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30 Apr 2014

Biz Talk: Mad Crazy Money

It was back to the future at CX Roadshow when I did an encore performance of my Crazy Money seminars from 2012. They were very popular then, and again this summer, pitched at small businesses that are the backbone of entertainment. Almost every freelancer is a small business, and we had plenty from all walks attending across Australia.

Back in 2012 the pressing issue was the brand new PPSR (Personal Property Security Register) – the register where details of security interests in personal property can be registered and searched. It arrived at the start of 2012 with little fanfare.

This Roadshow I mostly skipped around the PPSR but a comrade in the front row somewhere told me her problem. The installation firm they run had registered all the equipment in job while under progress. As you should – you haven’t been paid in full, you need to retain title to the equipment.

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Problem for her was the entity they were contracting with was different to the entity on the PPSR. When the job fell over, the claim on the equipment failed. Which segued nicely with this years’ theme, which is ‘Who is Who; in the Fun Zoo?’

I started by advising the punters to carefully search any person or any firm they transact with. I showed them some journalist tricks to find the birth date of a person, and better search the company and the various ATO registers – free – for tell tale information.

For instance, if you search the ABN Lookup (Australian Business Name register) and find several versions of one person, be very wary. By way of example, I was researching a suspicious individual and discovered multiple Active and Cancelled ABN’s with versions of his name. First name, middle name, surname, then first and surname, then first name and two surnames and so on.

The perp noted above was later proven to be a bankrupt shyster with an amazing story and a way with words. Sounds like someone everyone knows in the entertainment biz, and none of that is a hanging offense. It is however a very good reason to operate on a ‘cleared funds in advance’ basis.

Many cases of non payment arose, natural in a Seminar based on rip-offs. While most people sought a deposit on confirmation from new clients, some then didn’t get paid on completion. A few people reported fake EFT emails prior to the show, and the funds not arriving. This is open and shut fraud which is easy for the police. Bouncing bank cheques are not a police matter however, and it is possible for a bank cheque to be cancelled after issue, on the pretext it was ‘lost’.

This year’s hottest topic was Preferential Payments (also known as Relation Back) where after being paid for work the client goes broke. Some time later, often months later, the clients liquidator sends a letter of demand requiring the payments received from the client be repaid forthwith. On first receiving such a letter, which is usually fairly violently phrased with threats of legal action and a deadline for payment, most people are incredulous, and race off to their lawyer for a $300 cup of tea.

The advice given is often foggy and qualified. Yes, it could be considered that the money you received from your client was indeed a preferential payment.

More on this a little later, here at cxmagblog!

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