Trans Orbis Forwarding Limited, a UK-based haulage company, has become the (almost) forgotten victim of a scam involving a European freight exchange. Our dispute resolution team has been steering them through this tricky and stressful situation.
Fraudulent activity on haulage booking platform
Timocom is the largest transport web platform in Europe, allowing jobs for hauliers to be posted and booked on its site. A fraudster succeeded in setting up a fake profile, which claimed to be our client and started accepting genuine bookings from third party suppliers to transport loads from one destination to another across Europe. These were genuine jobs that the fraudster was then paid for.
The fraud was simple: a third party would instruct the ‘Fake Company’ to take a load from, say, Spain to Italy. ‘Fake Company’ would then post the job on Timocom posing as Trans Orbis Forwarding Limited, even using our client’s directors’ name with fake email addresses and telephone numbers. An unsuspecting haulier who had returned to Spain having completed a job in France would then, with an empty rig, pick up the job from Timocom and take the load from Spain to Italy. The third party would then pay ’Fake Company’ for the job, which had legitimately been carried out, and ‘Fake Company’ would then disappear. The unsuspecting haulier would, in the meantime, raise an invoice to our client Trans Orbis Forwarding Limited, who had no knowledge of the job whatsoever, having never been involved in any European haulage!
Trans Orbis Forwarding Limited faced with huge invoices and threats of court proceedings
Trans Orbis Forwarding Limited owner Dave Shaw first sought out the advice of our dispute resolution team having received a worryingly large number of high value invoices for work they had no involvement with, along with letters threatening court action.
Tees support Trans Orbis Forwarding Limited
Polly Kerr, a Senior Associate in our dispute resolution team, set about reporting the matter to the fraud office, and investigating the origin of the claims, which involved resolving a number of jurisdictional issues since the fraud was being perpetrated in Europe. Letters were issued to hauliers across Europe who have invoiced our client for work they were led to believe was carried out. One such haulier said he would be financially ruined because he has never received payment. Another company has recently issued proceedings in Romania and Polly has used our connections to work with a law firm based there and is assisting with the court proceedings process.
Future consequences of the fraud
On the case, Polly said: “This is a clever fraud and whilst our client’s losses are thankfully minimal, hauliers across Europe are being stung multiple times. No one has issued proceedings in England yet but it’s only a matter of time”.
Polly is working with Trans Orbis Forwarding Limited to raise awareness of this kind of procurement fraud within the logistics sector so that other haulage businesses may avoid encountering similar issues. Polly commented: “Ultimately Timocom need to step up on their due diligence. We have been putting pressure on them through this matter to improve their service - we know that this is not an isolated incident as hauliers across Europe have also been affected.”
Our client’s words
Transorbis Forwarding Limited owner Dave Shaw said: “I am so pleased I found Polly and she was able to guide me through this situation. She even found me an English-speaking lawyer in Romania to assist with the proceedings over there. It is a huge relief to be able to send over any potential claims and for Polly to act very swiftly to bat them away and sign post unsuspecting hauliers to the requisite authorities.”
This type of fraud could affect freight forwarders, dispatchers or any company working in manufacturing and trade sectors.
Contact us now if you think you might have been affected by any kind of fraud in the logistics sector.
Chat to the Author, Polly Kerr
Senior Associate - Dispute resolution & litigation, Royston officeMeet Polly
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