Chasing Ghosts and Selling Fog
15th April 2016
One of the joys of working in the consultancy industry is that we meet and interact with a large number of people all of the world every day. We are often introduced to and meet new connections from a variety of cultures, backgrounds and disciplines. Some of these new connections can help us directly, some can open other doors however many are parked for a variety of reasons.
We were recently asked to work on a research and due diligence project for the energy sector which has meant our researchers have been trawling through our international network to identify specific contacts which fit some precise criteria, and above all have credibility.
The energy sector is still a very lucrative industry which often attracts many players of a less than reputable background. Scammers, middlemen and timewasters seems to flock to any industry where the trading of high value commodities could mean some type of commission for little work. Quite often dishonesty can escalate very quickly and unscrupulous behaviour is often seen in order to maximise a personal gain, regardless of the consequences.
Part of our research has been to undertake high level due diligence of the connections we meet in order to screen them, to understand their background, interests and risks, before we consider their serious interest in working with us. We don’t have the time to form relationships with people who talk the talk but have little or no substance or experience behind them. Or worse, they have no substance and are actually very damaging for our reputation as they are blatant scammers.
Red flags can be very quickly raised against a potential contact upon starting research about them. Even the most internet-shy of connections leave an online trail of information of where there have been, what they have been doing and where. Inconsistent, contradictory or simply missing stories are very clear indicators that we are looking at ghosts. People reinvent themselves, move countries, jobs and sectors, and start new companies in order to appear as legitimate business people, when in fact they are hiding bankruptcy, past frauds, failed deliveries and general unsavoury backgrounds.
It still amazes me when I hear stories of well-respected clients, including Governments falling foul and losing money to such fraudsters, simply because they don’t carry out basic due diligence on who they were working with before they sign a contract. “All gloss and no substance” is sadly a common trait and our industry is full of such personalities, which once weeded out means we can finally connect with the honest, hardworking and prosperous people who delivery profitable and enjoyable projects.