An attempt to steal goods worth nearly €1m was foiled, thanks to a vigilant Coface underwriter in the UK.
A Coface policy holder in Germany submitted a request for a credit limit of €1m to cover an order it had just received from a UK chemical business. But when details of the request crossed the desk of one of our UK underwriters, the unusual nature of the transaction immediately rang alarm bells.
“An overseas supplier would have no reason to know the local market but I questioned why a UK business would request the goods to be shipped from Spain to Kenya and then onto Uganda. While there might have been a genuine reason, this is a part of the world where fraudulent transactions are more common and it didn’t sit right. As it happened, we were aware of the buyer so we contacted them to find out the extent of their business activity in Kenya. It turned out to be very little.”
Coface went back to the supplier to give an initial refusal of cover and asked for a copy of the order which turned out to be a forgery. “The PO was signed by the Managing Director which didn’t fit with the size of the business involved and when we checked the signature had been lifted from the set of accounts filed with Companies House. The other giveaway was that the only contact given was a mobile phone number.
“Sure enough, when Coface spoke with the buyer they told us that they didn’t normally deal with or stock the product concerned and all POs were managed by a dedicated department, not the MD.”
Coface advised the policy holder that the order was fraudulent and they didn’t release the goods. We also updated our internal systems so there was an awareness that fraudsters are stealing the identity of this UK business to perpetrate fraud so when another limit request is received it will reduce the probability of ID fraud being perpetrated.
As well as saving the supplier from huge losses, the underwriter’s actions also protected the reputation of the legitimate UK business who had been impersonated.