Many of us think about crimes in a personalized way. Crimes are unexpected, painful, and often feature an identifiable human perpetrator and an identifiable human victim. But the crimes we most often experience in finance are much more impersonal. They are the seemingly minor transgressions by one person directed at an entity, which makes it seem victimless. “It’s OK,” the thinking goes, “it’s a small thing that will be lost in the shuffle.” Add to it that the crime is committed against a bank (in our case) and one can conjure up thoughts of Robin Hood stealing from the big, bad bankers and distributing those ill-gotten gains more widely.
We like to think of ourselves as the good guys in finance and we work hard to find and partner with the good guys in home improvement contracting. For the most part, we’re successful, but every now and then we discover a bad apple in our midst. Recently, one of our contractors forged some loan documents. This is something we typically catch up front, but in this case the forgery was discovered by the borrower after the loan was on the books and the funds in the contractor’s hands. One of our goals is to maintain productive relationships with our contractors, so we always do our research before we act. The borrower’s attorney provided us with documentation that led to only one conclusion. When we confronted the contractor, we were advised to bug off. Maybe it wasn’t said as nicely as that.
The borrower, having actually received the improvements, was amenable to legitimizing the deal. In the end, the contractor received his funds, the borrower got a good deal on a loan, and we…well, we won’t make any money on this one. Just another victimless crime. We don’t work with that contractor anymore, needless to say.
Sometimes the bad apple is an employee within a generally good organization. It may be a finance manager trying to slide some faulty documentation past us or a rogue salesperson getting creative with the income on the credit application. While any issues often result only in lost time and headaches, we still prefer to avoid them entirely.
Ultimately, stories like these make us grateful for the contractors we work with who run disciplined organizations founded on integrity. We get to deal every day with good people doing good things. Those relationships have real value to us and, like any good thing, we’d like more of it!
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