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benmac

Contractor Misrepresenting Their Identity?

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Wondering if anyone has encountered this and looking for tips on how to address it. Myself and several counterparts from other offices across the agency are dealing with an individual contractor who we suspect is posing as numerous additional companies with numerous aliases. The agency had performance issues with the original company in the past, to the point where they were terminated for cause, and now it appears this individual is attempting to re-enter our marketplace using different company names and POC aliases. A couple observations we've made:

1. They are using numerous aliases, most are names of prominent/historical individuals in their region of the country.

2. None of the aliases will call any of us, they insist on email commo.

3. The aliases all write in a similar threatening tone, demanding to speak to our supervisors (to date they have not); stating they will file complaints with OIG (which they have), and generally follow the same script. They got their hands on various audit reports and demand we issue contracts for various services identifed in them.

4. All their email handles are generic gmail accounts. We tagged several responses with read receipts and they are returning confirmations they were read by the original terminated contractor. We suspect these are phony email accounts that forward to the original contractor.

5. Several of the companies are incorporated as "shells" - from the firm addressed in this article: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/28/us-usa-shell-companies-idUSTRE75R20Z20110628

6. Most of them are in SAM with valid DUNS.

7. The new companies dont have CPARS records.

8. The original company was deferred to SBA after a determination of non-responsibilty and SBA granted them the COC. We have not tried this with the new companies.

9. One of the new companies is soliciting competitors and encouraging them to write complaints about us and attempting they file protests (or joining him in a joint protest).

So bottom line we think there is one individual behind all the other companies and we are not interested in doing business with him/them. Several of our employees feel the communication has gotten personal to the point they are feeling harassed, but we are struggling on how to deal with him. We are engaging our legal counsel as well, but was curious if anyone else has dealt with this sort of thing and would be willing to share your advice.

Thanks.

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Unless the individual has been debarred or suspended, how can you avoid dealing with him, at least to the point of making a responsibility determination? Simply refusing to deal with him could be considered a constructive debarment.

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Why should you have to deal with them? Because "They got their hands on various audit reports and demand (you) issue contracts for various services identified in them"?

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Under the eval criteria we use for this type of service we have the ability to rate propsepective contractors as a "high performance dependability risk" and therefore not award. The original contractor has a poor performance record and has been evaluated as such, so its likely they would receive this rating again and not be considered for an award. Thus the reason they are approaching us with the various company names and aliases.

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Why should you have to deal with them? Because "They got their hands on various audit reports and demand (you) issue contracts for various services identified in them"?

These are all BPAs we put in place for future work and we have two options for acquiring these services: 1) for the high use services we issue solicitations which the companies/aliases quote on and we establish multiple BPAs and 2) we establish source lists for the low use, infrequent services, and establish POs if/when needed. So under #1 the aliases are providing quotes, which we suspect are from the original terminated contractor. Under #2 the same aliases are demanding we solicit via #1, making threats, harassing us, etc.

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No references to supply but a contractor in the course of Federal business does represent and certify. If the same is done under fraudulent purposes it sounds like a referral to the OIG to me.

Need more data to support referral? Get one of your IT specialists to check out IP addresses for all the email accounts. If the IP addresses are the same you might be on to something.

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It sounds like you are dealing with a crank. Most of us have had that kind of problem. Having said that, here are some thoughts:

First, it is not illegal for one person or firm to do business under different names. Be careful about using the term "fraud" if you're not an attorney who knows the law of fraud. The question is whether the various businesses are legally established under the applicable laws. If they are, then each is entitled to consideration for contract award, assuming that it is eligible and responsible in accordance with FAR Subpart 9.1.

Second, you cannot lawfully say "we are not interested in doing business with him/them." Unless suspended or debarred, each is entitled to compete and, if prospectively successful after lawful evaluation of its bid, proposal, or quote, you must determine its responsibility under FAR Subpart 9.1 on a case-by-case basis. You may evaluate their past performance and take "performance issues" (whatever that means) into appropriate consideration.

Don't let your feelings lead you into error. You must ignore the complaints. You're a government employee. Complaints come with the territory. Don't give them any substance. Be civil.

Remember--if you know what you are doing you can award a contract to anybody you want. You can also not award a contract to anybody you don't want. But you have to be smart about it. The harassment is likely to continue until the crank gets bored, is diverted, becomes senile, or dies.

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Vern - So being the one that mentioned fraud I pose this question based on the info posed by the OP and info the OP posted.

Multiple award BPA where the same individual uses separate companies to compete for the work. Should a CO be concerned about possible Sherman Act violations, yes or no? What if a multiple award IDIQ?

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The FAR does not mention the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 1 et seq., by name or citation. But if by "Sherman Act" you are referring to the rules in FAR Subpart 3.3 about reporting suspected antitrust violations, then yes, the CO should be "concerned" if he or she spots any of the things listed in 3.303( c ). But doing business under different names is not, in and of itself, fraud or an antitrust violagtion. Nothing described in the OP sounded like an antitrust violation. It sounded like the behavior of a pissed-off nutcase.

If a CO thinks that there may have been an antitrust violation, I assume that he or she would consult agency counsel before calling the Attorney General.

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Is the Governent too broke to hire legal counsel these days?

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Vern/Retread - thanks for suspended/debarred reminder, I was speaking from the heart not the head. I have no issue with the complaints, quite used to those too, but some of my peers are feeling attacked/harassed by this guy so trying to develop a strategy for stopping it.

Carl - thanks for the tip, we are going to look into a few IT options to see if we can match them up. These contractors also have to authenitcate their identities to match their DUNS/SAM accounts, so thinking we might have an avenue to data mine that end of it too.

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Thanks all.. we are up to 15 aliases and random company names now... all the read receipts are pinging from the original contractor..

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...

Remember--if you know what you are doing you can award a contract to anybody you want.

You can also not award a contract to anybody you don't want. But you have to be smart about it.

...

I don't disagree with the accuracy of that statement.

But I am troubled that perhaps the leading voice on federal contracting today apparently thinks it is appropriate for a CO to be able to choose whoever they want to get a contract, regardless of the law, regulations or fair play.

.

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brian:

Who said anything about "regardless of the law, regulations or fair play"? I think it is appropriate for a CO to be able to chose whomever they want to get a contract in accordance with law, regulations, and fair play. The whole idea is to get what you want. Isn't it? Are you supposed to get what you don't want?

Who should you want? Not a relative or a friend. You should want the best contractor offering the best product or service that you can afford. You should not have to do business with a hostile nutcase who won't perform property because you didn't know what you were doing when you planned the source selection.

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you are proving just how right I am,

when I say "perhaps the leading voice ..."

thnx for the clarification.

I'm involved right now with a case where an Agency sole-sourced to the COTR's friend.

Skewed my perspective.

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