- Do thorough reference checks on all parties that the corporation is engaging, including the manager. Relying on personal impressions is risky. Fraudsters are frequently masters at schmoozing their victims.
- Beware of bids that are substantially lower than the others. As the old adage goes “If it sounds too good to be true it probably is”. This applies not only to the management contract itself, but to all contracts for services.
- The management contract should obligate the manager to obtain a fidelity bond that will protect the corporation from any fraudulent act or omissions of the manager or the manager’s employees. Ensure that the bond is renewed annually and a certificate from the bonding company is delivered to the board members annually. The bond should not be cancellable by either the manager or the bond insurer unless prior notice of cancellation is given to all board members (not in care of the manager). As for who is responsible for the premium costs to pay for the bond that is a matter to be negotiated with the manager.
- The management contract should prohibit the manager from engaging related companies to provide goods or services to the corporation.
- The condo corporation should not give the manager sole authority to sign cheques. At a minimum all cheques should be signed by one board member along with the manager.
- Board members need to be vigilant. Some frauds are conducted over a lengthy course of time. In order to avoid detection the fraudster needs to be constantly monitoring things and taking steps to cover up the fraud. Employees engaged in fraudulent activities are reluctant to take vacation time for fear that the fraud will be exposed during their absence. Management employees who do not take any vacation time or who seem to have an excessively lavish lifestyle should raise red flags.
In view of how the manager in the reported story was able to fraudulently borrow money in the corporation’s name, perhaps corporations should consider instructing their legal counsel to conduct periodic and/or random title searches. Of course the manager cannot be privy to any information as to when and how often these searches are being conducted.
While the above measures may not completely stop a determined and clever fraudster who is willing to engage in forgery, hopefully they will make it more difficult for a fraud to be committed.