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Is that Certificate of Origin for real?

Certificate of Origin
Chamber of Commerce
Trade Tariffs
paper fraud
Certificate of Origin Online Verification
  fake co header

By Brian Smith, Managing Director, essCert

Certificates of Origin (COs) are critical documents in international trade. Numerous Government Authorities around the world use these Certificates to establish tariff rates on imported goods. COs also enable Exporters to help their Buyers establish accurate (and often lower) tariffs on their products.

But not everything is always as it seems. It is not uncommon for either completely fraudulent, or altered, Certificates to be presented to importers abroad. On several occasions, as discussed below, it is Importers themselves that perpetrate the fraud. This is where essCert comes in and helps protect all parties who may be at risk.

The two core aspects to protect against are complete fraud and alteration.

Complete Fraud:

Conventional software such as Word or Photoshop is often used by fraudsters looking to create a Certificate of Origin which duplicates a Chamber’s Certificate. Only recently, fraudulent Certificates of Origin were created in Germany to hide illegal antiquities trading. A key measure Chambers can take to protect both themselves as well as legitimate buyers from fraud is to ensure secure and centralized visibility alongside accurate record-keeping. Today, our essCert online Certification solution archives and logs all relevant information securely, in the event of a required Customs or INTERPOL audit/investigation. In cases where attempts are made to entirely fabricate a Certificate of Origin from an essCert Chamber, our online CO Verification Tool will instantly demonstrate that no such Certificate exists.


An essCert Chamber and its Exporter were recently the fraud targets of an unscrupulous importer abroad. The Certificate of Origin had been issued by the Chamber showing origin of goods as China and Poland. By the time the Certificate reached overseas customs, “China” had been eliminated from the Certificate by an expert document forger. The Importer had hoped to take advantage of Customs duties in their country that were extremely low for EU origin (Poland in this case), but high for goods from China. At first, Customs blamed the Exporter, threatening to suspend their ability to export goods to that country (which represented € millions sales for the company). However, Customs was able to verify – through the essCert online verification tool – that the Certificate as-issued did indeed show part origin from China. Subsequently, our Export customer was instantly found to be an innocent target. In this case, the verification tool allowed an Exporter to continue doing business in a crucial market, while the Importer was left with a lot of explaining to their Customs Authorities!

If you’re an Exporter or Forwarder looking to mitigate fraud risks and ensure security in your Certificate of Origin processes, click here to register for essCert.

If you’re a Chamber of Commerce looking to provide secure, auditable & streamlined Certification for your members, contact us today so we can assist you and your members in staying protected from fraud.  


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