Saturday, 22 July 2017

Malaysia-Fraud Alert: Know Your Office Manager

Fraud Alert: Know Your Office Manager





​______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Circular No 158/2017
Dated 19 July 2017

To Members of the Malaysian Bar

Fraud Alert: Know Your Office Manager
It has come to the Bar Council's attention that there is a series of ongoing scams aimed at exploiting Members of the Bar, and more than a few have fallen victim to it.

Generally, an individual attracts small-firm practitioners with promises of "steady income" in relation to work that consists of mostly conveyancing or debt collection matters.  What the lawyers have to do — according to these fraudsters — is to merely "lend the name of the law firm", and attest documents, sale and purchase agreements or loan documentation.  One typical scenario is where a fraudster says:

"I will personally bring in conveyancing business.  On record you have to say you 'employ' me, for example as an Office Manager.  Please pay my income in cash because… [the fraudster will provide various reasons to justify this, eg he is a bankrupt].  This way you don't have to pay any income tax, SOCSO or EPF.  I will take care of everything else, including drafting documentation and correspondence.  I have a team of clerks and runners who will take care of all these details.  You don't have to meet the clients.  I will fully manage all dealings with clients on my own.  You don't have to go and check on the developers or banks or even send them letters.  My team will do all that.  Much better if you can please let me set up a 'Branch Office'.  Let me run it for you and I will take care of everything.  You don't have to be there.  Because I have to advise payments out or pay over monies to clients, could I have your client account's pre-signed blank cheques left with me?  Also, consequently, could I please have access to your firm's client accounts?"
When any person approaches you with this modus operandi, you are advised to decline their offer.

What Can You Do?
(1) Do not leave pre-signed blank cheques with anyone;
(2) Do not allow any employee to deal with clients, except under careful supervision;
(3) Ensure that each branch office is carefully supervised by qualified and registered Members of the Bar;
(4) Check and verify thoroughly all payments made into and from the firm's accounts — including the firm's client accounts, branch accounts, and the firm's general accounts;
(5) Maintain a stranglehold over the client accounts;
(6) Set a conservative threshold, and a recorded, written system of approvals.  Any request for outgoing payments must be counter-checked for confirmed written instructions, identity of any authorised payee, etc;
(7) Avoid issuing cash payments exceeding a specified amount;
(8) Where possible, conduct background checks on all new employees, eg reference checks, bankruptcy searches, etc; and
(9) Insist that staff income is paid directly into their bank accounts.  Ensure appropriate and exact deductions are made for the Employees Provident Fund ("EPF"), Social Security Organisation ("SOCSO") and Inland Revenue Board payments.
Members are reminded to be constantly vigilant, and to report suspected or confirmed scams to the Bar Council, by email to the Bar Council Professional Indemnity Insurance ("PII") and Risk Management Department at pirm@malaysianbar.org.my.

Should you have any enquiries, please contact the PII and Risk Management Department by telephone at 03-2032 4511, or by email at pirm@malaysianbar.org.my.

Thank you.

Roger Chan Weng Keng
Secretary
Malaysian Bar
This circular may also be accessed here.





Forklifts; LCD machine; Filling & capping machine for pure water; and more

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