"On The Side"
Inventory accounting and control problems are almost a given in the construction industry. Everything from copper wire to construction vehicles are at least occasionally exposed at job sites and vulnerable to everything from simple pilfering to outright theft.
But the problem isn't confined to independent thieves acting on an opportunity of the moment. It often can be a company's own employees, even supervisors, who dip into the company's assets for their own personal profit.
A small group of employees working at various job sites squirrels away plumbing fixtures during the day - then they return after hours to haul away the goods for resale. As long as they don't get too greedy, the scam can continue from one job site to another over many months.
A construction supervisor takes on jobs for himself and then fulfills his private contracts by using company time, equipment, and even other employees willing to join his little conspiracy.
Since the supervisor is in a position to control information about progress at official company job sites, the employer may never know that equipment isn't where it's supposed to be or that employees aren't working where they're supposed to be working.
An officer of a construction company sets up his own corporation, which he then uses in direct competition with the company to which he has a fiduciary responsibility.
This type of conduct creates an official paper trail, but, unless so real suspicion arises, the trail may never be detected and followed.
|The Best Defense Is A Good Offense
All of these and other types of construction industry scams have a vulnerability in common – they go on in plain sight.
That vulnerability means that my investigative staff often has a clear opportunity to gather the visual and documentary evidence needed by construction companies in order to drop the hammer on the culprits.
The information we gather even may constitute sufficient grounds for the filing of criminal charges.
Gathering The Evidence
Dealer/Resellers of construction materials often don't pay by check or maintain detailed records, except for fairly large purchases; but, in our experience, they do recall and can identify repeat sellers of construction materials.
That's a weakness in any construction-related scam that we can exploit. Testimonial evidence can be useful, but surveillance is the ultimate key to exposing the perpetrators and the scope of their illegal activities on and off the job.
We can set up surveillance at construction locations, storage locations for supplies, and business offices where inventory is missing or equipment may be misappropriated.
Our surveillance would include photographic and videotape evidence of unauthorized activities at these locations, including persons who may be linked to those activities.
In our experience, the likely source of theft is from job sites, where materials and fixtures may be stored but not be well secured because of the circumstances at the site.
Still, even where security is stiff, it is not unheard of for a supposedly trusted employee with key access to storage areas to be a facilitator for, even a participant in, thefts from job sites.
Most, if not all, of this type of activity will occur after hours, primarily after dark, when property will be removed to another location… anything from a commercial storage facility to a participant's garage.
One of our surveillance objectives is to make a sustaining record of the person or persons involved, the means by which a theft occurs, the methods used to transport stolen property, and the storage destination, if any, as well as to identify any reseller to whom the goods are offered.
The key in any construction related theft is the principal person involved. We can establish surveillance beginning at a suspect's residence, following the suspect throughout the day to identify contacts, locations, any activity that may verify the trail of misconduct, including:
As indicated earlier, virtually all types of construction industry scams have a vulnerability in common – in part or in whole, they go on in plain sight.
Our job, as investigators, is to use every tool at our disposal on your behalf to turn that vulnerability against those who would violate your trust for their own personal profit.
You deserve this best defense.
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