It‚Äôs been in the news multiple times in the past several years: criminals who appoint themselves as business administrator or board member by way of a fraudulent publication in the Belgian public records (‚Äėstaatsblad‚Äô).¬† This type of crime is called ‘staatsblad fraud’,¬†herein after referred to as public records fraud.

The idea is to use the fraudulent publication to make purchases and/or otherwise withdraw from the financial accounts of the unsuspecting business.  Unfortunately, this is a very simple form of fraud which can easily result in huge financial harm.

Public records fraud

The fraudsters use the downloadable publication forms from the website to name themselves as administrator or board member of an unsuspecting company.  They then pay the relatively low publication fee and have the form publicized.  This is unfortunately quite easy to do.

After the appointment has been publicized in the public records, the fraudster’s real work begins.  Using the publication, he/she tries to gain access to the company’s bank accounts to make purchases (such as the acquisition of a personal vehicle), or to otherwise withdraw money from the account.

If the seller or banker is not sufficiently critical or careful, then the financial harm to the company is at that point unpreventable.

No automatic pro-active updates or control

Up until now there has been no accessible pro-active measure to control the accuracy of the publications.  This means that anyone could technically put together a form and have it publicized, and this for any random company.  To further contribute to the issue, companies remain unaware of the publication as they do not receive any kind of notification.

Due to the lack of effective control, companies have no way of timely knowing of these fraudulent publications.

This, until recently.

Protection by registration

Considering the absence of a protective law, three parties from the private sector put their heads together to maximize protection, with support of the Belgian reporting authority (‚ÄėStaatsblad‚Äô).

Companies can register free of charge at wettelijke-publicaties.be  (translated: legal publications) by submitting their KBO-number, name, address and email address.  Anytime a new publication appears in the public records, they are immediately notified.  Companies receive confirmation of all publications, along with as a pdf version of the publicized form(s).  In the event a fraudulent publication was issued, the company can have the publication removed, inform the appropriate financial institutions and seek criminal punishment of the wrongdoers.

This registration system offers a simple solution to help companies prevent unwelcome purchases and withdrawals and at the same time, discourage wrongdoers.

We would stronly encourage you to take a few minutes to register, it may save you quite the nightmare (and money) in the future.