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BIR fraud alert follows ‘spurious’ offers

Belgium – A ‘spate of spurious business offers in the international recycling industry involving non-existent cargoes of scrap metal’ has left the BIR world recycling organisation ‘very concerned’.

In recent weeks, several cases have been reported to the Brussels-based body of scrap cargoes being offered to member companies ‘at knock-down prices’. But after verification through the London-based International Maritime Bureau (IMB), which forms part of the Commercial Crime Services anti-crime unit of the International Chamber of Commerce, it became apparent that associated documents ‘were not authentic’.

And in several cases, BIR adds, ‘the same documents had been presented on multiple occasions with different company names’, suggesting that either the same individuals were behind the offers, or that the documents were available in the public domain and were ‘ready to be manipulated by any fraudulent individual’.

According to the IMB, with which BIR has an agreement to share information on fraud and theft in the recycling industry, further analysis revealed the offers were quite frequently made in the name of real traders whose identities had been ‘cloned’ for fraudulent purposes. One strategy appeared to be the creation of a new website with a domain name similar to that of the genuine company, featuring its contact details but with different telephone numbers. It also found that email communications allegedly sent from a UK-based company were actually generated in Nigeria.

The IMB has also seen a number of cases of major carriers’ websites being cloned to provide convincing tracking facilities – ‘often hosted on domains with names similar to the genuine carrier’s website’. Once funds have been handed over but the customer has failed to receive the goods, there is very little he or she can do to recover the loss, states BIR. Law enforcement officers will not get involved unless there is proof a crime has been committed in their jurisdiction. In addition, many of the cases involve funds of under US$ 100 000 – ‘making them quite often low priority for the already overburdened police’

BIR is urging its members to report any suspicious documents or fraudulent activity to the IMB ‘so that the information can be disseminated to manage risk’.

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