Scams are everywhere these days and industrial companies are not immune. We have been made aware of one or two doing the rounds that are difficult to detect.
The Modus Operandi is to setup a website, purporting to be a mine, and then setup a second website purporting to be a manufacturer of a very specific product. The scammers then send out a tender document from this fictitious mine that looks official, requesting a quote for a very specific product. When you, as the supplier, try and source this product via a search engine, you will come up with their second website, which happens to manufacture the exact product you are tendering on.
You would then obtain a quote from this fictitious manufacturer and submit your tender to the fictitious mine who will naturally accept. The fictitious manufacturer requires a 50% deposit and once you pay, disappears with your money.
When investigating this scam, here are a few things we picked up that could assist you in assessing how legitimate an enquiry is. Please note that this is not an exhaustive but what we found in this particular case.
- Both websites were well done and, at first glance, looked legit. They contained all the normal information you would expect from a mine or manufacturing company, like history, information on directors, details of operations, mission statements, full contact details, etc.
- However, on closer inspection, there were a few anomalies, like the photos used on both websites were from other websites. For example, the picture of the factory shown on the contact page was taken from another property website and then had the company logo added to the picture. The website claimed to be in South Africa, yet this building is in New York. You can also see that the logo has been superimposed onto the picture.
- If a Google search only brings up one company for the product being requested, be wary.
- Search for the mine. A mine will have other published references in known journals, if it exists. However, be aware that they could use a name of a mine that does exist. If it does exist in other sources, obtain the contact details and verify they match.
- Obtain trade references from both sides.
- Any new contact you have should be checked out as far as possible, especially a ‘too good to be true’ enquiry.
- The physical address to ensure that it actually exists. Google street view is useful for this. So far the address of the companies have been in very remote towns to make it difficult to check out, but after checking various sources, we found the road did not even exist.
- Age of the bank account. Typically bank accounts used for scamming are not very old. In the cases we were alerted to, they were less than six months old.
- Company name, registration number and tax numbers against government records.
- Telephone number (of course they could setup a legit telephone number).
- Links on their website going to social sites. You will be able to see if they exist and, if they do, what sort of activity there is.