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OCTOBER 1, 2010 ISSUE 14

Burton Report on Business Crime


  1. Businesses too busy to worry about crime!
  2. Quote of the Month
  3. Who’s Stealing Your Business Name? Corporate Identity Theft On The Rise

Businesses too busy to worry about crime!

I am troubled by a sentence I read in the middle of an article in which a University of North Carolina Injury Prevention and Research Center spokesperson reported that “some (business) owners think they’re too busy to worry about crime or don’t get robbed enough to consider it a major problem.” I had to read that quote a few times to make sure I didn’t misunderstand it. Couple that with another startling quote (but from a different source) that “ 81% percent of businesses that had an incident of workplace violence in the past year, like an employee injured in a robbery, did not change their violence-prevention program” and you have to conclude that there is a serious attitude problem that can best be described as behaving like an ostrich with its head in the sand.

The context of these quotes is a great article in the Bloomington, Illinois Pantagraph.com newspaper offering crime prevention advice to businesses although it tries to cover too much ground by including burglaries and robberies with a leaning towards the latter since crimes of violence are the most traumatic for employees.

It is conceivable that a small business could operate for several years without being affected by crime but the statistical odds suggest that most small businesses will eventually become victims in one way or another.

Individuals who have coasted through life without too much concern for their personal safety very quickly become motivated to change when they or their families are directly affected by serious crimes such as murder, drinking/driving, hit and run and robbery. To a lesser extent businesses should be motivated to change their way of doing business following a robbery or burglary to protect their assets and their employees. It shouldn’t need a prompt from an insurance company to force change: a responsible SME will learn from past mistakes and do all it can to improve safety in the workplace and discourage criminals from exploiting weaknesses in physical layout or untrained and indifferent employees who are not prepared or equipped to deal with the impact and aftermath of crime. Crime prevention in the workplace need not necessarily be expensive but it can make all the difference and might even save someone’s life.






Quote of the Month

Discovering Fraud in Small Business –

The typical business loses 5% of its gross revenue to occupational fraud and abuse. For a business with an annual turnover of $500,000, that’s $25,000 in lost profits–a loss that is largely preventable

Stephen Hollander, CGA, CPA (Ireland), CFE
Coordinator, Economic Crime Studies
Centre for Forensic and Security Technology Studies
British Columbia Institute of Technology

Who’s Stealing Your Business Name? Corporate Identity Theft On The Rise

It’s been a few months since we drew attention to the problem of corporate identity theft (March 2010 Issue #4 – Small Business an Increasing Target for Identity Theft). Now comes another example out of Winter Garden, west of Orlando, Florida but this time it’s a double-whammy because there are several victims due to the way this scam was crafted.

Imagine in the gloomy setting of an economic downturn where unemployment is high, Floridians logging onto a website that invites them to apply for a job with a well-established project and construction management company. As would be quite normal during submission of resumes a lot of personal information is disclosed. Unfortunately, the employment ads were not placed by the company concerned – Design 2 Keys – and the website used to solicit resumes was actually cloned from the legitimate website for this business.

The fraudsters had designed a lookalike website to fool prospective job applicants into believing they were applying to Design 2 Keys but instead they were unwittingly giving up personal data to fraudsters who only wanted that information to commit identity theft. As an embellishment to this scam the designers were not content to be passive and simply wait for job applicants to wander onto the phony Design 2 Keys website, they accelerated the process by sending out e-mail invitations culled from online employment wanted websites.

So we finish up with several victims. Most hurt are the individuals who surrendered useful information to identity thieves. These victims initially blamed Design 2 Keys because they thought the business was seeking applications for employment and secondly the business owner was confronted by angry people and had to explain to them that he knew nothing about it until his own investigation uncovered the corporate identity theft and the cloned website.

There are several lessons to be learned from this experience. As small businesses grow and their reputation is enhanced in the community they need to be alert to the potential for corporate identity theft and especially website cloning (spoofing). Historically, identity thieves looking for ways to steal personal information would simply post an ad in a community newspaper in a manner that would not raise any suspicion but as is common in the world of fraud, old schemes get dressed up with a different look (but the same objective) camouflaged by devious twists and turns. The advice in the March issue about regularly checking for similar domain names still holds good and had the owner of Design 2 Keys done this he might have forestalled the mess that was to follow.









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