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So You Think Your Business Partner is Scamming You?

May 14, 2014 by Ed Becker

If you suspect that your business partner is cheating you, then there is a good possibility that they are. Feeling that there is a reason not to trust your partner is a pretty big red flag and can indicate that something is amiss. It can be a delicate situation, especially if you are friends or have other relations with them. Depending on the relationship, the communication levels, and your partner’s attitude, a confrontation may or may not be the optimal option.

Taking a step back and using some investigative measures can really help you see the bigger picture. There are a few initial things to look for to see if your suspicions are justified.

1. A sense of entitlement in your partner. Do they act like it is up to you to do all the work and they get most of the credit?

2. A lack of empathy for others. Does your partner treat people like they only matter when it benefits them?

3. No conscience or guilt, never learns from mistakes, no accountability but plenty of excuses. Someone who never really apologizes, they turn into something that makes you feel as if it was your fault or blame anyone else but themselves.

4. Patterns of self-destructiveness. The means always justify the end, as long as it is in their favor. But then when everything crumbles it is not their fault. And this happens again and again.

5. Constant drama. Everyone gets involved in drama at different points in their lives. But manipulators love drama. They thrive on it and create it to survive. Signs of this can be angry temper tantrums that destroy everything in their path.

6. No long-term relationships. Do you know your partner’s background? Is there a pattern of failures, or no lasting relationships?

7. Fantasy vs. Reality. Some people really do live in a fantasy world created in their minds. Some are so immersed that they could pass a lie detector test because they truly believe the fantasy they created. Anything or anyone that tries to bring a reality check is ignored or quickly driven away.

8. Pride in their “scams”. No one is perfect, everyone at one time or another has beefed up their resumes, were not totally honest on taxes, etc. But normal people worry about those things and do not tell anyone what they did. Scammers believe that it is a success if they got away with it and will proudly brag about it. Liars and cheaters like that will lie and/or cheat anyone, even their partners.

9. New behaviors. If records and communication were always transparent but now your partner is limiting your access to certain things, it is time to worry.

10. Making you feel guilty. Placing blame on you for things that are out of your control or accusing you of not working hard enough.

If you are seeing more than one of these behaviors or attitudes and you have a feeling that something is not right, then you need to take action before you become another victim. If you have any kind of proof you should confront your partner. This is not usually a productive option, as the partner is going to deny it or give you some phony explanation. They might also try to turn it around to make you feel guilty as if you did something wrong.

Your best option is to seek out an accountant that is unbiased to review your books.  Talk to a shareholder dispute attorney to see what your legal options and obligations are in all scenarios. Then you can decide what course of action is best for you and the business.

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