is the value still stored on the card.

But such convenience has also attracted fraudsters, organised crime gangs and terrorist groups to solve a problem they all face; how to move funds between individuals around the country and overseas without the threat of being apprehended at Customs for cash smuggling.
Recent arrests in the US have documented that some crime groups are increasingly using the cards, many of which are bought with “digital currency” via the Internet using fake credit cards or compromised bank accounts. With casinos and banks the most established means for money laundering and thus coming under heavier scrutiny for AML, medium scale money launderers are increasingly turning to `Travel Money Cards’ to distribute their illicit funds because they provide ease and anonymity.

Gift voucher cards are normally designated as closed-system or closed-loop cards because they can only be used at the retailers or shopping mall that issued them. Other than retailers, other types of uses for closed-system cards include telephone, internet, dining or hotels.

Whereas open-system cards (such as those linked with card companies VISA and MasterCard) can be used at most retail stores and many of them are useable as ATM cards where the card holder can withdraw the value on the card in cash from most ATM machines in the world.

Because these cards can also be reloaded with funds via online transactions, at a bank or via a cash-tills transaction, they’re an effective method for fraudsters, criminals and money launderers for distributing funds quickly and covertly.

Criminals can thus load cash onto multiple pre-paid open-system cards and FedEx the cards to their counterparts outside the country. The counterparts can then withdraw the funds in cash in their own currency with ease from local ATM machines. When the card is spent it can be discarded and the cash is untraceable. Recent DEA investigations into criminal activity spanning international borders have noted an increase in the use of pre-paid cards with bulk cash smuggling activity.

As the retailers and banks are set to gain when consumers buy these cards – the user has to shop in their store or else the balance says with the bank until it’s depleted – individuals and businesses often purchase large numbers of cards and this doesn’t raise any red flags. Thus a fraudster can place several thousand dollars on a retail gift card or bank card and not have to deal with a currency transaction report and it is unlikely to be recorded on a suspicious activity report. In fact, fraudsters often will divert attention by breaking a large-dollar amount into a number of smaller amounts at different outlets (the method of laundering sometimes referred to as `smurfing’ – named after the little blue cartoon characters).

Open-system cardholders generally do not have to disclose details of their own bank accounts. In many jurisdictions, the banks handling the money that flows through the gift cards are required only to conduct customer due diligence and customer identification procedures on the independent firms that manage the cards and not the individual cardholders.

Fraudsters can muddy the waters further by purchasing a number of cards from several different retailers or banks at different locations or else have a trusted friend to do so. The cards can then be carried on board a flight or else mailed to an associate interstate or overseas and redeemed there. An enterprising fraudster can even sell the cards on websites such as eBay, Gumtree, www.SwapaGift.com or www.CardAvenue.com. The cards are sold at a slight loss but it’s another way to convert the cards into funds.

Investigators and fraud examiners need to be aware of this relatively new method to launder funds by criminals and fraudsters. Whether they can spot company funds being used to buy these cards or else evidence that a suspect has been engaged in such activity [from web browser activity or emails], this may lead to unearthing a considerable fraud or other crime that needs to be pursued further.

Do you need to know more about our services and how Regents can assist you with preventing fraud and money laundering? Simply go to our Contact Us page for our phone numbers or else send an email to contactus@regentsriskadvisory.com with your contact details and we will respond at once.

Chartwell boss to plead guilty to Ponzi fraud scheme

The man behind Australia’s largest Ponzi scheme has indicated that he will plead guilty to over forty separate charges in the Supreme Court despite earlier insisting he was innocent and would contest the charges.
The flameout which became Chartwell Enterprises was operated by 66 year old Graeme Hoy of Victoria. Hoy managed to convince small investors to pour their savings into his business by offering stunning returns upwards of 50%. Investors are estimated to have lost over $80 million after the collapse in April 2008 with hundreds of them living in Geelong.

Hoy had been arraigned for trial in 2011 on more than 200 charges but instead agreed to plead guilty to forty seven counts regarding the collapse of Chartwell Enterprises in April 2008.

The investors funds that were passed to Chartwell Enterprises were used to either pay the high rate of return to the earlier investors or else funded the lavish lifestyle of Hoy.  Hoy once flaunted his facade of wealth and supposed business acumen in Geelong by driving Rolls Royce cars, sailing a yacht and buying luxury homes. Hoy also operated a failed hospitality business named Black Swan Holdings.

Once Chartwell Enterprises failed and he was suspected of fraud, Hoy moved away from Geelong to nearby Melbourne. Liquidators of Chartwell Enterprises soon found that there was little in the way of assets as Hoy had burned through the money living his flamboyant lifestyle.

Incredibly, Hoy has been able to avoid prison so far as negotiations were held between his legal team and prosecutors. Now that Hoy is set to plead guilty to fraud charges, many of the fleeced investors will be hoping he will service a lengthy prison service.

Hoy has avoided being seen Geelong, claiming that he fears retribution from aggrieved investors. However, Justice Terry Forrest has ordered Hoy to return to Geelong for his plea hearing and sentence.

The prospect of Hoy going to prison will be little solace for investors who are unlikely to ever get a penny back. Fred Houte and his family lost more than $5m in the Ponzi fraud.

It will be interesting to see what sentence Hoy receives and how this compares with a sentence for a similar crime in the US, where white collar crime is viewed as requiring severe punishment. Will Australia start to follow the US lead and put white collar crime on the same level as armed robbery?

Do you need to know more about our services and how Regents can assist you with preventing fraud and money laundering? Simply go to our Contact Us page for our phone numbers or else send an email to contactus@regentsriskadvisory.com with your contact details and we will respond at once.

Clock is ticking to unwind Madoff’s maze

It is nearly two years since the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme empire imploded and investors lost an estimated US$65 Billion in funds and anticipated earnings. As the wheels of justice turn slowly, a significant milestone is fast approaching – the two year statute of limitations for civil actions will expire on 11 December.

The Madoff trustee, attorney Irving Picard, is expected to unleash a tsunami of civil litigation in New York and London within the next two weeks. Some observers have estimated as many as 1,000 separate civil actions in New York and London alone.

Picard is expected to pursue those investors who are known as `net winners’ – those people who ended up receiving more in funds than they had deposited before the Ponzi scheme collapsed under the weight of the payment of `dividends’. It has been estimated that there are around 2,000 of these net winners and are therefore ripe for reclaiming the excess funds they have obtained. Some of these net winners are thought to be those who helped direct investments into the Ponzi scheme or else assisted Madoff by advising on the structured repayments.

Those under particular scrutiny are the `feeder funds’ – those who soaked up funds from a myriad of investors and then passed them onto Madoff with a guaranteed return plus a handsome commission for their troubles. In this way, some of these feeder funds earned tens of millions of dollars for the simple act of transferring investor’s funds over to Madoff.

As an example, in July 2010, the trustee took action against the Fairfield Greenwich hedge fund with over forty named defendants in relation to the US$3.6 Billion channeled to Madoff and his Ponzi scheme. The defendants protest their innocence and claim they had no idea as to what Madoff was really up to.

One of the most anticipated fall outs from these civil actions are the results of any disclosure orders made against the defendants. This will require the parties to open their books, accounts, emails and notes to the trustee and reveal what they knew and when they knew it. The net result could be a cascade of further civil actions against other defendants including banks, accountants, auditors and lawyers. There has long been suspicion over the circumstances of why funds were paid out to parties in the months leading up to Madoff pulling the plug on his Ponzi scheme.

Picard currently has over fifteen actions claiming around US$15 Billion from the likes of Madoff’s wife, brother and children plus other feeder funds operators. Picard has taken action against the late billionaire Jeffrey Picower for US$7.2 Billion.

Many people in New York and London will not be feeling vey festive this December as they wait to see how the cards fall and where the legal actions strike. One thing is for sure, this matter will run and run.

Do you need to know more about our services and how Regents can assist you with preventing fraud and money laundering? Simply go to our Contact Us page for our phone numbers or else send an email to contactus@regentsriskadvisory.com with your contact details and we will respond at once.

London counter-terrorism officer jailed for 7/7 property fraud

Counter-terrorism officer Detective constable Daren Pooley has been jailed for defrauding the U.K. London Metropolitan Police Force out of £93,000 [about US$ 146,000] via a property scam during the 7 July bombings investigation. Pooley was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment by a judge at London’s Southwark crown court.

The conspiracy to defraud the Metropolitan Police Force involved overcharging the Police for apartment rentals for Pooley and other officers whilst they were based in Leeds as part of the investigation into the 7 July bombings. The other police officers had no knowledge of the fraud.

When the counter terrorist team was deployed to Leeds for the investigation, they were split into two parties and housed in hotels. The cost per officer for the hotel accommodation was around £3,000 a month.

To save on expenses, the counter terrorist teams were moved to apartments. However, Pooley had by then met his future wife, Nicola Pooley, when she was staying in the same hotel as the teams and started a relationship with her.

The brother in law of Nicola Pooley operated a company called Citizen Group. He arranged for a lettings firm to provide four apartments for the police team, which were smaller and not fully serviced, in the Clarence Dock area of Leeds. Citizen Group paid £650 rental a month for each apartment but then charged the Metropolitan Police Force £1,950, with Pooley and his conspirators pocketing the difference each month.

Experience shows that the opportunities for fraud increase when arrangements are rushed for operational reasons. Decisions have to be made with a lack of information and the chance to review fully the procedures for appointment and expenditure.

To combat the opportunities for fraud under these circumstances, it is advisable to take the following steps when dealing with a major expense in unfamiliar circumstances:

  • Research the availability and pricing for similar goods or services in the same area;
  • Insist that the prospective providers submit details of their fees and conditions in writing:
  • Implement some form of break clause in the agreement should it be found that the charges are exorbitant;
  • Make sure that the decision maker to opt for a certain good or service later justifies their reasoning in writing;
  • When timing permits, conduct verification checks on the providers;
  • Maintain an audit trail of all correspondence between the parties; and
  • Promote a code of conduct for each party to act honestly and have them made aware that fraudulent behaviour will be investigated and prosecuted

For the chance of making a quick buck, Pooley destroyed his career and his marriage. Though Pooley is entirely responsible for his own actions, thought should be given to the fact that had not the opportunity arisen or anti fraud measures suitably explained then Pooley may have passed.

Do you need to know more about our services and how Regents can assist you with preventing fraud? Simply go to our Contact Us page for our phone numbers or else send an email to contactus@regentsriskadvisory.com with your contact details and we will respond at once.

Cyber scams and cheats target job seekers

As more and more job seekers turn to the internet looking for employment, scammers are finding ways to dupe them out of their money. Cyber fraud, money laundering and scams are waiting to tempt online job seekers. Authorities have reported a large rise in online scams targeting those seeking a new job or a casual part time position. Police and investigators are uncovering new variations on old scams being utilised by groups focusing on the vulnerable job seeker.

One of the most successful businesses to transfer on to the internet has been the recruitment industry. Job seekers have found it easy to review various positions vacant in which suit their qualifications and experience as well as post their on details online in the hope of matching a position.

Unfortunately many job seekers, in their desperation to grab the opportunity of making some money, have fallen foul of fake adverts for nonexistent jobs. The dubious advertisers often use an interchangeable roll of generic business names, such as Green Recruitment, and obscure their office location and contact details – choosing to communicate via email only so that tracking them down later is extremely difficult.

One of the popular types of scams is to offer a supposed work from home position which involves the applicant utilising their own bank account to receive and make payments. Unfortunately, deposited cheques are fake or stolen and the electronic transfer deposits are from unwitting victims of different scams.

The fake employer offers to help get the job applicant started by depositing cheques into the job applicant’s bank account. The job applicant is then instructed to pay over most of those funds to other parties via electronic transfers. Unfortunately, the cheques are either fraudulent or already cashed whilst the recipients of the transfers are part of the criminal sting. This leaves the victim not only out of pocket for thousands of dollars but also liable for criminal prosecution for money laundering, however naïve and innocent the victim is.

Another scam is to have the victim complete a fake online application form which includes all their personal information such as full name, date of birth, current & past addresses, SSN or driving licence numbers. The position is nonexistent and the scam is to glean as much personable information as possible to affect the theft of their identity and start taking out false loans, mortgages over their property, credit cards applications etc.

One slightly more innocuous scam is to charge a small fee [usually less than $100] for assistance with finding that lucrative and sought after position. The assistance mainly consists of little more than obvious advice, contact numbers, government website addresses etc. Any person wanting a refund will find it nigh on impossible to contact the entity behind the website and any effort to do so is way beyond the $100 lost.

Some fake recruiters have been known to falsely claim to represent international companies for positions overseas. These fake recruiters then charge `processing fees’ and even go so far as to arrange bogus interview boards and medical examinations. The job seeker only learns that they have been scammed when the promised job fails to materialize and the HR Department of the intended employer has never heard of the agency. By this time, the recruiter has closed down, moved on, changed names and moved offices.

The most insidious schemes are those that dupe job seekers into frauds known as cash smugglers. These frauds are carried out by highly organised criminal syndicates with links to computer crime and money laundering. Victims are duped by fake financial services businesses supposedly operating from Switzerland or Hong Kong seeking “receiving payment agents”. The main qualities they seek are individuals who maintain a bank account and can make transfers [not much of a prerequisite].

The victim will be asked to receive payments into their bank account from “clients” (usually other fraud victims who have bought non existent goods) and forward the money to their “employer” (overseas bank accounts operated by members of the gang). Some victims are allowed to keep ten percent of the funds but most are promised payment later by direct deposit, which never arrives.

Re-shipper frauds take a similar tack but the victim handles goods rather that money. The victim gets taken in by an advert for fake international courier companies looking for a `logistic manager’. The victim then receives valuable items such as PlayStations, iPads and iPhones which have been purchased fraudulently on eBay or else online with stolen credit cards. The victim is required to forward these items to a foreign destination so that they can be resold in a third country for most of their retail price. The fraud normally comes unstuck when Police or investigators visit the victim’s address searching for stolen goods.

Tips to protect you from the scammers

Don’t Spread Your Personal Information. Be wary as to how much of your personal information you put out online via FaceBook, Twitter, postings etc. Scammers will pick up on this information to either engineer a plausible approach to you or else engineer theft of your identity.

Query any unsolicited approaches. Any email which appears to be mass marketed offering easy ways to make money is probably false. Look for a strange email address, poor spelling or punctuation, generic sounding names or addresses and the use of free email accounts.

Be realistic. Ask yourself why a finance company is willing to pay 10% for an act as simple as forwarding funds – what kind of business can’t open their own bank accounts. Computers and other devices are sold legitimately across the globe – why is there a premium discount for buying them in your country? Unless they’re stolen

Ask a friend. Before responding to any dubious sounding emails, ask a friend or relative to have a look and give their opinion. A fresh perspective not clouded by an urge to answer the email will spot it for what it really is.

Check them out. Some basic internet searching can reveal how likely the company is to be genuine. Do they have offices at genuine sounding addresses, how long has the website been running, what are the other links to the website and what information can you cross reference? Visit anti-fraud sites such as http://www.scamdex.com/ for any mentions or similar approaches.

Basically, use your common sense and be realistic about any job or money making offers. The internet levels the playing field in many sectors [think call-centres in India] so when an opportunity claiming to reward you for minimal effort sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Do you need to know more about our services and how Regents can assist you with preventing fraud? Simply go to our Contact Us page for our phone numbers or else send an email to contactus@regentsriskadvisory.com with your contact details and we will respond at once.

Medical and legal experts caution of rise in fraud against Asian dementia patients

As some populations in South East Asia begin to age, a worrying trend has begun to be noted whereby dementia patients are being are victims of fraud by their relatives and friends. With citizens growing richer but still relying on their relatives for care, legal experts have urged people at risk to take steps to protect their wealth whilst they are still able to.

Fraud or mistreatment of the elderly has long been a taboo subject in Asia, a region that places an emphasis on values such as filial piety, family harmony and respect for the elderly.

Countries such as Singapore have recognized the threat of such a problem. The Government enacted the Mental Capacity Act in March 2010 to combat the threat of fraud. The Act provides for an individual to have a nominee to manage their assets when they are no longer of sound mind. The process is similar to a Power of Attorney and involves the medical community Singapore’s public guardian office.

Hong Kong has a Guardianship Board tribunal to resolve disputes over the handling of the assets belonging to an elderly person suffering dementia. The tribunal hears around 300 fraud cases involving senior citizens each year.

Legal and medical experts have suggested that the best method to protect potential victims against dementia fraud is to have an early diagnosis of the disease. Those who know they are at risk of suffering dementia later can draw up wills and enduring powers of attorney while they are still mentally sound, and have them publicly recorded as their wishes on how they and their assets should be treated.

Though Singapore and Hong Kong authorities have begun to address this problem, many other Asian countries have been slow on the uptake. This is despite the fact that the populations in parts of Asia are predicted to age rapidly without an effective legal and social structure to handle the myriad problems of aging.

Dementia is an irreversible fatal brain-wasting disease which weakens the memory, thinking, behaviour and ability to handle daily activities. Patients can continue to live for many years after they have ceased to function mentally. This in turn can result in family conflict with children competing to control the finances of the elder person and cases of fraud and abuse can occur.

The best advice is don’t leave it too late to make a living will. If you are still active but facing a decline in mental capacity, get started on the living will now via a lawyer or other advisor.

Do you need to know more about our services and how Regents can assist you with preventing fraud? Simply go to our Fraud page or else send an email to contactus@regentsriskadvisory.com with your contact details and we will respond at once.