The International Transport Intermediaries Club (ITIC) has warned of the increasing prevalence of documentation fraud.

The insurance provider pointed to a recent case it handled on behalf of a shipbroker, which highlighted that counterfeit invoices and fake emails continue to plague the industry.

The case involved a vessel coming off hire. Under the charter agreement the ship was due to be redelivered with a set quantity of bunkers onboard. The supplier arranged for the vessel to be bunkered and sent the broker an invoice for around USD300,000 to cover the owner’s share of the fuel.

The following day, the broker received an email which he believed to be from the bunker supplier with a replacement invoice of the same amount advising that their bank details had changed. The broker failed to spot that the bunker supplier’s name had been misspelt and the contact details had been changed. The genuine bunker supplier uncovered the fraud when it realised it had not been paid.

ITIC advises all parties to thoroughly check invoices before making payment – especially if there is any change to banking details.

They should make use of publicly available contact details, ITIC added. Such as those displayed on the company website, to contact suppliers to verify details and not rely on the supplier contacting them.