Traders warned about non-existent ICC instruments quoted on Internet

  • 1 April 2005

Traders are warned to be aware of fraudulent business offers on the Internet quoting non-existent instruments of ICC. The false references most frequently concern trading in currencies, commodities, gold and financial instruments.

Elaborate websites soliciting export and import business are offering get-rich-quick deals. Some include full texts of bogus ICC non-circumvention and non-disclosure agreements. Other phoney references to watch out for are “ICC Regulations 400/500/600” and “ICC Prove and Move Rules”.

No such ICC documents or rules exist. Their appearance on websites should be seen as indicating a possible scam. They may in some cases be used to lend credibility to fraudulent transactions.

The genuine version of ICC’s non-circumvention and non-disclosure agreement is ICC Publication No. 769, ICC Model Occasional Intermediary Contract- Non-circumvention Non-disclosure (NCND), available for sale at the online ICC Business Bookstore and through ICC national committees.

Traders are well advised to familiarize themselves with ICC rules and mechanisms that are used every day in the conduct of trade, for example the rules governing letters of credit. The current version of Uniform Customs and Practice for Documentary Credits (UCP) is known as UCP 600. UCP 500 is out of date and UCP 700 has yet to be issued.

“For years, incautious investors and traders have fallen victim to fraudulent proposals involving paper documents quoting non-existent ICC rules, and often they have been cheated of large sums. Now it appears that the Internet is being used as a vehicle for these schemes. The terminology changes constantly, but the risk is always there,” said ICC First Director Martin Wassell.

An added difficulty is that the documents wrongly quoting the ICC are not necessarily designed to defraud unwary investors. In some cases legitimate traders innocently quote the non-existent rules, having copied the reference from correspondence they have received or from other websites.

ICC’s London-based Commercial Crime Bureau (CCB), part of ICC’s Commercial Crime Services, keeps close track of all types of documentary fraud and issues warnings as soon as it detects new methods of parting the gullible from their money. Any investor wishing to check out a dubious proposal is advised to contact CCB, or ICC in Paris.