Staffing Factoring Fraud: Using Tax Guard to Mitigate Risks Published November 5, 2012

It’s Halloween season and we’re hearing about a fresh scandal in the staffing industry that is all trick and no treat for factors. Start with the owners of a Rochester, NY staffing agency. Add a stack of invoices sold to commercial factors to the tune of $600,000. Now add the active ingredient: the fabricated timesheets and payroll records on which these invoices were based. Season with 12 indictments handed down by a federal grand jury last week and you have yourself a recipe for a Factor’s Worst Nightmare.

If you are a factor working with clients in the staffing industry, it’s worth asking, could this happen to you? Unfortunately, just as a solid staffing agency can be a great revenue stream for a factor, staffing is an industry that creates a specific set of worries for a factor.

Our experience at Tax Guard indicates that noncompliance with federal tax obligations is quite common among staffing agencies. Purchasing receivables from a staffing agency presents a risk that really flies in the face of other ordinary due diligence measures you factors may rely upon to fund a client. Relying upon the historical relationship with that client can lull a factor to sleep. A staffing agency that has already established this credibility is in a position to sell a factor a phony invoice, especially when the business is growing and the amounts invoiced increase.

In one example, Tax Guard’s reporting helped a factor determine that a staffing client’s receivables were bogus. Tax Guard’s report indicated the business was steadily making federal tax deposits of approximately $10,000 per quarter. However, the receivables were increasing on a monthly basis and the most recent figures were several thousand dollars per month.

The main expense for a staffing company, by far, is payroll. As the receivables were increasing, the federal tax deposits should have been increasing as well – but they weren’t. After reviewing some potential explanations with Tax Guard (for example, the factor could have been leasing its employees or using a PEO), the factor followed up with the client. It soon became apparent that there was no explanation for the discrepancy and the invoices were indeed fraudulent.

Tax Guard’s real-time access to tax deposit records enables tax risk management on an invoice-by-invoice basis, activating a line of secondary questioning in such high-risk situations. This is another unique Tax Guard advantage helping factors ensure that the nightmare of funding on fraudulent invoices is one in which they never find themselves.

Posted By: Jason Peckham

As Vice President of Resolutions for Tax Guard, Jason is responsible for the tax resolution division of the company with an emphasis on preserving the funding relationships between commercial lenders and borrowers. Jason has spent the past 15 years as an attorney working directly with businesses resolving collection matters with the federal and state taxing authorities. As a regular contributor to industry journals and speaker on issues regarding IRS collection matters for commercial lenders, his expertise is highly sought out by lenders nationwide.