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An alleged online scam that is said to have cheated around ten hauliers out of thousands of pounds of payment for loads taken from Europe to the UK has been referred to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau.

The bureau was alerted to the scam by UK haulage company Trans Orbis Forwarding, after it discovered the fraudsters had used the company name to advertise loads on international freight exchange website Timocom, reportedly conning at least ten hauliers out of an estimated €150,000.

Trans Orbis Forwarding owner Dave Shaw is warning UK hauliers to check the details of companies advertising loads  before accepting the work and to check that their companies are not being cloned as his was on the site.

Timocom said it had been unaware of the matter until contacted by and was now carrying out a full investigation.

"We have an extensive security verification of each company, no exception, before giving access to our smart logistics system," a spokeswoman said. "This is a restricted, 'closed' software one cannot access without Timocom having granted the access. It’s not an open platform or a website.

"When a company has been verified and approved, the company information is entered into the system by our employees and it is not possible for the customer to change any company information such as company name/email/telephone number/users etc. themselves. Any change in company information has to be verified and confirmed by our employees without exception. Technically, it is also not possible for the customer to change any company information themselves, even if they tried to." 

Shaw said he was alerted to the scam after a factoring agent contacted him demanding payment for loads which the agent claimed had been arranged by his company via Timocom’s website.

When Shaw checked out the website he saw that his company’s name had been registered on Timocom’s platform but with an incorrect address, incorrect email and no telephone number.

Shaw said that since April he has been receiving invoices from a variety of hauliers for loads taken from Europe to the UK which he ignored, believing them to be a money laundering scam.

He added: “Then in July week we received a threatening letter from BNP Paribas’ factoring division claiming we owed almost €19,000 for a total of six jobs its client claims to have done on our behalf.

“After some digging it turns out that someone has managed to get our details and post genuine jobs on Timocom and these hauliers have been doing this work oblivious to the fact they are being scammed. The loads they have done are all to genuine, reputable companies in the UK.

“The scam has affected hauliers from Poland, Germany, Lithuania, Bulgaria, the Netherlands and Latvia and to my knowledge runs to at least €150,000.”

Companies affected by the scam that have so far contacted Shaw include TBX Logistics of Warsaw, Czech haulier CSAD Logistics, Dutch operator NDQ BVBA, A&E Spedition in Germany and Latvian haulier Transtira Logistics.

Shaw remains puzzled as to why his company was targeted and questioned how many other companies have had their identities cloned in this way. “Although we have an international operator’s licence, we haven't operated abroad for at least 15 years and now only do container work for two customers out of Felixstowe delivering to the UK only,” he said.

Shaw added: “We have reported this to Action Fraud here in the UK and have so far just gone back to these hauliers with the bad news that they have been conned.”

Action Fraud told it had received Shaw’s complaint and has referred it to the City of London Police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau for investigation.