Combating fraudulent cargo theft tactics

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Payment diversion fraud

Payment diversion fraud, also known as mandate fraud or business email compromise, is a major concern in the shipping and transport sector. Fraudsters hack into a firm's computer network, monitor emails, and spoof the genuine firm's email address to divert payments to their accounts. Vigilance and verifying payment requests over the phone are crucial preventive measures.

Theft by deception

Criminals are increasingly using fictitious carriers to steal cargo. They present themselves as legitimate truck companies, with qualified drivers, proper vehicles, and falsified documents, to gain access to cargo. Strong controls at warehouses and depots, verifying credentials before handing over cargo, are essential to mitigate this risk.

Exploiting freight exchange platforms

Freight exchange platforms, designed to reduce empty miles and increase efficiency, have become targets for fraudsters. They use these platforms to identify potential cargoes and pose as legitimate carriers to gain access. Thorough due diligence, verifying the carrier's online presence, and direct contact are necessary to prevent fraud.

Round-the-corner thefts

Round-the-corner thefts involve intercepting trucks on their way to delivery points. Fraudsters pose as staff and divert the cargo to a different location, often convincing drivers with fake paperwork. Driver training and vigilance, as well as verifying instructions with known contacts, can help mitigate this risk.

Social engineering and vishing

Fraudsters also employ social engineering techniques, such as vishing (voice phishing) to steal data and money. They may use spoofed phone numbers or disguise their voices to build trust and persuade victims to share sensitive information.

Preventive strategies

To combat fraudulent activity, stakeholders should:

  • Assess risks to their operations and those of subcontractors
  • Deliver awareness training to recognise known fraud strategies
  • Implement robust due diligence and management controls
  • Exercise caution with emails, attachments, and social media sharing
  • Report phishing attempts and suspicious activities

By prioritising prevention, awareness, and vigilance, supply chain stakeholders can better protect their businesses and cargo from fraudulent cargo theft tactics.

Mike Yarwood

TT Club

David Thompson

Signum Services