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Online International Export Import Fraud

ExportBureau is committed to protecting the integrity of online business. In conjunction with the various organizations listed below we are fighting online fraud in all its many forms. This is part of the core purpose of ExportBureau.com, too many trade web sites let members join with little more than a @yahoo.com email address, hardly a basis to start serious international relationships. An even worse situation exists with export sites that allow anonymous users the ability to quickly generate a seemingly genuine website with the apparent backing of a reputable export site e.g.  companyxyz.tradeleadsite.com  This may give the impression that you are dealing with a genuine export company however many of these sub sites were generated with little more identification than an anonymous email address. Be careful who you are dealing with, many con men and criminals are taking advantage of such lax security. 

What can I do if I suspect I am a victim of fraud?

Please inform us immediately if you suspect that you may be a victim of fraud by someone you met through the ExportBureau system. As a first step, please forward copies of all relevant correspondence, along with the other party's details and email addresses (if you know these) to . We will immediately investigate anyone we consider guilty of suspicious behavior.

If you receive any further suspect communications, please forward to us immediately.

How can I enjoy greater security when contacting potential business partners?

For greater security, we suggest that you can adopt the following measures when contacting potential business partners through the Internet

  1. Use SecureLC.com for all payments, SecureLC provides complete payment security by acting as a third party escrow service particularly for import export companies.
  2. Look for the agent profile on ExportID.com our sister export agent directory where you can do in depth research into you new partners history.
  3. Suspect Shipping or Contact Addresses : Pay close attention to shipping or contact addresses located in countries and regions with a high reported incidence of online fraud, such as Africa, Nigeria, Spain, Netherlands, Macedonia, Colombia. Please take care particularly of contacts based in London or UK which is being extensively used by African criminal organizations as an operating base.
  4. Call the telephone and fax numbers provided in the company's website posting to check that they are genuine.
  5. Check with the registrar of business in the country or territory that the other party claims to be from, to insure that the business is legitimate and licensed to operate. Background checks from independent third-party sources include a search for legal registration and credit reports. In many countries the existence of a company and its legal status is a matter of public record. If your trading partner is not listed in ExportID.com request that they do so, check with the companies registry in the partner's country to ensure that the company exists with a valid registration. If you cannot have independent access to your partner's registration information, ask your partner to provide you with a Certificate of Good Standing issued by the companies registry of his country or state/province. You can also gain further knowledge about your partner by ordering a credit history report from a local credit agency. Credit history reports contain information about the partner's business history in their relationships with banks and other trading partners.
  6. Use an external inspection service to insure that the products meet your requirements.
  7. Pay for a sample before purchasing in bulk.
  8. Be guided by your instinct: If the seller seems more focused on payment than any other issue, or indicates that cash payment must be made urgently, more caution should be given to the transaction.
  9. Meet Your Partner in Person:Whenever possible, meet your business partner in person and visit his company's facilities. While the internet offers you a wealth of information on your potential partner which enables you to make an initial assessment, there is no substitute for face-to-face contact. If you would like ExportBureau to arrange a face-to-face meeting with suppliers in our database community, please contact .
  10. Confirm Contact Details:Always confirm if the address, phone number and email address given to you by your trading partner belongs to the same company. If a trader provides inconsistent contact details, for example an address in the USA and phone number from another country, we recommend you look up the address in the local phone directory or use our international telephone number code page and obtain the local phone number, and call this number to confirm that the person you are in touch with actually works for the company. Similarly, if a partner's email heading states that they work for a certain company, you should verify this. Be aware that some scam artists could alter their return email address heading to make it look like they work for a company that they don't. If a buyer or seller claims to be a ExportID member, we suggest you visit their ExportID profile on www.ExportID.com verify this information.
  11. Protect Yourself When Ordering or Providing Samples : As a buyer, order a sample before committing to a purchase order to be sure that the product meets your expectations. As a seller, request payment for a sample and/or payment for shipping costs before you send out the sample, especially if your product has a high resale value.
  12. Use Pre-Shipment Inspection Services : If you are a buyer, you can protect yourself against poor quality by ordering a pre-shipment inspection of the products. You can demand the inspection as a condition to payment.
  13. Protect Yourself Against Payment Risk-You Are the Seller: If you are a seller and have not been doing business with your partner for very long, avoid selling your products on open-account (in which case you are extending credit to your buyer). Instead ask your buyer to open a letter of credit (We strongly recommend SecureLC www.securelc.com ).
  14. Protect Yourself Against Payment Risk-You Are the Buyer : If you are a buyer, sometimes a supplier may ask you for a deposit (usually 10-30%) before he accepts the order. While this is not unusual between long-standing trading partners, if you are doing business with the supplier for the first time, make sure you have done sufficient background checks on the supplier before you agree to the deposit, or ask for a different form of payment, such as a letter of credit i.e. SecureLC. If the seller seems more focused on payment than any other issue, or indicates that cash payment must be made urgently, more caution should be given to the transaction. Be extra cautious when the seller asks you to send money to an account whose real owner cannot be traced; for example, you cannot trace the real name of the person behind an account with a wiring service such as Western Union.
  15. Beware of Fake E-mail Addresses : It is possible for anyone with some technical knowledge to send an email with a fake address. When you receive an email from someone you know or whose email address appears legitimate, but the message of the email looks suspicious, you can verify whether the email came from the person whom the sender claims to be by viewing the header properties of the email to check the original email address.
It is a sad fact that over 95% of all serious international import export trade fraud emanates from various African countries. Our position is that there are many poor underdeveloped countries in the world and there is no excuse for over representation in such situations. The global community must understand that with most international trade exchanges the Importers often have no international recourse legally once a fraud incident had been committed other than to contact ExportBureau and it is our duty to inform our many importers and exporters of the reality of global trade malpractice.
What kinds of fraud should I be looking out for?

The following are four common internet scams, although there are unfortunately many others. Hopefully you won't encounter any of them, but it's as well to be aware:

· Bank Transfer (Scam Mail)
Scam mail originated in Nigeria but now emanates from many other African countries. Often, victims of this scam receive an introduction letter via email .In this letter they are usually told a story about a wealthy person (for example a rich businessman or government official) who has died. The letter asks the receiver to provide a bank account where the deceased's money can be deposited safely, and promises to give 20%-30% of the total money as compensation. To see an example of this scam mail, please click here.

· Pro forma Invoice (to get your personal information)
Some fraudsters may ask for a pro forma invoice when they do business with you, and then after you provide this, they may attempt to withdraw your funds, and purchase samples using your good name and business reputation. Your stolen identity may even be used to help con the fraudster's next victim!

· Credit card
Be very careful if a business partner you meet through the internet informs you that they can only send you payment by check or credit card...If you accept these payment methods you are running a risk that the checks have been forged, or the credit card numbers stolen, and ultimately you may have to bear the loss. There are many credit card number generating programs available online which also generate fake addresses and pins numbers which conform to the banks algorithms.

· Free sample fraud
We often find cases where a fake importer writes to many hundreds of companies asking for free samples to be sent to them with the fake promise of big sales once they have inspected the goods, in reality these are usually aimed at easy to resale electronic items such as mobile phones, laptops and personal audio electronic produces which they then resell at their local market. While we encourage discount samples to be sent to potiential buyers, the buyer should be requested to pay for shipping and most of the cost of the item.

· Immigration Fraud
Below is an outline of the various methods criminals in Africa and Pakistan are now using to help them bypass western immigration systems by abusing invitation programs set up to help increase trade with these locations.

Online Immigration Scam

ExportBureau has become aware of criminal networks contacting our members with the promise of possible trade deals subject to them sending a technician or marketing team to the manufacturers country. The fake buyer quickly requests a immigration sponsorship or reference for their nominated person to the manufacturers host country thereby avoiding local immigration rules. The criminals typically operate from Nigeria or Pakistan and focus on wealthy industrialized countries. The letters are often very subtle and appear to be genuine trade related emails. (see sample)

-----------------------------------------SAMPLE ONLY---------------------------------------------------------

FROM: Naveed Ahmed
(Chief Executive)

We are much pleased to introduce ourselves as your prospective clients. We are commercial importers of Pakistan deal with import of different items according to the demand of our customers with letter of credit, etc. type of conditions.
I have visited your web site almost a week before. From then I had given the task to my marketing team to visit whole market and see the situation of your Equipments in Pakistani market. My marketing team has given me very good response.
Presently, we want to know about your product range and price lists to import them to Pakistan for one of our current orders. We also believe that we can find a very good potential in the local market of Pakistan.
Therefore, we will do appreciate to have your descriptive catalogue and Brochures for our further understanding by AIRMAIL.
À Furthermore, for price negotiating delivery & shipment procedure and other necessary matters, the undersigned can visit your premises in the 1ST week of December, if that suits your schedule.
If you will need some further information or documentation please don't hesitate to contact us at the above-mentioned address and e-mail address.
We assure you of the endless business possibilities in Pakistan. Anticipating a positive response by Return Fax, Email.


(Chief Executive)

----------------------------------------SAMPLE ONLY---------------------------------------------------------------

here is another similar letter sent from Ethiopia, note the fact he is more interested in the invitation than the goods. Over 5000 copies of the following message were sent to companies around the world (Mostly developed european countries)

-----------------------------------------SAMPLE ONLY---------------------------------------------------------

Application from Tedla
Name: Bahru w.tsadik  shirt tailor
Email: arta7450@care2.com
Comments: our company wants to work with you.
we want to visit your working center.
please send me an Invitation letter.
we also want to see your product picture please send us pictures of your production.

Tedla Bahru Woldetsadik
Addis Ababa

----------------------------------------SAMPLE ONLY---------------------------------------------------------------

The general idea is to use the company invitation to bypass local immigration controls and then disappear into the local African or Pakistani immigrant population once there.

It appears criminal gangs are focusing on the lucrative illegal immigration racket and like the Nigerian advanced fee fraud emails are trying to use legitimate business as a cover for their operation. Our advice would be to ignore these criminal emails or forward them on to your local law enforcement or immigration agencies.


Nigerian Government Response
The Nigerian government under international pressure concerning the massive worldwide criminal operations managed and operated from within its borders announced that they had launched a website where victims from all over the world could report the criminals details http://www.nigerianfraudwatch.org/ however since its launch in April 2004 it has never actually operated instead it redirects to dubious trafficz.com search engine which is full of shady internet marketing companies and promises to "maximize the ROI on your online real estate"
Persistent victims wishing to pass on their information to the Nigerian government if not satisfied with this response are further directed to http://www.nigeriapolice.org/ also registered by the Nigerian government police force, unfortunately this has also been under a permanent "re-construction" status since March 2002 and has no information or contact details however does display a neat photo of Sunday G Eindero Inspector general of police of Nigeria.
Better Business Bureau

Better Business Bureaus are private non-profit organizations supported largely by membership dues paid by business and professional groups in each Bureaus' service area. Provide reports on business firms that will be helpful to you before making a purchase. The BBB system responds to millions of such inquiries each year; Provide information about charity groups and organizations; Help resolve consumers' disputes with businesses through telephone conciliation, mediation and arbitration; Promote ethical business standards and voluntary self-regulation of business practices.


Association of Certified Fraud Examiners

The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners is an international, 25,000-member professional organization dedicated to fighting fraud and white-collar crime. With offices in North America and Europe - and chapters around the globe - the Association is networked to respond to the needs of anti-fraud professionals everywhere.


Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN)

The mission of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network is to support law enforcement investigative efforts and foster interagency and global cooperation against domestic and international financial crimes; and to provide U.S. policy makers with strategic analyses of domestic and worldwide money-laundering developments, trends and patterns. FinCEN works towards those ends through information collection, analysis, and sharing, technological assistance, and innovative and cost-effective implementation of Treasury authorities.


Internet Crimes Group Inc.

The Internet investigations division of International Business Research was created in 1997 to address the growing problems of fraud, libel and securities manipulation perpetrated via the Internet. To meet the increasing demand for such specialized cyber-crime expertise, the Internet Crimes Group was incorporated in January 2000.


Internet Scam Busters

Not only one of the best Sites for dealing with Internet fraud but also provides a host of excellent links to other useful Sites in this arena.


US Secret Service - Financial Crimes Branch (FCD)

The Financial Crimes Division (FCD) plans, reviews, and coordinates criminal investigations involving Financial Systems Crimes, including bank fraud; access device fraud; telemarketing; telecommunications fraud (cellular and hard wire); computer fraud; automated payment systems and teller machines; direct deposit; investigations of forgery, uttering, alteration, false personating, or false claims involving U.S. Treasury Checks, U.S. Savings Bonds, U.S. Treasury Notes, bonds, and bills; electronic funds transfer (EFT) including Treasury disbursements and fraud within Treasury payment systems; fraud involving U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Coupons and Authority to Participate (ATP) cards; Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation investigations; Farm Credit Administration violations; fraud and related activity in connection with identification documents and fraudulent commercial, fictitious instruments, foreign securities. The Division also coordinates the activities of the U.S. Secret Service Organized Crimes Program, and oversees money laundering investigations.


US Secret Service - Electronic Crimes Branch (ECB)

The passage of the Omnibus Crime Control Act of 1984 brought to the Secret Service investigative jurisdiction for violations of Title 18 United States Code 1029 (credit card and access devices) and in 1986 Title 18,United States Code 1030 (computer fraud). The Financial Crimes Division's Electronic Crimes Branch houses the equipment and personnel devoted to these jurisdictions.

File a Complaint:


FBI - Internet Fraud & Complaints Center

The Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC) is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C). IFCC's mission is to address fraud committed over the Internet. For victims of Internet fraud, IFCC provides a convenient and easy-to-use reporting mechanism that alerts authorities of a suspected criminal or civil violation. For law enforcement and regulatory agencies at all levels, IFCC offers a central repository for complaints related to Internet fraud, works to quantify fraud patterns, and provides timely statistical data of current fraud trends.

File a Complaint:



Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

The Federal Trade Commission enforces a variety of federal antitrust and consumer protection laws. The Commission seeks to ensure that the nation's markets function competitively, and are vigorous, efficient, and free of undue restrictions. The Commission also works to enhance the smooth operation of the marketplace by eliminating acts or practices that are unfair or deceptive. In general, the Commission's efforts are directed toward stopping actions that threaten consumers' opportunities to exercise informed choice. Finally, the Commission undertakes economic analysis to support its law enforcement efforts and to contribute to the policy deliberations of the Congress, the Executive Branch, other independent agencies, and state and local governments when requested.

File a Complaint:


National Fraud Information Center (NFIC)

The passage of the Omnibus Crime Control Act of 1984 brought to the Secret Service investigative jurisdiction for violations of Title 18 United States Code 1029 (credit card and access devices) and in 1986 Title 18,United States Code 1030 (computer fraud). The Financial Crimes Division's Electronic Crimes Branch houses the equipment and personnel devoted to these jurisdictions.

File a Complaint:


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