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How do you know who to believe?

This last month has been a revelation to me in two different ways. Firstly, I have seen multiple businesses fall victim to a repeat credit offender who has been allegedly defrauding many businesses for years (the case is pending) when all of the evidence of why you would be remiss to trust this individual is easy to find online for even the most technophobic two finger typist.

When you look a little deeper you can find a trail of unpaid contractors, trumped-up disputes, fake trading names, blackmail, hiding behind a trust when it comes time to pay and a refusal to agree to terms of trade, and a horrendous credit history.

Basically all of the behavior that I have learned to recognise in many different repeat debtors – all in one glorious individual.

Before one starts to judge the creditors of the above financial train wreck it is important to mention that the businesses that he preyed upon were established and well-known, with access to the best practice in credit management tools and advice.

But this debtor knew what to say and when to approach the businesses to get the best chance of getting through.

The second part of my revelation was almost the exact opposite to the above.

This time it was me trying to convince a person to believe me.

Our investigation company has been assigned the amazing task of tracking down beneficiaries of wills that the executors of the wills can’t contact and sometimes these “lost” beneficiaries are due hundreds of thousands of dollars bequeathed to them by family or friends that have passed away.

And it is truly my favourite task to find these people and facilitate a life-changing event by honouring the wishes of the deceased.

We were given a case of tracking down a beneficiary of a will and were given a name and not much else.

After nine hours of solid investigation work, we found someone who matched the description and made contact with them via social media and asked them to confirm some details of the deceased which they did correctly.

We then told them that they had an inheritance and we needed their other contact details and proof of identification for the executor.

At this point they got suspicious that we were scammers and asked for proof of our credentials.

We sent copies of our Ministry of Justice Certificates of Approval and the link to the MOJ database for verification, but no matter what we said or did the beneficiary refused to give us any information, in the end we asked them to send us a message on social media that stated “I [XXXXXX] relinquish my claim to the estate” and the funds were placed in the pool for distribution to the other beneficiaries.

After almost 15 years of experience studying debtor and creditor behaviour, it’s easy to think that I have seen it all. But sometimes people can still surprise me.

Just a thought.

Nick Kerr
Nick Kerr
Nick Kerr is regional manager for DebtFree NZ Ltd and director of International Private Investigations Ltd. He can be reached on 021 876 527 and Nick@debtfreenz.com

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