CCS says this is a sign that businesses worldwide are becoming more alert to the threat of commercial crime.
“The 2001 figures are very positive,” said CCS Director Pottengal Mukundan. “They show that companies are now more willing to check the credentials of potential trading partners as a matter of routine.”
“People are beginning to realise that making due diligence checks is an essential part of doing business.”
Most of the year’s 8639 enquiries were from companies in the banking and shipping industries.
Over the year, CCS has noticed a significant increase in the number of enquiries concerning spurious banks, particularly internet-based units that attempt to attract new customers by claiming correspondent relationships with legitimate financial institutions. Some even fooled investors into believing they offered moneymaking schemes with yields of 2000 % a year.
“Many of the suspect banks we investigated were registered in industry directories and have links with legitimate financial institutions,” said Jon Merrett, Assistant-Director of ICC’s Commercial Crime Bureau. “But, in many cases, our investigations quickly revealed dubious activities, and we were able to warn customers and investors away before any transaction had been made.”
The figures also showed that shipping-related businesses are getting more wary. Maritime enquiries to CCS soared in 2001, dominated by requests for investigations into the trading history of charterparties in shipping contracts; and by banks wanting to check the authenticity of shipping documents such as bills of lading.
According to CCS, the surest way for businesses to protect themselves against the growing threat of commercial crime is to search for danger signals before entering into a deal with an unknown party, and to check information given in unfamiliar documents or websites.
Captain Mukundan said: “CCS has long believed that education and prevention provides an effective and efficient option for anyone in commerce who wants to avoid becoming a victim of crime. The new figures show that businesses are starting to agree.”