The Confederation of Passenger Transport has been alerted to a possible finance fraud which is initiated with an enquiry from a prospective overseas client requesting quotes for UK coach hire for a conference or tour programme.
The initial enquiry may appear vague but equally could be more detailed and have specific requirements and geographical locations. The enquiry appears entirely genuine and the subsequent chain of emails appears likely to engender confidence in the client by the coach operator. It may or not be apparent where the client is based but we are aware of connections to countries in the Far East.
At some stage in the process, the client will introduce translators, tour-guides and other local, ancillary activities which they will be seeking to include in the transaction with the coach operator, who then becomes responsible for payments to these additional parties. This is claimed to be due to these being small businesses or self-employed contractors without facilities to accept credit card payments. The coach operator is paid a large deposit by credit card and subsequently a substantial balance in advance before being asked to settle the invoices of the additional parties by bank transfer. There are strong grounds to believe that the credit card company will subsequently cancel the initial payments to the coach operator, recall the funds and any payments made by the coach operator will not be recoverable.
On the face of it, this appears to be a highly sophisticated and professional fraud and members are warned to treat any enquiries they receive which follow this pattern with utmost caution. If they believe they may have been the unsuspecting victims, they should report the matter to their local police.