Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Disgrace of Corrupt Freight Forwarders Tarnishes the Whole Industry

Struck Off Perhaps but Surely These Cases Demand Prosecution
Shipping News Feature

UK – It seems the good name of logistics continues to be threatened by those who would offer services they have no intention of delivering. While the profession offers a multitude of reliable companies, the bulk of which have professional affiliations, there will always be those who simply look to earn a fast, and illegal, buck.

This week the unimaginatively named Freight Forwardings Ltd bit the dust when officially shut down after being wound up in the public interest in the High Court in January. What is concerning about this case is firstly the time it took for clients concerns to be recognised and secondly the possible association of the company with other, similarly fraudulent businesses.

The scam used by Freight Forwardings was an old one. The company offered shipping services, demanding payment in advance for freight and charges. The difference between this and many other previous scams were the sums involved. Traditionally preying on ex-pats from overseas many companies in the past offered cheap space for personal effects being returned home.

The items, and the cash, were collected but, either due to deliberate criminal intent, or the inability to make up a sufficiently lucrative container load, the export agent simply vanished leaving the goods behind. Freight Forwardings operated on the same principal but the goods were usually the clients’ cars. This meant payments often around £2,500 following payment of which no shipment ever took place.

One imagines that in many cases the client had also left for the country of destination leaving them possible thousands of miles away with no chance of recovering the money. So to those two problems. Firstly the delay in stopping the operation. Lynda Copson, Chief Investigator for the Insolvency Service, said:

”Freight Forwardings Ltd took funds from its customers who believed and trusted that it would provide a first class one-stop shop enabling them to deliver valuable possessions to other countries. Instead, the company failed to provide the promised service, often leaving customers out of pocket or out of the possessions they had entrusted with the company. We have worked quickly to wind up this company in the public interest to stop anyone else falling victim to their poor practices.”

Doubtless in terms of the Insolvency Service this was indeed a speedy action, however a quick check of the company’s reviews reveals the most graphic descriptions of the swindles committed, many going back five years or more! Clients even have County Court judgements (unpaid) against them. This begs the question is there a disassociation between the many complaints raised and the actual affair being brought to the attention of the authorities?

There are also accusations raised in the reviews that more than one company is involved in the crimes, and that directors have used false names to avoid detection. One such, going by the name of Samuel Kalenga stands accused of paying funds into another company in which he has an interest, but no other directorships are listed with his name.

Another company alleged to be linked to the scam is Ashin Freight Forwarding, compulsorily struck off in June 2019 with its sole director listed as a Mr Kanema, the same surname as one of the ex-directors of Freight Forwardings Ltd. Yet another company looms up on the reviews of Freight Forwardings, Car Shipping Ltd., like Ashin registered in a Croydon address and struck off in January 2019.

Unfortunately many people in the market for forwarding services are dipping their toes in for the first time with no knowledge of the industry. For these people shipping such as a car may be a once in a lifetime experience and the lure of a glossy website leaves them ignorant of the fact that free, reliable professional advice is easily obtained from such as the British International Freight Association (BIFA).

The tragedy of this is of course that it gives the entire industry a bad name and demands much faster action to not only strike the offenders from the Companies House register but, with tens and possibly hundreds of thousands of pounds missing, to prosecute those behind the schemes.