Urgent Fraud Warning

Urgent Fraud Warning

Dear Sir or Madam,
We have already informed you in our letter of 24.01.2023 that several cases of fraud in connection with the ordering of EPAL pallets became known at the end of 2022 and beginning of 2023. According to current knowledge, these cases exclusively concern deliveries of pallets to France. Similar cases have also occurred in other countries in recent years, but not on the scale that has now become known.
After the dispatch of the letter of 24.01.2023 and a further warning published by EPAL France, similar cases of fraud have been reported by other companies and EPAL licensees. Unfortunately, this affects companies and EPAL licensees in several European countries who have delivered pallets to France.
The police in France are investigating intensively and are dependent on receiving information about all known cases of fraud (names of the purchasers, dates of deliveries, place of unloading, etc.). Only with knowledge of each case of fraud is there a chance of catching the perpetrators and finding the pallets, at least in part. We therefore urgently request your assistance in fully clarifying the facts of the case.
Please inform us at short notice if you yourself have received offers for the delivery of pallets from France which you consider suspicious. In this case we ask you to send us the emails you have received so that we can check them and forward them to the police in France. In the attachment (page 4-5) you will find some of the e-mails we have received from other licensees, so that you can get an impression of the type and appearance of the fraud attempts.
In particular, please inform us if you yourself have become a victim of fraud in the past 6-12 months and have delivered EPAL pallets to France or to other buyers in other countries without subsequent payment.
We assure you that we will treat your data confidentially and will only pass them on to the police. Your company will not be publicly named in connection with the fraud warnings.
In addition to our warning of 24.01.2023, we draw your attention to the following::

1 The alleged buyers of the pallets are large and well-known French companies. This is obviously intended to inspire confidence in order to enforce the purchasers' demand for delivery of a large number of pallets without advance payment and with a payment deadline of several weeks. In the cases of fraud known so far, several very well-known French companies have been named as the alleged buyers of the pallets, among others from the retail sector, but also from the mobility sector. It can be assumed that in future similar fraud attempts in France or other countries, the names of other well-known companies from other sectors will also be misused.
You are therefore requested to exercise particular caution if you receive offers in which
▪ known companies are named as customers and
▪ you have not had any previous business contact with the company.
We strongly recommend that in this case you contact the known company and ask for confirmation of the pallet request. For this purpose, use the contact details on the company's website and not the contact details in the e-mail.
EPAL and the EPAL National Committees will be happy to assist you in verifying the order.

2 It is noticeable in the cases known so far that the contact details in the e-mails do not appear very professional. In some of the e-mails it is stated that the person placing the order is acting on behalf of the known company. This is obviously to avoid that the attempted fraud is discovered when enquiries are directed to the known company.
By way of example, we show in the appendix (pages 4-5) individual e-mails with contact details with which the purchase of the pallets has been offered in the name of or on behalf of a well-known company. Please note that the indication of the names as well as the content and appearance of the e-mails may vary.

3 The fraud can only work if the pallets are actually not delivered to the known company, but unloaded at another location. Therefore, when delivering pallets to customers with whom you have not been in business contact so far, always check the unloading location as well. Check whether it is a permanent establishment of the known company. If you have any doubts, you should contact the known company and have the place of unloading confirmed. When contacting them, do not use the contact details in the suspicious emails, but use the contact details on the website of the known company.
In the past, cases have been reported where the known company's premises were initially given as the place of unloading, before another place of unloading was notified shortly before or during the transport of the pallets. If you use forwarding agents to transport the pallets, they and their drivers should therefore be informed that a change of the place of unloading is only permitted with your consent. Of course, this also applies to your own drivers if you deliver the pallets yourself.

4 Repeating the information in our letter of 24.01.2023, we would like to point out once again the following indications for the existence of a case of fraud. We have supplemented these indications on the basis of the information we have received in the meantime.
Important indications for the existence of a fraud case are:
▪ First-time order by a company not previously known to you as a business partner.
▪ Order of a large number of EPAL Euro pallets
▪ Order from abroad
▪ Refusal by the customer to make serious enquiries or negotiations about the price and quality of the EPAL Euro pallets
▪ Refusal to pay in advance or to demand payment terms of 30/60/90 days
▪ The place of unloading of the pallets is not a location of the alleged buyer (known company).
EPAL France has informed us that in the meantime EPAL Euro pallets are being offered on the market in France at very low prices. It can be assumed that these are the pallets from the fraud cases.
Please inform us at short notice of any suspicious offer and note that the purchase of the pallets from the fraud cases is associated with the risk that the pallets will have to be surrendered in the event of confiscation by the police, without any refund of the purchase price.
We therefore strongly recommend that you only buy new EPAL Euro pallets from EPAL licensees. Should you nevertheless wish to purchase new EPAL Euro pallets from companies that are not EPAL licensees, we recommend that you ask for proof of legal purchase of the pallets (e.g. invoice and delivery papers proving delivery of the seller by an EPAL licensee).

Best regards
Bernd Dörre
CEO of the European Pallet Association e.V.

Attachment: Fraudulent e-mail order (examples)