Scammers taking aim at the aquaculture industry: “They seemed to have a lot of knowledge about by-products”

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Villa Seafood and Torsvågbruket targeted in attempt to scam UK British Seafood.

The fraud attempt is based on an exact replica of Villa Seafood’s own website, villaseafood.com. The employee’s name and contact information has been changed, probably in an attempt at identity theft.

“Ove Thu, CEO of Villa Seafood has been named Ole Henrik Tellebond, who is the general manager of Torsvågbruket, and accounting chief of Villa Seafood has become Anne Kultorp, who is sales director at Villa Seafood,” Marie Luise Lassesen, Villa Seafood’s managing director told SalmonBusiness.

The website of the fraudsters, torsvagbruket.com, is otherwise completely identical to Villa Seafood’s real website.

Screen shot of the scam.

Offered by-products
The fraud attempt was discovered when UK Seafood contacted Villa Seafood.

“UK Seafood told us they were contacted by representatives of this alleged company and offered salmon byproducts. They had sent pictures of fish heads and backs and seemed to have a lot of knowledge about the products. They had also asked for prepayment,” said Lassesen.

Villa Seafood said that they are trying to shut down this website and that the case will be reported to the police in Norway. Norfra in Tromsø, which is the parent company of Torsvågbruket, is informed and they also want to involve the police.

More and more common
In the correspondence between UK Seafood and Villa Seafood, the English company said that this type of action has become more and more common lately and that they hope the fraudsters will not succeed.

Marie Lassesen. Photo: Villa Seafood.

“The best defense is to let as many as possible know about the fraud attempt,” said Lassesen.

It is far from the first time companies have been used in this type of fraud attempt. In 2017, the Bergen-based exporter Ice Mar had its site cloned by a company which called Romsdal Processing.

In 2017 Scottish salmon farmer, Loch Duart, partnered with food-origin expert, Oritain, to fight food fraudsters using the company’s name to sell salmon in the United Kingdom and abroad.

Pure Norwegian Seafood has also been subjected to fraudulent attempts to defraud it.

In 2015, SalmonBusiness reported in on the fictitious company Fræna Seafood, which tried to swindle salmon players Fræna Seafood, Bravo Seafood, Gaia Seafood and Aqua Marin Farming.