This week’s Scam Case Series will feature an Advisory Edition on the Small and Medium Enterprises’ (SMEs) Business Investment and Acquisitions. This advisory is apt given that the recent business climate has been relatively vibrant. Trade associations and various governmental bodies have plans slated to boost the economy. However, there has also been a rise in trends of scam cases in Singapore.
Based on the recent cases undertaken by KX-Unit itself, close to half of the cases we received from our Anti-Scam Assessment (ASA) deals with elements of scammers or business plans that are too good to be true. To set the stage right, a general advice to keep in mind is the old adage that if something is too good to be true, it usually is.
Nonetheless, this article will highlight a few ways that KX-Unit’s Anti-Scam Assessment (ASA) is invoked to help our clients systematically with business analyses and background checks. The Advisory will be split into 3 parts: Background Check, Business Plans or Proposals, and Contractual Agreements.
1) Background Check
A background check can come in many forms. It may feature a specific focus on the individual, or their company. Accordingly, details about a person or company’s track record, business history, financial reliability, and more are systematically analyzed under KX-Unit’s Anti-Scam Assessment rubrics.
These information are generally available for purchase online. Credit Bureau Singapore is one of the many sources available as “Singapore’s most comprehensive consumer credit bureau” to enhance Singapore’s “risk management capability”. A reasonably complete risk profile of a customer can be obtained to provide prospective business partners with more information. However, the information may not be immediately comprehensible to all, as some industries require in-depth and tacit understanding to make sense of the data obtained. The staffs at KX-Unit, with their vast and in-depth experience accumulated over the many cases that has been undertaken is in a good position to help clients understand and interpret these information.
Some of the other sources include Bizfile from ACRA and also Datapool. KX-Unit have frequently used the above mentioned sources to systematically analyze for our clients the risk profile of their prospective business partners and also interpret the many patterns and trends, numerical data, and more for our client. At the end of the day, we sincerely believe that if you are undertaking a business proposition involving $10,000 or more, then you should consider investing a little bit more in a service like KX-Unit’s ASA. It would do you more good than harm to have a check done, and get professional third party advice before jumping into a proposal.
After all, you will want to know if your prospective client has had a track record of starting and closing businesses, and if this happens within less than a year what it could mean, etc. The key is that every case is different and the context governing them is also different. Rather than adopting your own mental model towards assessing risk, it might be good to get a third party perspective to interpret and provide some advice.
2) Business Plans or Proposal
Next, every business needs a business plan and proposal. But do you actually understand how money will be taken from you to be invested? Is it taken as a loan or as an investment? Is what you are being told the same as the actual business plan?
These are important because con artists and scammers have the ability to work like a salesman, and not any type of salesmen but only the unscrupulous ones. They work conscientiously to sell you their confidence and the façade of their resourcefulness. It is usually very telling because one of the indications of such charming scammers is that they have only a very general knowledge of the business proposal, if it even exists. They work hard to sell you their good will and gain your trust, even making you feel awkward and embarrassed sometimes to pressure you into committing to the business proposal.
But fret not, because at the end of the day it all boils down to THE plan. Ask yourself a few questions: Is there actually a systematic plan? Have you given your trust already? Do you actually understand the plan? Are you going to make more than 10k from the business? And if you are, is it worth it to take the risk of a possible scam? Chances are, you may be told that this new plan is out to “penetrate new business markets” and that it’s pointless to check out for existing information because it has not been out there yet. When such things happen, take a step back, and always seek to get more information (refer to part 1). If you think it is worth it, get a third party opinion, because a thirty party will always see a clearer picture. KX-Unit will have the necessary experience to help.
3) Contractual agreement
Last but not least, the fine print in the contractual agreement. Even if there appears to be a coherent and sound plan, what will matter is also ultimately what you put your signature to Ideally, the best course of action is to get a lawyer who deals with commercial transactions to vet the contract. In this way, whatever loopholes in the contract will be surfaced. That said industry experts and consultants with the relevant experience are able to provide you with a holistic assessment. This includes not just looking through the contracts systematically, but also the track records of the individual and company.
Generally, based on the cases that KX-Unit have undertaken, there is a tendency for most people to look at a contract and get a sense that they can be protected by a “black and white”. But this may actually be a façade. This is because the contract may actually include clauses that state that that the dealing is more of a “loan rather than investment” and also that there will be “no liability that will be borne by them”. Some cases involve contract that must be signed overseas so they cannot be enforced in Singapore. There are simply too many different tactics employed by scammers out there.
KX-Unit hopes that this short edition has provided crucial information for SMEs with who may have plans to expand. Ultimately, business propositions are no small matter, and if you consider that some information (which is not known to you then) can potentially avert a grave corporate disaster, it might actually make more business sense to seek a professional opinion.
KX-Unit warmly extends our professional services to you, our expertise and exposure to countless complex cases of Debt and Scam Cases have provided us with a critical understanding on various trends typical to a particular industry. Objective analysis on business owners and their temperaments through various sources are also part of our KX-Consultancy initiative, of which Anti-Scam Assessment is a part of. So, feel free to contact KX-Unit at 8112 7790 or drop us a mail at enquiries@KX-Unit.com. Alternatively, you can visit our website at http://www.KX-Unit.com for more information.