Fraudulent diversion of funds is on the increase in the maritime sector, according to mutual insurer the International Transport Intermediaries Club.
Typical cases include instances in which the party due to make a payment receives a bogus message altering the recipient’s bank details.
Examples have included the diversion of ship agents’ disbursements accounts. Shipmanagers are also among those who have been targeted, and ITIC has earlier warned about the fraudulent diversion of port expenses.
Often email addresses used by the fraudsters are only very slightly different to the genuine ones, with perhaps a single letter being omitted, making it very difficult to spot them.
“Any message changing account details should be regarded with suspicion, and steps taken to secure independent verification of instructions,” ITIC argued in a statement.
ITIC highlights a case in which one shipbroker managed to frustrate an attempt to divert monthly hire payments by telephoning an owner’s accounts department to verify whether or not a request to forward funds was genuine. He discovered that it was not.
Such checks should not involve replying to the suspect email, but rather using a different channel of communication or — at the very least — re-entering the email address copied from a message known to be genuine.
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