How to report business fraud

Business fraud is illegal or dishonest activity by a company or individual that is misrepresented as a legitimate business endeavour. It is undertaken for the purposes of achieving financial gain or advantage. This is also known as corporate fraud. 

Business fraud entails the employee(s) or other person(s) connected within the business going beyond or outside of their job role or capability. It has extensive impact on the business itself, its employees, third parties or clients and the industry within which the business operates. Fraud can also be referred to as extortion, a scam, con, swindle or a hoax.

Business fraud can be perpetrated by those in ownership or control of the company or at a high level of management or directorship but can also be perpetrated by others employed within the company without the knowledge or awareness of management.

There are many forms of corporate fraud that a business or individual may perpetrate:

It may be the misuse of company held information such as customer records and personal details; this can be used for purposes other than the stated intention when the data was collected or shared unethically and illegally for financial benefit or other gain.

Alternatively, it can be the misuse of this information, or of assets held by the company, in a manipulative manner to achieve leverage or gain.

Business fraud includes the falsifying or altering of company accounts or revenue recording to disguise debt or misrepresent the financial status of the business to gain credit or investment, to sell the business for a more favourable price or even raise share value.

Finances and revenue within the company can also be used for a purpose that was not intended or declared. This may include being diverted to be spent on or invested in personal or other business projects by the company themselves or individuals within the company who have access and control over financial assets. A business or individual might also falsely claim that funds are being spent or donated to charitable causes to raise prestige or revenue when this is not the end use of the money.

Another form of corporate fraud is the misrepresentation or goods or services sold in which the client does not receive the end product they were told they were buying, or it is of a different nature or quality than they were led to believe. It can include the deliberate hiding or flaws or issues with the product or service to prevent this from being known by the purchaser. 

Cyber crime covers any illegitimate use of computers and technology and covers acts such as hacking to access or alter company information or systems and distribute false communications. Cyber crime poses a significant risk to any business today where technology and the internet form such an integral part of every-day working life.

A business or individual can also commit insurance fraud by making a false claim regarding an incident or injury or damage to property (be this physical, intellectual or technological), or by providing erroneous or altered recording of assets held and owned by the company or being dishonest about how an incident occurred or what prevention and safeguarding technologies were in place to increase insurance pay out or obtain it when the business was not complying with the stated insurance terms and conditions.

Business fraud covers a wide variety of acts and offences and has significant impact on the business itself as well as the many other individuals, communities, agencies and the industry connected to it. If you suspect business fraud but don’t have evidence you may want to enlist the help of our corporate investigations team who can provide you with evidence to secure a conviction.

It is possible to report business fraud whether you are the victim or are aware of a victim of business fraud, the business itself or a witness and there are several agencies in place specialised in responding to the various types of business fraud that may have been perpetrated.

It is important that any act that has caused or threatens harm to any individual is reported to the police as this is a crime and needs to be investigated as such.

Action Fraud has been set up in partnership by City of London Police and the National Fraud Intelligence Service and deals with cyber crime. Reports of this type of fraud can be made 24 hours a day by accessing  their website www.actionfraud.police.co.uk to report online or calling 0300 123 2040. The police collate the report and information and this is passed on to the National Fraud Intelligence Service for investigation.

If you think that you may have received communications about a potential scam or phishing attempt, or have viewed a website that you are suspicious of, you can report this to report@phishing.gov.uk which will then by investigated by the National Cyber Security Centre. You can also report any misleading or scam advertising to the National Advertising Standards Authority, as well as to the search engine itself that you used to access or view the advertising concerned such as Google or Bing.

Any tax or accounting fraud needs to be reported to HMRC; VAT, Customs and Excise Fraud all fall under this bracket and can be reported online on www.gov.uk. There are online forms available for reporting purposes and you are able to remain anonymous if this is a concern for you as there is no need for you to provide your personal details when raising this.

Any company that is acting in a fraudulent manner by taking money for goods or services that are misrepresented or not received, has committed some form of scam, is not reporting tax details correctly, owes money or has caused any form of harm to those connected to it such as customers or suppliers can be reported to Companies House, again on www.gov.uk.

It is also possible to report a business to Trading Standards if they have undertaken fraudulent acts such as selling a dangerous item, misrepresenting goods or services sold or not providing these following receipt of payment. Reports to Trading Standards are made via the Citizens Advice Consumer Service and there is further information and online reporting tools available on their website at www.citizensadvice.org.uk.

If, however, you are a business owner or director, an employee or a customer or supplier that has suspicions about fraud but are unable to determine whether this is actually being committed and feel that you need to know more before taking the action of reporting.

Or if, as a business, you wish for whatever reason to manage any potential fraud in house without alerting authorities, another option available is to recruit the services of a professional private investigation agency. These are the experts in uncovering any acts or behaviour that may be harming your business or affecting others connected to it, and will provide irrefutable evidence if a crime is being committed.

This will give you clarity and peace of mind as to exactly what is going on and who is responsible, and the proof that you need to take action to address risk and achieve damage limitation for your business revenue and health, reputation and future. 

Private investigators are specialists in undercover investigation and use physical skills such as covert surveillance and tracking alongside technology such as surveillance equipment and access to information and databases not available to the public or other industries.

They can also provide you with advice and guidance around the technologies and softwares that can protect your business as well as other steps you can take to minimise risk.

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