Beware of scammers in the market

Amidst high demand and restricted legal supplies of products like Siberian Larch and Birch Plywood, we have been made aware of some scam emails being circulated, with timber being offered from Russia at prices and with lead times too good to be true.

Some are even claiming to be able to disguise the origin of goods by bringing them through third countries like Turkey.  Such products would of course be illegal; however, it is doubtful if these emails are anything other than targeted email scams designed to breech email security or extract money for goods which do not exist.

Offers for products that are in restricted in supply or at very cheap prices should immediately set alarm bells ringing. While at a glance these emails may appear to be legitimate a closer inspection will often reveal their true nature. This week we have seen numerous examples offering Russian timber which appear entirely credible using the correct terminology and making links to marketing materials from what appear to be genuine manufacturers. However, the emails used are generic and not linked in any way to these companies.

It is important for our members to keep wary of scams, particularly in the current market. We would always advise members to not give any credence to offers of illegal wood from countries under sanction like Russia or Belarus. You should also make absolutely sure you know who they are dealing with electronically before sharing company information such as bank details or sending any form of payment. Some dead giveaways of a scam will be an unusual email address behind what looks like a genuine sender name, a misspelled domain name, spelling errors, suspicious attachments, or links, or that the message creates a sense of urgency.

We are also aware of an ongoing case of Birch Plywood scam, none of these obvious marks applied and it took quite a bit more investigation to establish the truth. With some research a canny member found that no person at the supplier company had the name from the email, while the address itself was slightly altered from the regular domain name. The scammer had even altered legitimate supporting documents in the email to show the fake domain.

If you have received an email which you’re not quite sure about, make sure you do your homework, and if you think it is a scam, please forward it to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS), run by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC): report@phishing.gov.uk.


How to spot a scam E-mail

Top tip: Look at the email address, not just the sender

A scam email usually has a fairly bizarre email address behind what looks like a genuine sender name.

To find out if there’s a fraudster behind what looks like a genuine sender, use your mouse to hover the cursor over or right-click on the sender name and you should see the email address behind it.

Other signs that an email may not be legitimate are:

  • The domain name is misspelled
  • The email is poorly written
  • It includes suspicious attachments or links
  • The message creates a sense of urgency

What to do if you have spotted a suspicious email

If you have received an email which you’re not quite sure about, forward it to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS), run by the National Cyber Security Center (NCSC): report@phishing.gov.uk

For more tips and resources on staying safe online, there are plenty of articles and infographics on the NCSC website which are worth checking out.