A ship broker received a freight invoice via email from owners for US$ 120,000. The bank account detailed in the invoice was the same account as that which had previously been used by owners with the same charterer. Several hours later a further e-mail was received, apparently, from the owner to advise of a change to the bank account details on the invoice. The email stated that the originally detailed bank account was “no longer available to receive payment due to an internal audit that was beginning tomorrow”.
The message was not in fact from the genuine owners, but from an e-mail address which looked very similar. A fraudster had created an e-mail address replacing full stops in the company name with dashes. In addition to a revised invoice, the fraudster provided a fake “Account Registration Form” which reported that the account details were true.
The broker failed to notice the change in the e-mail address and accepted the account evidence and explanation as being genuine. The broker passed on the invoice as “received from owners”. It was only after the owners enquired as to the whereabouts of the freight that the scam was discovered.
The charterer had to pay the freight again and claimed from the broker for negligence in failing to notice the change and for failing to adequately check that the details were correct. The broker had to reimburse the charterer for the freight that they had to pay for a second time. ITIC reimbursed the broker.