WCO launches its first Global Trendspotter Report on Customs-related Commercial Fraud

25 November 2022

On 24 November 2022, the World Customs Organization (WCO) published its first Global Trendspotter Report on Customs-related Commercial Fraud which was developed by national Customs experts as well as by representatives from WCO Regional Intelligence Liaison Offices (RILOs) and the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), with the financial support of Korea Customs.

The Report offers insight into new trends and fraud patterns, complementing traditional monitoring instruments. It is built on methodological triangulation, involving a range of qualitative and quantitative methodologies comprising scientific literature reviews, data collection and the compilation of expert opinions in a structured manner, based on the Trendspotter methodology originally developed by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) as a tool for drug monitoring.

It provides a classification of the three most significant types of commercial fraud based on WCO Member administrations’ experience. This ranking may help Customs prioritize their efforts. Additionally, it identifies a number of activities posing the greatest threat when it comes to commercial fraud. An important contribution is the capturing of elements that affect how fraudsters operate along with the identification of indicators pointing to suspicious activities. The Study Report also lists the best means of detection, highlights a range of good practices developed worldwide to fight fraud and makes recommendations. It is restricted to representatives of Customs and relevant law enforcement agencies.

The Report was launched during an event attended by 200 delegates from some 60 Customs administrations spanning the globe, together with representatives from the WCO RILOs and OLAF. The  Secretary General of the WCO, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, called on participants to “act quickly by spotting new trends based on a blend of Customs Enforcement Network (CEN) data, seizure data reported by Customs administrations and expert assessments”, adding that “I look forward to Customs’ active contribution to seizure data and cases following this launch event”. 

Participants from Customs administrations acknowledged the need to share relevant information with the WCO Secretariat and between themselves so as to improve risk assessment and trend-spotting, as well as the need to pool efforts, by leveraging synergies and enhancing collaboration, to combat commercial fraud more effectively.  

Mr Bianchi, Director B of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), welcomed the results of the study: “It is clear that the identification of typical customs fraud, in particular undervaluation and fraud in relation to e-commerce, is in line with OLAF’s findings. We welcome the recommendation to set up a Commercial Fraud Observatory and we are ready to share our expertise with the WCO. This initiative will enable the WCO to map the nature and size of new trends and will be beneficial to all actors fighting customs fraud.”

Download the Report

Global Trendspotter Report on Customs-related Commercial Fraud [restricted to WCO Members and relevant law enforcement agencies]

Other material related to commercial fraud