On a more global basis, ITIC has been seeing more cases of fraud being reported.
Fraudsters use brokers, agents and ship managers as a vehicle for crime. The result leaves them exposed to a liability as a result of somebody else’s dishonesty.
In April 2014, ITIC became aware of a scam which resulted in pre-funded port costs being diverted to a fake bank account. In each case the Owner due to make the payment received an email advising that the agent’s bank account was inoperable because of their annual audit. The message was sent using an email address very similar to the agent’s address. Details of a different bank account were provided for payment. Owners unfortunately sent money to the new account. By the time the agent reported that the pro-forma disbursement account has not been paid, the fraudsters had stolen the money.
Two of ITIC’s Gulf based Members have been victims of this type of fraud in the last six months.
In retrospect it may appear that a few simple checks would have been sufficient to prevent these losses occurring; the email address used by the fraudster may be very similar to the genuine one, but it will not be identical. This may lead to criticism of the victim, but taken in the context of the varied and often time-sensitive daily activities of a busy shipping professional, it is not difficult to see why a minor difference in the e-mail address was not detected. Members should treat any message instructing a change in bank details as suspicious and should seek separate verification from the sender.
Further information can be found on this topic in the recent article written by ITIC’s Claims Director, Andrew Jamieson, and ITIC Account Executive, Melanie Thomas for the ICS Shipping Network magazine: http://www.itic-insure.com/news-media/article/itic-in-the-news-dont-take-amendments-at-face-value-article-from-the-ics-shipping-network-magazine-131294/