Global Lingo pops fraud bubble

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IT was an act of cunning that might have outfoxed Sherlock Holmes.

Fans of Chinese pop music have foiled a gang of fraudsters who believed they could rip off a major bank.

In these hard times, unscrupulous employees are finding new ways of tricking their bosses. Leeds-based Global Lingo has protected a bank from a plot concocted by some of its Chinese staff, who used a code derived from the lyrics of Chinese pop songs in an attempt to confuse their superiors.

Global Lingo, which also provided interpreters for the investigation into the death of Jean Charles de Menezes, was called in to help the bank, which cannot be named for reasons of commercial confidentiality, after bosses suspected that a fraud was taking place in China.

Richard Michie, the company’s director of market and operations, said: “The client uncovered some internal emails which seemed to show fraud internally.

“Chinese ex-pats working in the UK office couldn’t make head or tail of it. The investigation came to a halt at that point. Another translation was then done by translators in China and it was discovered that some of the emails contained Chinese pop songs as part of a code.

“Once that code was spotted, the investigation developed because the potential fraud was uncovered.

“Chinese translators who had been in the UK for a time, wouldn’t have known the pop songs that were involved in this kind of fraud. That’s where the specialist skills really come to the fore.

“We always use ‘in-country’ translators, so that the local terms and colloquialisms are understood.”

Global Lingo provided the Brazilian and Portuguese interpreting services for the inquiry into the death of Mr de Menezes, who was shot dead by counter-terrorist officers who mistook him for a wanted suicide bomber.

The shooting at Stockwell Tube station in London in July 2005 led to a series of wide-ranging inquiries into police tactics.

Global Lingo, which was founded in 2006, has seen soaring demand for the transcription side of the business, as disgruntled bank staff try to increase their wages and bonuses.

The company’s turnover last year was £985,000, and projected group turnover, including the new Singapore operation, for this year is £2.6m.

The company’s HR and employee relations transcription team has attended more than 500 disciplinary and grievance hearings over the past six months.

Mr Michie said: “With the world financial crisis, there are a lot of people querying big bonus cheques or they have internal grievances about sales and targets. We work with a lot of the major banks based in London and this is where the majority of the issues have come from.”

A Leeds-based employment lawyer, who asked not to be named, confirmed that the financial services sector had seen a rise in grievances related to sales and performance targets.

The lawyer added: “Many organisations have made only minimum increases to basic salary over the last couple of years, and the amount of potential bonus has been reduced, so employees are willing to challenge sales and performance targets to try and boost their bonus income.

“The financial sector is under greater pressure to reduce its costs. Therefore, where absence, capability and conduct issues may have been tolerated in the past, companies are keen to implement their internal procedures more quickly and dismiss employees where the circumstances warrant it.”

Global Lingo employs eight full time staff in Leeds, and is in the process of hiring two more.

Four staff have been taken on at its Singapore office, which opened last month, and Global Lingo has 4,500 freelances around the world.

Disaster-zone success

WHEN an earthquake hit Haiti last year, killing more than 200,000 people, Global Lingo was on hand to find translators who understood the local language – Haitian Creole.

According to Richard Michie of Global Lingo, the company provided interpreting services for doctors and journalists who had flown into Haiti in response to the crisis.

He added: “We’re always sourcing new suppliers. Sometimes it’s a case of using your initiative and going out and finding them. In parts of Africa, you might for example, have five million people who speak a language, but there will be a finite number of people who are qualified to deliver a translation and interpretation service.”