В статье рассматриваются чрезвычайно актуальные вопросы, связанные с мошенничеством в области морского бизнеса, которые совершаются с использованием электронных технологий и телекоммуникации. Настоящая статья особенно интересна примером из практики клуба взаимного страхования относительно мошеннической схемы, в которой мошенники воспользовались информацией, содержащейся в нешифрованном сообщении, переданном по электронной почте. Весьма интересны и полезны также рекомендации страхователям, направленные на предупреждение мошенничества и относительно действий потерпевших при обнаружении фактов мошенничества. Introduction
It has recently come to the Club’s attention that there have been an increasing number of attempted and actual frauds against charterers, operators and shipowners involving the hacking of a broker’s, or other intermediary’s, unencrypted emails. This has resulted in the fraudulent diversion of payments from the intended beneficiary in respect of hire, bunkers, freight, and other sums similarly due under charters. This type of email fraud is not a new phenomenon within the maritime industry, which has seen similar frauds against ship agents in respect of disbursement accounts and ship managers, including in respect of payments of port expenses and feesin the past. In the event of such a fraud, the crime can give rise to potential legal disputes between shipowners, charterers and operators, and their brokers, as to whether the paying party has discharged its payment obligations by following what purport to be the beneficiary’s instructions, and complex issues relating to authority and negligence.
Features of the fraud
It is not unusual for a charter to be fixed without the owners’ bank details being incorporated into its terms, such that banking details follow on later, provided through the broking chain, as part of the post‐fixture information passed on by unencrypted email. Sometimes this information might be provided for the first time in the initial freight or hire statement, again passed on through the broking chain. It is also not unusual for brokers to top and tail incoming messages before passing them on, so removing the email addresses of the sender. Furthermore, financing arrangements may mean a shipowner or operator may have a number of bank accounts, in jurisdictions not necessarily directly related to the domicile of operators, owners or their fleet managers. Taken together, these factors can create an opportunity for email fraud. The Club has seen a number of incidents where owners’ bank account information is passed down through brokers to charterers, only to be quickly followed by revised instructions giving new bank account information. In one example, the revised instructions followed by email within just a couple of hours of the original instructions. In the fraud cases that the Club has seen, the sender of the email with the revised instructions was a third‐party fraudster, who had been able to hack the intermediary’s server, gain access to previous unencrypted email communications pertaining to charter payments, and clone the broker’s email address giving some authenticity to the revised instructions. The fraudulent email address may therefore seem be the same as the sender of the original information, or be only very slightly different to that of the sender’s genuine address, sometimes with discrete adjustments of just a single letter. Often the new bank account is located in a different country, with various explanations given for the change. By the time charterers receive notice from ownersthat they have not received the anticipated payment, the funds have often been withdrawn from the fraudsters account. It follows that charterers might then run the risk of being obliged to make payment twice, whilst being unable to recover the fraudulently diverted sums.
In light of these increasing incidents, Assureds are advised to exercise increased vigilance when receiving instructions to revise a beneficiary’s banking information. The following non‐ exhaustive list may be helpful when dealing with a beneficiary’s banking details being passed on by email:
1. Where possible, seek to have the owners’ payment details included as a term of the charter.
2. If a beneficiary’s banking information, or revised instructions relating to that information, comes down a broker chain, seek to independently verify it before making any payment, by speaking to the broker or having the broker speak to the beneficiary.
3. When correspondence is received via an intermediary, such as a broker, with the originating email address obscured, Assureds should seek written confirmation from the party passing on the message that it has taken similar steps to confirm that the communication is genuine, prior to making payment.
4. If an Assured becomes aware that it may have made a payment to a fraudulent third‐ party, act quickly: contact the remitting bank or paying agent and request their assistance in revoking or recalling the payment. The Club is aware thatsome payments have been suspended at the intermediary bank or even ultimate receiving bank stage, ultimately enabling the successful return of funds.
In addition to informing the intended beneficiary of the on‐going situation, Assureds may also consider reporting the fraud to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), and request that the complaint be formally logged. Assureds are invited to contact the Club in the event of any dispute arising from a fraudulently diverted payment or if they require any further information or assistance in respect of this bulletin.
Michael Else and Company Limited, as Managers E. &O.E. Dated London, 22 November 2015