Monday, October 15, 2012

Scammers Impersonating UK Company

Foods of Europe is a British food export company located in Bordon, which is near London. Lately, someone has begun placing orders in their name with companies in Germany and having them shipped to a storage facility, instead of to Foods of Europe's receiving facilities.

The scammers even set-up a fake website where they copied the legitimate website almost exactly and that website can be found here. It seems that the word has gotten around about how the website is not legitimate. I tried to visit the site and was greeted by this image

Legitimate website
Fake website (note the missing "s" in the name)

While the registration information for the fake site lists the address of the real company in its registrant information, the site is registered in Berlin, Germany and its servers are also located there. The fake site is about a month old, having been created on September 17, 2012.

Despite orders being placed with German companies under fraudulent circumstances, the registering company refuses to take any action, unless told to do so by the German police. Actually, that would be the Berlin police, as there is no federal law enforcement agency for Germany. After the Nazi era, Germans are naturally hesitant to establish a national law enforcement agency due to fears it would become too powerful. These fears are well-founded, considering how powerful American federal law enforcement agencies became under the Patriot Act.

The scammers have done a pretty good job of getting all this set-up. Aside from the almost perfect copy they made of the real website, even their contact information is very close to the real company's.

Foods of Europe's telephone numbers and email address are:

Tel: +44 (0) 1420 488644
Fax: +44 (0) 1420 488744

The scammers' given contact information is

Tel: +44 (0) 1424 541015
Fax: +44 (0) 1424 541028

Apparently, some German companies have already been defrauded of products they have shipped overseas to the scammers, thereby losing whatever payment they were owed. Foods of Europe, while not losing any money themselves, has been left to deal with the angry victims and has well-founded fears that their company's reputation is endangered.

I have to admit, this scam is pretty well-done. The scammers invested a lot of time and effort to build the website, so they've got some technical expertise above and beyond the typical fraudsters. How this will turnout is anybody's guess.

October 15, 2012 update: the scammers' website was taken down by the hosting company

Duane Browning

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