Tell-tale signs expose fraudsters’ real identities

UAE executive says con men posing as French channel companies are easy to spot

Tags: United Arab Emirates
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Tell-tale signs expose fraudsters’ real identities There are fears that the UAE reseller channel could be a target for fraudsters following attempts to deceive European channel companies. (ITP Images)
By  Andrew Seymour Published  July 18, 2010

UAE channel companies should look out for some simple tell-tale signs if they fear that prospective customers are actually fraudsters posing as legitimate European distributors, according to a UAE-based executive who was recently approached by the scam artists.

As reported on itp.net last week, it has emerged that African conmen have been attempting to dupe channel companies into sending them IT products by masquerading as genuine French distributors and resellers. They then disappear without payment, selling the goods on the black market.

The imposters had initially targeted resellers in Europe, but according to channel database firm ITDistri, which raised the alarm over the scam, they have also begun reaching out to UAE channel firms in recent months.

A UAE-based channel executive who was contacted by one group of fraudsters has told Channel Middle East that the slapdash nature of their correspondence gave the game away.

The source, who was working for an IT broker at the time but recently joined a vendor, said his suspicions were aroused from the off.

"They got our contact details from our website and then approached us saying that they wanted our bank details. The e-mail was very simple, but it sounded fishy because the tone of it was basically, ‘hi, we don't know you, but we want to do business with you,'" he explained.

On this particular occasion, it is understood the fraudsters attempted to pose as French multimedia hardware outfit NewCom Distribution. They even appeared to use the e-mail ID of a legitimate employee, changing the domain to .com instead of .fr.

"None of it sounded right and the English was not how you would expect an average French person to write it, and when I tried to call the number on their e-mail it wasn't working," said the source. "They asked what the procedure was to open an account with us but something didn't sound right. Unfortunately for them I put in a call to the actual company who said that it was not the first time it had happened."

According to ITDistri, language errors on spontaneous correspondence that resellers receive from foreign companies are a sign that the enquiry could be false. It also said fraudsters will almost always ask for delivery to a transit or freight company.

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