Khumo Motsisi

MAINTAINING AN EAGLE EYE

STOPPING FRAUD BEFORE IT HAPPENS

Khumo Motsisi, Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Approx. reading time: 2 minutes

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Khumo Motsisi heads up the biz.Clarency department in charge of implementing our stringent AML/ATF operations. Here she shares a recent blip from her busy radar screen.

One of the advantages of putting so much automation in place is that it frees up more time to do things manually. That might be an unexpected consequence, but it's an important one. The biz.Clarency throws an alert if there's something unusual going on, but I enjoy watching the wheels spin, even when everything seems to be going smoothly.

And, just occasionally, I hear a squeak...

This happened a couple of weeks ago with two euro payments, both buying sugar. on consecutive days. On the first payment, standard diligence showed that both buyer and seller were part of the same UK company. That's not necessarily a problem, but it was enough to raise a small question mark. So when a second sugar transaction came through the following day, both the system and a pair of human eyes were watching. An alert came up that both invoices were associated to the same person, even though the company name was different. Once again, there could be legitimate reasons for this, but it was enough to warrant closer inspection.

The invoices were interesting! They were ostensibly from different companies, but were identical in format, right down to using the same font. And then a few mental alarm bells started to chime. For the sake of anonymity, let's call company one Acme Consulting. The second was Acme Trading. Unusual, I thought, for a consulting company to be buying sugar in bulk. But it could still be a completely legal transaction, so we don't want to delay it, let alone stop it altogether. Fortunately, one of the advantages of the biz.Clarency system is its speed. The invoice I was looking at carried today's date; I could get a request for further information out, and potentially still clear the transaction the same day.

To help us understand our bank client's customer's business, we asked our bank client to request a brochure. They did so immediately. Several days of silence ensued, and then we received an instruction to cancel the payment. This was blamed on a change in sugar prices. As our systems routinely check market prices, we knew this to be false. We reported fully back to the bank, which was able to react properly and block a potentially criminal organisation from succeeding.

It's a part of the job I love; knowing we've been able to prevent fraud, not just report on it after it's already happened, is incredibly satisfying. I'll share more of our detective work as cases like this crop up.

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