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Theft by deception

Cargo crime is an issue that deserves prime time attention. It could be costing our industry up to $5 billion annually, although that's just an estimate because until recently disjointed interest has led to a lack of proper data in addition to...


Cargo crime is an issue that deserves prime time attention. It could be costing our industry up to $5 billion annually, although that’s just an estimate because until recently disjointed interest has led to a lack of proper data in addition to insufficient security and enforcement.

This is starting to change. The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) with the cooperation and financial support of a pretty long list of trucking, insurance and police parties hired Lansdowne Technologies to prepare what it termed a “threat and risk assessment” of cargo crime in Canada. The report bills itself as the first of its kind “to clearly explain cargo crime in Canada and to promote awareness of the issues and challenges facing Canada in coming to grips with the problem of cargo crime.”
We think this is a smart move by the CTA. It’s time we fought back in an intelligent and well orchestrated manner. To show our support, we made cargo crime our cover story this month.

Most of the attention on cargo crime is focused on cargo theft. However, I want to draw your attention to another form of cargo crime that is cropping up and needs your attention when brokering freight: cargo fraud. Markel’s Rick Geller had an eye-opening presentation on cargo fraud at TransCore’s recent users’ conference.

As Geller pointed out, cargo fraud, or theft by deception as he called it, only works if the perpetrators can create the facade of a legitimate carrier ready to partner with you to move freight. But some are so good at creating that facade that unsuspecting trucking executives end up thanking them for taking the load off the dock.

This is a crime that has been made much easier by the rise of the Internet and how much business information is available on it and can be copied – from your company logos to necessary operating authorities. Geller said in one case even a fake Markel insurance certificate was produced by the perpetrator. The alarm bells only went off because the policy number was that used by a different insurance company.

Don’t expect much help from the police authorities, Geller warned. Cargo fraud is hard to track down and since it doesn’t tend to leave victims bleeding on the roadside, it’s not high priority for police. This is a battle you will have to fight on your own.

The good news is that vigilance does pay off. As Geller says, if you are getting a deal to move freight that seems to be too good to be true, look into it. Fraudulent carriers working the spot market tend to offer rates to move freight at a fraction of the going rate.

The documents produced to fake their legitimacy also don’t stand up to closer scrutiny. Company logos may be blurred, the numbers on the produced operating authorities won’t match with the actual government records, the company address may look funny if you double check it on GoogleMaps Streetview. In one case, the fraudulent carrier was giving a church as its address.

If one thing doesn’t look right, the company may be a fraud.To find out more ways to fight cargo fraud, see my blog on
www.trucknews.com for Geller’s 10 Best Practices for Brokering Freight.


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