Debt Collection

Former Wimbledon champion Boris Becker has been sentenced to two and a half years in jail for failing to disclose millions of pounds worth of assets in a high-profile bankruptcy swindle.

The tennis ace, 54, was found guilty on four charges at Southwark Crown Court on April 8 2022.

The case was brought in relation to Becker’s bankruptcy dating back to 2017. In June that year, he was declared bankrupt over failure to keep up with repayments on a £3.85m loan from German bank, Arbuthnot Latham.

A pilot scheme in the Netherlands which saw debt recovery specialists brought in to investigate online fraud cases resulted in half the victims getting at least some of their money back.  

The trial focused on incidents where people had made a purchase online but never received the goods they paid for. Working with Dutch police, two debt collection organisations were asked to step in to track down the scammers and work on recovering funds.

In total, a quarter of the victims ended up getting all their money back, while another quarter received some of their money. In total, 87% of the fraudsters either paid back the money or went on to face police charges.

Directors found abusing company closure rules to worm their way out of paying creditors can now be disqualified from holding future positions.

In a welcome crackdown on debt avoidance, the government has extended the powers of the Insolvency Service so it can now investigate voluntary dissolution of companies. If directors are found to have shut down their business with the primary motive of wiping off debts, the Insolvency Service can now bring misconduct charges against them.

As well as being disqualified for up to 15 years, directors could be ordered to pay compensation to unpaid creditors.

The government is set to take action to slam shut a loophole in insolvency rules frequently used by unscrupulous directors to escape investigation over failed companies.

Creditors have long complained that the Insolvency Service’s inability to open cases into dissolved companies has handed directors an opportunity to dodge accusations of malpractice.

When it comes to flexing its censorious muscles over what you can and cannot register as a company name in the UK, it appears that Companies House may have fallen behind the times.

The executive agency in charge of incorporating and dissolving registered commercial entities has long been known as a bastion of decorum and decency. Every year, the government body rejects a few dozen applications to set up companies on the grounds that the requested names are potentially offensive.

Wednesday, 11 September 2019 07:00

Deep Fake: The Next Frontier in Cyber Scams

One of the most notorious incidents of cyber crime to date also stands out for the bare-faced cheek and simplicity of the methods employed. When criminals targeted Austrian aerospace firm FACC, they didn’t bother trying to hack into the company’s IT systems, bring down firewalls with a DDoS attack, or plant malware on its servers to quietly mine sensitive data.

Instead, they simply impersonated CEO Walter Stephan, sending a fake email in his name authorising a junior member of the accounts teams to send $47m to what the email claimed was the bank account of a company Mr Stephan was negotiating to buy. It wasn’t, and the thieves made off with the biggest single haul in cybercrime history.

In our line of work, we come across some colourful characters to say the very least. We all know the stereotypes about the shady circles debt collectors have to move in. Well, while we’re not always keen on the cliches, the truth is in the course of recovering debts, we do have to deal with a motley assortment of fraudsters, conmen, chancers and career criminals, all often operating under the guise of supposedly legitimate business interests.

What we certainly never do is feel any ill will towards anyone we attempt to collect money from. At the end of the day, it is a professional service we provide, to look after the interests of the small business owners, freelancers and contractors who come to us, often at their wits end, to try to get back money that is rightfully theirs. But whoever it is that owes the money, and whatever their reasons for not paying their debts, they are still people.

The number of County Court Judgments (CCJs) against businesses in England and Wales shot up by 12% in the first quarter of 2019, according to official figures from the Registry Trust.

A total of 35,779 CCJs were issued in the first three months of the year with a combined value of £107.2 million - a year-on-year increase of 6% from the same period in 2018. The figures show that judgments have gone up against both incorporated and non-incorporated businesses, part of a longer term trend which has seen the net value and frequency of CCJs increase.

Here’s a debt recovery story with a twist - a sales rep sues his erstwhile employer for unpaid commission, wins, and then discovers that the business unit he worked for has been shut down mid-action, with all its assets transferred to a new legal entity.

The upshot being, a year on from being awarded his claim in court, he is yet to receive a penny.

New figures from the Insolvency Service show a shocking decline in enforcement actions against unscrupulous businesses since the government’s austerity programme was introduced in 2010.

According to the Service’s regular Enforcement Outcomes updates, the number of interventions to wind up companies in the public interest is set to decline again this year, the fourth consecutive annual fall. Over the longer term, in 2009/10 there were 267 successful petitions to close companies down, compared to just 73 in 2017/18 - a decrease of 73%. In the current year, with just a month to go, there have been just 57 completed actions.

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