Identity theft among small and medium-sized businesses is increasing across Canada and it has been dubbed the crime of the 21st century in government documents. Similar to identity theft against an individual, it involves a fraudster assuming the identity of a business and often stealing company assets, client lists and credit information or using a firm's identity to secure business or payments. The fraudster could be a third party, an employee, a competitor or even a supplier. The result is not just the financial damage, but often the company's reputation.
For fraud attorneys like Mathieu Piché-Messier, a Montreal lawyer and partner at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, helping clients resolve identity theft is a growing part of his business, particularly in the past two years. If a company's identity is stolen, his firm helps the business mitigate losses, including recovering assets.
Last year, for example, a small business owner client received a phone call pointing out he had not paid the electricity bill for one of his office buildings. The client discovered he never received the bill because the building had been sold without his knowledge. A fraudster had falsified the company minutes, made himself the new CEO and sold the building to an accomplice, walking off with the proceeds of the sale.
Mr. Piché-Messier's firm was able stop the sale because it was contacted immediately.
The firm began legal proceedings and called its contacts at the commercial fraud division of the Montreal police.
Earlier, Mr. Piché-Messier took your questions on how small companies can mitigate losses.
Mathieu Piché-Messier was admitted to the Québec Bar in 1998 and is a graduate of the University of Sherbrooke Law School. His expertise in civil and commercial litigation is varied with a particular focus on commercial fraud, high technology, industrial espionage, entertainment, respect of intellectual property rights and real estate litigation. Mr. Piché-Messier has worked on the preparation and enforcement of trials, seizures, injunctions and Anton Piller orders, as representative of the plaintiff and as independent senior lawyer for several Canadian law firms, in civil and commercial law, and particularly in commercial fraud and privacy, high technology, industrial espionage, intellectual property and commercial leases matters.