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PROJECT: BUSINESS SABOTAGE

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A recent study has shown that increasingly more South African companies experience business sabotage at least once every 24 months.


How is Business Sabotage Defined? Business sabotage occurs when an individual commits a specific act of harm to a company. On hearing the term "business sabotage", one might be inclined to think of it as an act committed by someone from outside the business, like a competitor. However, in most cases, acts of business sabotage are initiated by employees from within a business.

 

EXAMPLES:

  • Violation of nondisclosure or noncompete agreements.

  • Tampering with business deals or business relationships.

  • Redirecting funds from individuals or the business for personal use.

  • Stealing business opportunities for themselves or another business.

  • Committing criminal acts that harm the company’s reputation.

  • Stealing or misusing the company’s intellectual property.

  • Colluding with fellow employees to leave the business and start a similar venture, while intentionally neglecting key responsibilities entrusted to them by their employer.


 

DIFFERENT TYPES OF BUSINESS SABOTAGE:

  • One of the things that makes business sabotage so difficult to deal with is the fact that it can take many different forms.

  • Often, it is difficult for business owners to be certain that sabotage is occurring as it embodies many different things:


 

SABOTAGE IN THE BUSINESS WORLD CAN BE:

  • Fraud.

  • Embezzlement.

  • Release of corporate secrets.

  • Release of trade secrets.

  • Espionage.

  • Intentional negative influencing of fellow employees.

  • Intentional gross negligence.

 

The most common form of sabotage within a business operation is called employee sabotage.


There are several ways in which an employee can quietly undermine and damage your business from within, and each can happen over an extended period of time before anything untoward is noticed.


TIME THEFT:

  • Any kind of theft by an employee could be construed as an act of sabotage in that it directly impacts the bottom line of the business, but time theft is a particular issue, as its impact can be wide-ranging, and depends entirely on the motivation of the employee in question.

  • The most obvious and, perhaps, common, is the employee who is persistently or regularly absent owing to illness.

  • This means they are claiming the benefits of Sick Pay while not actually contributing to the business.

  • The fact that the employee is not doing their part for the team means that the team is unable to operate at optimal efficiency.

  • Time theft – including "faked" sick days – becomes more insidious when the employee is using the time to actively damage your business.

  • This may be through dealings with a competitor, or through "moonlighting."

  • This means you are essentially paying your employees to make money elsewhere.


ASSET MISUSE:

  • The term "business assets" covers a broad range of items – from vehicles and property to consumable resources and office equipment.

  • Every type of business asset is vulnerable to misuse by employees and may amount to employee sabotage if the damage to the business accumulates and causes lasting repercussions.

  • For example, an employee using a company vehicle to serve their own, personal purposes, costs your business money and causes reputational damage if the vehicle is branded and identifiable as belonging to your company.

  • An employee using a company computer or email account to access the internet for personal purposes can leave your business network vulnerable to cybercrime causing significant disruption to your operation, and potential costly damage to both your systems and reputation.

  • Most notably, this can damage relationships with both your customers and suppliers which may take years to rectify.


CORPORATE ESPIONAGE:

  • Sometimes referred to as industrial espionage, corporate spying, or economic espionage, corporate espionage is a potentially devastating form of employee sabotage.

  • It generally occurs when a competitor seeks to secure commercially confidential information about your business for the purpose of undermining your operation.

  • There are instances where this type of information gathering is relatively innocuous, where a competitor deploys "secret shoppers" to gain insight into your business, for example.

  • Corporate information gathering becomes employee sabotage in the following circumstances:

  • A competitor enlists one of your existing employees to gather commercially sensitive information, or trade secrets, and pass it on to them.

  • A competitor "plants" personnel inside your operation using your own recruitment processes.

  • An employee steals trade secrets and sells them to the highest bidder.

  • An employee steals trade secrets and releases them publicly. 

  • Apart from a competitor planting personnel inside your operation, each of these instances is likely to be caused by an employee being disgruntled – either by harbouring a sense of injustice about the way something has been handled internally, or by a personal issue with members of the business management team.

  • Whichever of these causes applies the consequences are the same.

  • Profits will be negatively impacted by a competitor having access to the operational information behind the products, services, and intellectual properties of your business, as will your overall position in the marketplace.

  • Your operation will undoubtedly be disrupted as you try to uncover the cause of the problem and deal with the workforce issues arising from the situation which, in turn, will impact customer and supplier relationships.

  • If details of your customers or suppliers are compromised – as is likely in acts of corporate espionage – then the reputational damage suffered by your business can be catastrophic.

 

SSS Specialist Investigators can help with employee sabotage situations.


COMBATTING BUSINESS SABOTAGE:


Background checks:

  • If you engage our services to conduct background checks on new recruits, you may reduce the chances of a competitor “planting” a saboteur inside your business.

  • Similarly, if you suspect an existing employee of sabotage, then a background check can reveal corroborating evidence – such as unusual financial activity, or associations that represent a conflict of interest.


Electronic surveillance:

  • As the owner and operator of your business computer network, you can authorise comprehensive electronic surveillance that is legal and ethical, to monitor all digital activity within your business.

  • This includes telephone records, video and audio recordings, and email communications.

  • The tracking of company vehicles is also possible with electronic surveillance, giving you the opportunity to uncover misuse of your business assets, as well as corporate espionage.


Counter-surveillance:

  • If you suspect that your premises are being surveyed – either electronically or manually, then we can launch a counter-surveillance operation.

  • This will reveal any recording or tracking equipment that has been secretly installed, as well as identify any background cyber hacks or breaches that have either occurred or are in progress.


Mobile surveillance:

  • If an employee is suspected of sabotage, a professional mobile surveillance operation may reveal clandestine meetings with competitors or instances of asset misuse.

  • Mobile surveillance operations track people through multiple modes of transportation, as well as through travels overseas.

 

SSS will record all findings and collate them into a comprehensive, detailed report that is fully supported by documentary evidence and is admissible in court.


It is our goal to provide you with everything you need to prove and pursue your case – either in a civil matter or prosecuted as a crime.


This can go a long way to ensuring that your trust in other employees remains unshaken by the actions of the culprit, which means your business can get back on track.



 

CAN EMPLOYERS SUE FOR BUSINESS SABOTAGE?


  • While some offenses in the business world are justified as “accidental,” typically, acts of sabotage are intentional.

  • In addition, some acts of sabotage are pre-meditated as well.

  • Unfortunately, employees, fuelled by greed, anger, or ego, sometimes choose to sabotage their employers.

  • When employees sabotage a business, it is often for their gain.

  • What can the employer do when faced with these actions?

  • When employers are certain that sabotage has occurred, they should consider taking legal action.

  • Sabotage compromises the company itself and may damage relationships, profits, and the entire business venture.



 

WHEN EMPLOYEES COMMIT SABOTAGE INTENTIONALLY AND THEY ARE CAUGHT, THEY CAN FACE THE FOLLOWING:


  • Criminal penalties, including arrest.

  • Civil liability.

 

Specialised Security Services invites the public to the Mike Bolhuis Daily Projects WhatsApp Group. This group is important in delivering insights into the latest crime trends, awareness, warnings and the exposure of criminals.


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Regards,

Mike Bolhuis

Specialist Investigators into

Serious Violent, Serious Economic Crimes & Serious Cybercrimes

PSIRA Reg. 1590364/421949

Mobile: +27 82 447 6116

Fax: 086 585 4924

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