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Smackover Company Sues for $2.5M After ScamLock Icon

2 min read

A Smackover company is suing one of its customers over a $2.5 million unpaid bill for petroleum products. The problem is, that customer allegedly already paid that amount — to a hacker.

The messy case is spelled out in a lawsuit filed in federal court in El Dorado last month by Four R Marketing LLC against Maxum Oil Service de Panama S.A. of Panama.

Four R is a manufacturer and marketer of base oils and waxes and is one of Arkansas’ largest private companies with $170.9 million in revenue in 2023.

Maxum Oil’s services include diesel sales, transportation and blending. It is a 100% wholly owned subsidiary of Belle Chasse Marine Transportation of Harahan, Louisiana.

In April 2023, Four R sent Maxum Oil an invoice for $2.7 million for products it had sent. The bill was due on May 24, 2023.

The dispute can be traced to around May 8, 2023, when a “hacker accessed the email account of Four R’s” supply and distribution manager, according to the lawsuit filed by William A. Waddell Jr. of Friday Eldredge & Clark’s Little Rock office.

The hacker then emailed Maxum Oil’s import/export supervisor, saying that Four R needed to update its bank account information. The hacker, pretending to be Four R’s manager, emailed Maxum Oil with new bank account information for Four R.

The hacker then sent multiple emails to Maxum Oil asking when it could expect the company to pay the $2.7 million invoice.

On May 17, 2023, “without seeking instructions or confirmation from Four R’s principals or executives,” Maxum Oil transferred $2.7 million to the hacker’s Citibank account, the lawsuit said.

Unaware of the scam, Four R began asking Maxum Oil when it could expect payment on the invoice. It wasn’t until June 2, 2023, that Maxum Oil said that it had paid the bill on May 17, 2023, by sending the money to the Citibank account, the lawsuit said.

The next day, Four R reported the incident to the FBI.

In the following weeks, Four R said it repeatedly asked for help in recovering the money.

“Maxum Oil’s responses to these requests were frequently delayed, intermittent, and equivocal,” the suit said.

But in April 2024, Maxum Oil paid Four R about $232,000, which Maxum Oil and Belle Chasse Marine “claimed represented a portion” of the wire transfer returned to Maxum Oil as part of its efforts to recover the money.

Four R filed the lawsuit last month to recover the $2.5 million left for the unpaid invoice and has alleged breach of contract and negligence and gross negligence for negligently accepting the hackers’ bank account change instructions without any investigation or confirming the accuracy of the changes without checking with Four R.

Maxum Oil had not filed a response to the lawsuit as of early Wednesday morning. The company didn’t return a message for comment.

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