Top 5 Most Sensational Business Frauds of all Time

Top 5 Most Sensational Business Frauds of all Time

Frauds and financial scandals have been a constant feature in the business realm. Fraudsters, even here in Australia, are all over, constantly looking for the next way to make easy money. As technology advances, sometimes businesses end up playing catch-up with technology and loopholes in the financial system. That’s what makes it easy for them to execute their plans to scam others.

Some of the masterminds of these schemes are very good in what they do, to the extent that sometimes their schemes take years to unearth. Some even take years to gather evidence for the courts. In fact, there are many business-related court cases here in Australia associated with fraud that have been difficult to prove.

In this post, we will look at 5 of the most sensational business frauds of all time. These are some of the most well-planned and executed though they eventually got unearthed. However, the colossal amount of financial damage was huge. Below are the 5 most sensational business frauds of all time:

1. The Ponzi Scheme

businessman sharing couponsI know this term will sound familiar, especially with people that have lost money to Ponzi schemes in the past. The term comes from a fraud scheme that was planned and executed by Charles Ponzi back in 1918. The financial market was doing very well after WWI, and most people were not familiar with frauds and scams. With such an environment, Charles Ponzi saw an opportunity to con people by buying and selling reply coupons.

Ponzi planned to purchase the coupons cheaply in Italy and sell them at a higher price in the US. The expected returns on the investment were 400 percent. It is such profit margins that brought many investors into his business, which was operating legally. The scheme worked by collecting from the public and paying the first investors in order to attract new ones. More investors put their money in the business but what they were getting was statements of accounts only.

The authorities uncovered the fraud, and Ponzi was sent to prison. But investors lost their money to the con artists. It was the biggest scheme of this kind where investors lost about USD 200 million. That’s why today, these kinds of con artists’ schemes are named after this fraudster.

2. Baring Bank Collapse

This is another fraud that shocked the financial industry in the year 1995. What’s interesting about this scandal was that it was perpetuated by a single individual, Nick Leeson. He brought down a bank that had been in the business for 238 years. During the time of the collapse, the bank had the Queen of England as a client.

During this year, Leeson was the head derivative trader for Baring’s Singapore operation. Unfortunately, business was not good for the bank, and he chose to conceal the losses. In the eyes of the investors and his senior in London, the business was doing well, while the truth was quite the opposite.

Leeson thought he could recoup the bank’s losses, but things went from bad to worse. In the end, the resulting debt was more than US$1.3 billion, which was twice the bank’s capital. That’s how the Baring Bank collapsed, and Leeson got sent to jail.

bankrupt bank

3. Enron Bankruptcy

This is another business fraud that shocked people around the year 2000. It left many investors counting losses after the bank lost its share value abruptly. Enron was named ‘America’s Most Innovative Company’ for six years in a row. That was because of the huge profit margins ranging between US$101 billion in 2000. But what investors did not know is that the bank was sharing fake data.

The CEO Jeffrey Skilling and the Founder Ken Lay plus the CFO Andrew Fastow, had conspired to lie about the revenues. Most of the US$101 revenue was due to ‘planned accounting fraud,” which had created limited liability special purpose entities where the company hid its liability. But the secret did not last long, as a whistle-blower revealed it to the authorities.

The news about the fraud caused their stock to drop from a high of US$90 to just a few pennies. That’s how the bank collapsed, and investors lost a lot of money because of this fraud. To date, how the Enron bank managed to execute this scheme so efficiently for so long baffles many.

Both the CEO and the founder got convicted of fraud and sentenced to prison. What made this fraud a sensation is that the bankruptcy was the largest in US history at the time.

4. Madoff Investment

We talked about the Ponzi scheme in the first fraud, but we can say the Charles Ponzi scheme was child’s play compared to the Madoff investment scheme. Bernie Madoff pulled one of the largest Ponzi schemes in history with his cleverly crafted plan. What makes this scheme a sensation is that it ran for more than two decades.

police handcuffs on tax form and money

With this cleverly crafted fraud, Madoff claimed he could buy blue chip stock and hedge them with options. He promised to pay investors more returns than what S&P 500 offered. This is what attracted most people to his business. What investors did not know is that Madoff was running a Ponzi scheme in disguise.

The fall of Madoff investments came during the 2008 financial crisis. Investors started requesting to withdraw more than US$7 billion. That’s when Madoff confessed to his son that his business was a big lie. He got arrested and pleaded to 11 federal crimes in 2009. He is currently serving 150 years in jail.

5. Steinhoff US$7.4 Billion Fraud

Steinhoff is a South African-based company that pulled a sensational fraud in recent history. The fraud had been going on for 8 years until PwC revealed it. The top clique at the business executive plus other influential individuals outside the company executed the fraud. What was going on in the company was overstated profits. That’s what tricked investors into putting more money in the business.

When auditing of the Steinhoff company was performed, PwC tracked fictitious transactions totalling US$7.4 billion from 2009 to 2017. The Chief Executive Markus Jooste resigned and denyed any wrongdoing but he would later get charged in Germany. Other high-ranking executives also exited the company. The shareholder value plummeted when the news of the fraud came out.

The Steinhoff US$7.4 billion fraud remains one of the largest scandals for a company in the business of selling goods. The company didn’t go into bankruptcy but has lost a lot of value in its shareholder value.

Business frauds have been here for centuries and are not going away even here in Australia. Just don’t be a victim. If they promise quick and big returns in a risk-free investment, it is probably a fraud. If you have to invest, put your money in a reputable company. If you have lost money to a fraud in Australia, you need a lawyer specialised in criminal law to help you recover your investment.

10 Retail Signage Tips to Drive Traffic to Your Store

10 Retail Signage Tips to Drive Traffic to Your Store

If you have invested in the retail sector, marketing remains one of the crucial success determinants. Poor marketing strategy results in low traffic to your store. This means your business sales potential will never be realised. One of the most effective ways of driving traffic to your store is getting attention-grabbing shop signage to attract potential buyers.

There are many ways that retail shop signage can drive traffic to your stores. That’s what we are going to look into in this article. We have put together tips on how a good sign in front of your store can help boost traffic to your business. This is what every retailer should know:

1. Attracts Attention

The best way to convert a potential customer to a buyer is by attracting their attention. When an individual is coming into the market, they already know what they want. What most may not have knowledge of is where to get the product. With so many retailers selling the same products, it’s up to you to find ways that get such customer’s attention. With a good shop front sign that is readable from a distance, you will convert more potential customers to buyers. However, the sign must convince the buyer that you can provide what they are looking for. That’s how they develop the confidence to buy from you.

2. Branding

Branding is one the most important part of business marketing. You need to work on ways to let people know about your business and what you offer. The name of your business should be what people are talking about for the brand to grow. The good thing about positive branding is that your business is associated with a positive experience. One of the ways you can enhance the brand of your retail business is using signage. With a positive brand reputation, the traffic to your retail shop will increase organically.

3. Better Visibility

Most business people don’t know how much visibility can affect traffic to the stores. Most potential buyers coming into the market do not have a store in mind where they can buy. They just come into the market to look for the store where they can get the products they want. The store they see and get impressed with is where they buy. With proper use of signage, business visibility is greatly improved. Potential buyers looking for a shop to buy will come to your store if you are more visible than the competition. That’s how signs drive traffic.

4. Announcement

Announcements are another way retail signs drive traffic to your store. You should not always use signs for the name of the business, but you can make announcements. I’m sure you must have come across posters on the highways announcing things like the grand opening of certain stores. In such cases, they offer enticing offers to attract potential buyers. What announcements do is increasing the traffic to the store. With these offers to save some money, announcements work by grabbing the attention of potential buyers. That’s how signage can help increase traffic to your retail store.

5. Special Occasions

football fans happily watching the match in the bar

You can use signs to benefit from special events happening near you. If there is a football match between some of the town’s biggest rival clubs, you can use signs to benefit from the derby. Such occasions usually bring a lot of people, and you can convert most of them to customers. What you need is to create eye-catching signage with enticing deals to attract more people into your store. If you sell pizza, give a small discount for the event. That is one smart way retail signs drive traffic to your shop.

6. Outdoor Advertisement

Outdoor advertisement is all about working on a kind of outreach marketing. This is where you move from placing signs at the front of the shop to a wide market. The idea is to help reach out to more people who may not access your business location. This is where placing signs on the buses’ sides or using billboards can be effective. You can also place the signs on light poles and other areas that will work for your outreach marketing programs. These efforts will see a huge traffic increase to your store.

7. Promotions

Another way that retail signs can drive traffic to your store is through promotion. Most people would be willing to buy more from shops that are offering promotions and discounts. If they can save something small from the current market pricing, they will flock into your shop of discounted prices. Signs can do a lot when it comes to promotions. You can use a wide range of signs for promotion purposes. If the offers are too good, your business will experience an increase in traffic.

8. Improved Competitiveness

Did you know that proper usage of retail signage could help up your competitiveness in the market? Well, that is true. Putting signs in front of the shop and doing outdoor advertisement and promotion will improve your competitiveness. You will be exposing your business to a larger market, and this means the chances of getting new customers are high. This means the amount of traffic to the business is likely to increase with the improved competitiveness.

9. Directional/Location

woman in the city checking her location through phone apps and map

Did you know that your retail shop could be having a good reputation in the market, but potential customers have no idea where to find you? Well, this happens a lot, especially when the reputation of the business is growing organically. That’s the reason why directional signage is very crucial in business marketing. You will direct customers who would want to buy from you but don’t know where to find you. With that, more potential customers will be coming to your retail store. That is how directional signs drive traffic to your store.

10. Offline-Online Connection

Most people are now buying online. That’s why even giant stores like Walmart are opening online stores to sell their products. There is a huge online market only, but your retail store can only benefit from it if buyers know where to find you. With your signage, you can have your online details such as Facebook name and website URL on the signage. This will drive more traffic to your store.

There are many ways that business signage can drive traffic to your shop. You just need to understand what your business needs. It is also recommended that you work with a signage expert for professional services.

Home Hints: What to Do if Your Garage Door Breaks

If something has gone wrong with your garage door, it will need immediate repair. Take these four simple steps to make sure you can get through this inconvenience with as
little headache as possible.

Check Simple Things First

If it’s simply a situation where your door won’t open, there could be an easy fix. But be careful not to break anything further, people often think garage repair can be done easily but end up costing themselves more by damaging the door further.

First, check the batteries in your opener. If you don’t have a spare, go inside and try the wall-mounted button. If that works, you probably just need a battery, or you may need to reprogram your remote. Make sure the release cord has not been inadvertently pulled. This will allow the opener to run without moving the door. “Kids often find it great fun to pull these cords, not knowing what they do. The release might also snag on your vehicle as you pull in.” says Jeff our local Garage Repair guru. “Check the opener’s power source. The cord may have fallen loose from the outlet, or there could be a tripped breaker.” Garages often have a fuse that can get tripped and may be on the same circuit with the opener, leaving them inoperative.

a garage door repairmanCall for Service

Once you see it’s not a quick fix, the first thing you should do is to contact someone for a repair. The sooner you do it, the sooner someone can get to you. Make sure you let them know the exact nature of the breakdown: what happened, what you were doing, and anything you did to try to stabilize the situation. Tell them what you see that’s broken, such as the track, spring, panels, or windows. This can help the repair team arrive with more of what they’ll need and give them a head start on ordering additional items. Ensure you give good directions to your home and make plans to have someone meet the repairman there when they arrive.

Secure Your Home

If your door is stuck in the open position, you may need to take steps to secure your home until someone can arrive. If the door is only open a few inches, there won’t be a problem. However, a wider space could be enough to allow an intruder into your house. If the door is stuck in the open position, you may need to keep someone at the house until repairs are made. You may be able to cover the opening with boards. Just don’t place your hands or any materials under the jammed door. If you cannot avoid leaving some exposed opening, secure the inside of the garage. Lock the door into the house and remove the keys from any other vehicles in the garage. If you have a second garage door, latch and lock it so that thieves can’t open it for quick removal of contents.

Don’t Try to DIY

There are a lot of things we can do for ourselves around the house. It’s a great way to save money and get the satisfaction of being self-sufficient. However, garage doors are a very different situation. Do not work on the door yourself. The doors are very heavy and can cause serious injuries or even death if they fall. Folding sections and wheels moving in their tracks can easily injure fingers, hands, and feet.

Perhaps most dangerous of all is the large tension spring above the door. Never attempt to handle a problem with the spring. It takes our special tools and training to work safely with a garage door spring. A broken garage door is a big inconvenience. If yours needs repair, give a professional handyman a call so that they can get the door back to normal as quickly as possible.

What Licences Are Required for Plumbers in Queensland?

What Licences Are Required for Plumbers in Queensland?

Are you thinking of becoming a plumber? Before embarking on that exciting career path, here are some important things to know about certifications needed and where to apply, apprenticeships, licences and training requirements.

 

Certificates

Firstly a Certificate III in Plumbing is required to be able to apply for a plumbing and drainage licence. There is also an entry-level course to obtain a Certificate II in Plumbing, which will give you useful foundation skills and an advantage in gaining a plumbing apprenticeship.

The Certificate III in Plumbing can be achieved as part of your apprenticeship or at a trade institution. It usually takes around two years to complete plumbing training at a trade institution; however, it can take between two and five years to complete an apprenticeship, depending on the program.

There are also a range of tickets or licences you can undetake once you are fully qualified plumber. The most common one which is given as an introduction within your apprenticeship is gas plumbing. There are a few different types of gas certificates you can complete depending on the work you wish to undertake. A good way to get an idea on what certificate you need when it comes to gas fitting is to do some work experience with a certified gas fitting company in your local area. They will be able to show you what type of daily tasks you are expected to undertake, as well as advise on correct licencing once you are ready to be certified.

There are many online resources to help you find the right place of study, but here are a few reliable websites for information about the application and available courses:

https://www.cqu.edu.au/courses/study-areas/engineering-trades/certificate-iii/certificate-iii-in-plumbing

http://www.qtis.training.qld.gov.au/Qualification/Details?modelCode=CPC32413&version=0&trainingCatalogNumber=21461

https://tafeqld.edu.au/courses/17748/certificate-iii-in-plumbing 

Plumbing

In addition to this, a Certificate IV in Plumbing and Services may be required if you are looking to become an advanced specialist, an experienced plumbing services operator responsible for project design and supervision, or a plumbing business manager. Once completed, you would then be eligible to apply for an advanced licence as a Plumbing and Drainage Contractor / Nominee Supervisor.

Please visit this website for more information and application: https://tafeqld.edu.au/courses/17751/certificate-iv-in-plumbing-and-services 

 

Apprenticeships

There are many places in which you can undertake a plumbing apprenticeship in Queensland and it is up to you to find the right employer. A very useful place to visit is the Queensland Government website for detailed information on your options, apprenticeships and the best avenues for seeking employment. Please visit https://desbt.qld.gov.au/training/apprentices/about for further information.

 

About Apprenticeships

 

  • An apprenticeship can be part-time, full-time or school-based, where some of the training can be completed while you are still in high school.
  • An apprenticeship combines work with structured training.
  • If you choose to be employed as an apprentice, your employer will work with a training organisation and yourself to set a suitable training plan.
  • An apprenticeship can be undertaken by existing employees.
  • Apprenticeships require the apprentice and the employer to enter into a legally binding contract which states that you must work and train together for an agreed length of time.
  • Training options must be negotiated and outlined in the training plan. Some aspects of training may be open to negotiation and include selection, content and sequencing of competency units, timing; location, mode of delivery and trainer or facilitator.

 

plumber

Full or Part-time Apprenticeships

  • Full-time apprentices have on-going employment and work and train for around 38 hours per week.
  • Part-time apprentices are required to regularly work and train for no less than 15 hours per week.
  • The nominal term of a part-time apprenticeship is usually double that of a full-time apprenticeship.
  • Existing employees can choose to be employed as an apprentice on a part-time or full-time basis.

 

School-based Apprenticeships

  • School-based apprentices usually undertake an apprenticeship as part of their year 10, 11 and 12 high school studies.
  • The nominal term of a school-based apprenticeship is usually double that of a full-time apprenticeship.
  • A school-based apprentice’s employment and/or training plan must impact on their school timetable for the apprenticeship to be considered school-based.

 

Licences

Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) is responsible for the regulation of all aspects regarding compliance, disciplinary functions and plumbing licensing in Queensland. Plumbing and drainage are the two different plumbing categories.

The three plumbing license classes are as follows:

  • Provisional Plumbers Licence – You can apply for this license once you have completed a plumbing apprenticeship.
  • Occupational / Open Licence – You can apply for this licence once you have completed a minimum of one year in the job on a provisional license.
  • Plumbing and Drainage Contractor / Nominee Supervisor – You can apply for this licence once you have completed the Certificate IV in Plumbing and Services and are able to meet the associated financial requirements.

 

Training Requirements

Plumber

In order to meet the QBCC requirements for applying for a Queensland Plumbing or Drainage Licence you must have already completed:

  • Certificate III in Plumbing (CPC32413) or Certificate III in Plumbing (Mechanical Services), including a sanitary stream.
  • Certificate III in Plumbing (CPC32513).
  • Certificate IV in Plumbing Services (CPC40912) may also be required if you are eligible to apply for the Plumbing and Drainage Contractor / Nominee Supervisor licence. This consists of the following units of competency:
  • Carry Out Work-Based Risk Control Processes (CPCPM4011A).
  • Design and Size Sanitary Plumbing Systems (CPCPSN4011B).
  • Design and Size Sanitary Drainage Systems (CPCPDR4011B).
  • Design and Size Heated or Cold Water Services and Systems (CPCPWT4011B).
  • Design and Size Domestic Treatment Plant Disposal Systems (CPCPDR4013B).
  • Estimate and Cost Work (CPCPCM4012A).
  • Establish Legal Risk Management Requirements Of Small Business (BSBSMB401).

Please visit the QBCC website for licence application and further information on licences: http://www.qbcc.qld.gov.au/contractors/apply-licence/apply-plumbing-drainage-licence

What Licences are Required for Property Managers?

So, you’d like to begin a career as a property manager?

Being a property manager means acting as a third party who is hired by a landlord or property investor to manage the day-to-day operations at a rental property. Without the work and support of a residential property manager, the industry would fall flat. Vital in making sure a property holds or increases its value, their responsibilities are hugely varied, depending on the agency.

Responsibilities of a Property Manager include (but certainly aren’t limited to):

Dealing with tenants

Working as the communicator between the owner of the property and the tenants, the property manager will deal with all tenant-related issues, acting as a representative for the landlord.

Owner communication

Meaning keeping the owner informed of vacancy rates, business policies, legal issues and any maintenance and repairs that are needed on their property.

Maintenance

In charge of keeping the property in respectable condition as well as the surrounding grounds. The essential duties can include dealing with repairs, breakages and the general maintenance of the grounds, entrances, and gardens.

To be a good property manager you need to:

  • Be a people person
  • Be comfortable on the phone
  • Enjoy solving problems
  • Be excellent at managing expectations
  • Be empathetic and caring
  • Be a good listener

Do you tick all those boxes? Great! Let’s talk about how one becomes a property manager in Queensland.

You must earn a qualification before you can become registered to work as a property manager in Queensland. At the end of the article, we’ll list a collection of schools one can attend to obtain the necessary qualifications.

There are multiple qualifications for you to choose depending on your ultimate goal.

property management career

If you are only wanting to work as a Property Manager for an already existing property management agency then you can obtain the Real Estate Property Manager or Salesperson Registration Certificate. We spoke with James from an Airbnb management compnay in Brisbane – Breezybnb. He said that there has been an influx of people looking to get into the space thanks to the sharing economy platforms like Airbnb. “Airbnb has made traditional property management evolve from just real estate to a hospitality service.” He believes that if traditional letting agents don’t embrace the change, a large number of their premium properties will be lost.

“Airbnb has made traditional property management evolve from just real estate managers to a hospitality service.”

If you’re wanting to start your own Property Management Agency or Real Estate Agency then you can study for the Real Estate Agent Licence Course.

If your goal is managing an entire residential building then you can earn a Resident Letting Agent Course.

Once you’ve achieved the relevant qualification, the next step is to apply to the Office of Fair Trading (Queensland) for your registration to work in the industry. This is done in five simple steps:

  1. Visit the OFT site to confirm you meet the eligibility for the application.
  2. Fill in the OFT Registration or Licence Application Form
  3. Attach to your Application Form a copy of your course Statement of Attainment from wherever you gained the qualification from
  4. Attach formal identification (this can be a QLD drivers licence or birth certificate)
  5. Attach payment of your registration or your licence fees

And that’s that! Once your application has been sent it can take between four and six weeks for the OFT to process your application. Once successfully processed, you are now registered as a Queensland property manager!

So, now what?

Well, now you’re ready to begin your real estate career! Most, if not all property managers have some experience as real estate agents. However, this is not always the case. And if you’re applying for a property manager position then you can make clear that property management has always been your goal, not property sales or letting!

What you will have going for you is due to the large apartment boom across Queensland (and Brisbane in particular) – trusted property managers are now in massive demand, with a serious shortage within the property industry. 2019, as it turns out is a great time to start your career!

Like all job opportunities, the onus is on you not to just sit back and wait for a job opportunity to come to you, you need to be proactive. Identify the companies you would like to work for and approach them directly.

You can demonstrate the fantastic property management skills you have obtained via your course by calling prospective agencies, talking to them over the phone and email and going and seeing them in person!

Sounds like a career path you’d be interested in? Below we’ve listed the institutions in Queensland you need to attend to get the ball rolling:

Property Training Australia

Address: Multiple locations including Bundall, Bundaberg & Sunshine Coast

Validum Institute

Address: Level 1, Unit 9/385 Sherwood Rd, Rocklea QLD 4106, Australia

Australian School of Business and Law Pty Ltd

Address: 26 Excelsa St,  Sunnybank QLD 4109

Harcourts – The Academy

Address: 31 Amy Johnson Pl, Eagle Farm QLD 4009, Australia

Macdonald Education

Address: Level 4  138 Albert Street Brisbane QLD 4000

National Institute of Education and Technology

Address: 8 Clunies Ross Ct, Eight Mile Plains QLD 4113, Australia

Newton College

Address: 98 Cleveland St, Greenslopes QLD 4120, Australia