As scamming takes place from a foreign country, the local police can do nothing to help the cheated companies. So, the only solution is, at any and all costs, to avoid selling anything in case of doubt about the legitimacy of the client. It is also needless to call the police beforehand: it will do nothing as there has been no theft yet...
Better than scamming, real companies
In the recent weeks and months, a new, more dangerous scam has emerged. Scammers acquire companies, whose owner seeks to retire, for a few tens of thousands of euros. The acquisition of the business allows them to benefit from its outstanding, which is usually rather generous as the company seldom has any problems in the past. They then can spend large orders (worth hundreds of thousands of euros) from wholesalers, which can be delivered anywhere (including in the company’s warehouse). Once delivered, they vanish into thin air with the goods, without paying for them. To act recklessly and discreetly, the crooks actually benefit from the time-shift between the acquisition and the actual publication of the information to relevant bodies (tax authorities, registry of the commercial court, credit insurance companies, etc.).
Obviously, compared to the classic frauds where scammers are simply masquerading as legitimate business, this problem will be relatively limited, insofar as the crooks must first pay tens of thousands of euros to the former owner of the company before implementing their plan: this is not within the reach of everyone! However, the potentially high value of the frauds deserves wide publicity to warn the potential victims. To avoid the fraud, a few measures can be implemented. The most basic is to refuse delivery to a new customer without cash payment. Otherwise, one need to make sure of the reality of the order:
- By asking who are the regular suppliers of the company, with some names and emails contacts
- Then by contacting these suppliers and ask them if they are aware of any change of ownership, and who is their usual contact in the company. If the contact is recently gone or has recently changed, then the order should be refused. If the contact is still working for the company, he should be contacted directly, to enquire about any new owner. If that’s the case, then best would be to refuse the order. If that’s not the case, then the order can be processed, while a cash payment should nevertheless be required, as a precaution
As the potential amount of the fraud can be very high (several hundreds of thousands of euros), this checklist is worth the time it takes, as it can help avoiding major problems.
In any case, as it is difficult to identify the thieves beforehand, the ideal would be for the former owners to largely warn the market (wholesalers, competitors, colleagues and of course channel magazines and websites) about the sale of their company…
Created in 2005 on a 16-year experience in IT channel and press, online EMEA database ITdistri gathers information in eleven languages on more than 6100 IT distributors in 123 countries in EMEA region. ITdistri helps resellers find new distributors, and IT vendors to expand their EMEA distribution network. Its data is available or sold through press, market or service partners. Currently, about 300 000 viewed pages and 80 000 visits are registered monthly on ITdistri website. One year after switching to pay-model, more than 300 customers (distributors, traders, vendors and resellers) from 42 countries are using ITdistri services.
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