23 Aug 2014
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Patch Instagram photo by lindsayjoyy
Patch Instagram photo by lindsayjoyy

Building Material Thefts Part of Nationwide FBI Probe

Green Brook business one of hundreds allegedly ripped off by Canadian companies.

Building Material Thefts Part of Nationwide FBI Probe

The FBI and Canadian authorities are investigating several companies for a series of alleged thefts—including one in Green Brook—that ripped off hundreds of building material suppliers nationwide.

Flemington Tile and Supply Co. on Route 22 reported in June that Aya Distributors allegedly applied for credit with falsified information, including telephone numbers and banking information, which was used to purchase $10,207 worth of 18-inch square tiles, Green Brook Police said.

The alleged scheme surfaced in late 2011, according to industry association reports.

Flemington Tile officials did not return phone calls seeking comment.

The FBI launched an investigation called Operation CANSCAM and set up a website for companies to detail their activities with these companies.

“The FBI is currently investigating the activities of allegedly fraudulent Canadian business entities that are defrauding U.S. companies. In summary, the scam begins when a Canadian business (typically located in or around Montreal, Quebec) requests a line of credit with a U.S. business," the FBI said in a prepared statement.

"The Canadian business will fax or e-mail references, credit documents, and/or tax documents to prove authenticity. The Canadian business will then place an order for materials on the line of credit and arrange for shipping by a third party. The materials are hauled to Canada, and payment is never made.”

The FBI has identified Canstruct, Inc., AYA Distributors, Xpress Auto Parts, Point Tech Performer, Inc. and Emptech as allegedly fraudulent Canadian businesses as participants in the alleged scheme.

The alleged scheme has targeted lumber and construction material retailers (lumber, siding, roofing, flooring, etc.), tire retailers, auto parts retailers, trucking and logistics companies, and painting supply companies, according to the FBI.

Trade associations across the country have alerted members to the activities, and a recent story on Watchung-Green Brook Patch that said they were also victims of the scam. A LinkedIn discussion group called “ Confessions of a Sales Manager” has generated dozens of similar comments.

Among the trade associations that have issued alerts are the Northeastern Retail Lumber Association, the Eastern Builders Materials Dealers Association, National Lumber & Building Material Dealers Association and the Michigan Lumber and Building Materials Association.

Business that suspect they are victims of this scheme can call the FBI at 877-236-8947 and select option 2. Additional information can be sent via email to canscam@ic.fbi.gov.

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