We have been contacted by a number of small Irish food manufacturers that have been approached by an Israeli company called “Norland” or “Norland Systems”. Norland – apparently a bona-fide Israeli company – then offers to import fairly large quantities of the Irish company’s products to Israel, on condition that the Irish company pay an upfront “importation fee” for “registration” of such products with the Israeli authorities.
Is it a scam? Well, there is no way of knowing for sure and we are certainly not saying that it is. However, there are a number of unsettling indicators:
- While importation of foodstuffs into Israel needs to be registered with the Ministry of Health, the legal responsibility for doing so is on the importer (not the exporter). In practice, it would be be highly unusual for an Israeli importer to charge importation and registration fees to the manufacturer/exporter – moreover, it would be unheard of for a such importer to demand importation/registration fees in an upfront payment.
- There is very little information available on “Norland Systems” or its directors in either trade and public sources. It is unclear who the management of the company are and, at the very least, they appear to have no track record in this industry. The company may or may not have any actual link to Israel – as in Ireland, it is fairly easy for non-Israelis to incorporate an Israeli company as a front for their activities.
- The company has a poor website which is unrepresentative of other Israeli companies in this industry. Israel has an advanced and competitive import/export sector.
- As ever, if it’s too good to be true – it probably is! Keep your wits about you, fully investigate new distributors, beware demands for upfront payments and never let yourself be pushed into commercial contracts you do not properly understand. If in doubt – seek the advice of a reputable lawyer.