Cargo Security

Theft by Misrepresentation of Identity

Here’s a scenario. Friday afternoon, an unsuspecting broker gets a call on a load of grapes from California to Toronto from a trucker based in Iowa. This trucker has one truck and says he can do the load. He also has a Gmail address using the name of the trucker. Broker makes the deal, sends the contract, service confirmation and his packet. Carrier executes the contract and service confirmation and sends back his carrier packet. Deal done, broker knocks off for the day.

Later he gets an email letting him know the load has been picked up, ETA in Toronto Tuesday morning and the appointment is made. Tuesday morning comes and the load has failed to arrive. What happened. He calls the carrier and gets an answering machine. He writes to the Gmail address, no response. Eventually a claim arrives for the missing load of grapes to the tune of $60,000. What happened?

In reviewing the claim, he notes that the only ID provided is the license plate on the trailer, nothing on the driver or the plate on the tractor. That license plate checked out to a junked trailer in a salvage yard. Driver’s signature is difficult to make out. A claim is presented to the trucker at his address in Iowa. Trucker denies any knowledge of the load, says that is not his signature and his logs show he was not in California.

This trucker’s office is not attended regularly. He uses an answering machine and while he had gotten messages about this load, he knew he hadn’t hauled the load and reckoned it was a mistake. Thieves look for one truck operations and check the presence or rather non-presence of personnel attending the phone.

The answer in this theft is phone number spoofing. The thieves, probably in cahoots with the shipping location, spoofed the solo operator’s phone number and created a Gmail account to send and receive documents. To the unsuspecting broker, he never called back the carrier to confirm the ID. Always call back a new carrier on the number provided in the Safer system or in FMCSA records. Check inspections, no inspections, noload. Also, if a driver on the road calls, verify he is who he says he is. Run his license plate, it will find inspection records.

Most cargo thefts originate on Thursdays and Fridays and especially on log weekend. This gives the thieves plenty of time to fence the stolen goods. Commodities without serial numbers are especially vulnerable. Most cargo theft involves an insider with enough knowledge of the load. Give your shippers the license plate number for the tractor and have them photo copy the driver’s license.

Shippers, it is a best practice to tighten your security including photo ID and license plate numbers. Require your brokers to provide this information to you prior to loading.

Tim Taylor

 

 

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