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Who Is that Picking up YOUR Shipment?

Sean Trundy

Incidences of Identity-Theft Related Cargo Theft are on the rise

“To steal huge shipments of valuable cargo, thieves are turning to a deceptively simple tactic: They pose as truckers, load the freight onto their own tractor-trailers and drive away with it.”  - ROXANA HEGEMAN; ASSOCIATED PRESS


Most people wouldn’t make an immediate connection between identity theft and cargo theft.

When someone steals your identity, we typically imagine the criminal using the stolen information to try to get into your bank accounts, hijack your mobile phone services or apply for and use credit cards under your name. But, the truth is, a stolen identity can be used in many different and unexpected ways, often leaving a trail of chaos and trouble for the various different victims of the criminal behavior.

The focus of this article – e.g. “Cargo Theft Perpetrated via Identity Theft” is one of those unexpected, but very lucrative and growing areas where the rapid increase in identity data breaches have matched up with organized crime to produce a perfect storm of financial losses for the shipping and logistics industry.

From the AP story written by Hegeman:

Thieves assume the identity of a trucking company, often by reactivating a dormant Department of Transportation carrier number from a government website for as little as $300. That lets them pretend to be a long-established firm with a seemingly good safety record. The fraud often includes paperwork such as insurance policies, fake driver’s licenses, and other documents.

Then the con artists offer low bids to freight brokers who handle shipping for numerous companies. When the truckers show up at a company, everything seems legitimate. But once driven away, the goods are never seen again.

This method of cargo theft has become so ubiquitous, that it now has its own classification among investigators, insurance companies and shippers – “Fictitious Pickup”.

According to a study by CargoNet, an industry risk management group:

  • The average value of cargos stolen by fictitious pickup was $203,744 vs. $174,380 per incident for cargo thefts overall during the study period, a 17 percent differential.
  • The commodities most frequently targeted for fictitious pick-ups are foods and beverages, electronics products and metals.
  • Over half of fictitious pickups occur at the end of a week, on Thursdays and Fridays when the main concern of shippers and brokers is in meeting a delivery date and satisfying the customer.
  • Fifty-five percent of all reported fictitious pick-ups from occurred in California. Significant fictitious pick-up activity has also been reported in Florida, Texas and New Jersey.

CargoNet says they recorded 1,676 supply chain risk events across the United States and Canada in 2020, a 16% increase from the previous year.

Stopping ID related Cargo Fraud

There are many organizations actively involved in trying to reduce overall cargo theft. These range from international cargo and freight associations, to National Governmental entities, insurance companies, cargo risk management companies and even state and local governments and NGOs. Despite all these efforts, the value of cargo theft continues to increase, and the use of stolen identities as a means through which cargo is stolen is a particularly acute part of the problem.

As with so many other potential identity theft risks, there is a solution that vulnerable players in the freight and logistics industry can utilize to protect themselves. The bottom line is that – when a criminal is presenting himself at your facility or at a freight pick-up or drop off point, they are not going to be carrying their genuine ID. They are pretending to be someone they are not, and they will likely have documents to match that fake identity.

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Installing a system that can authenticate the driver license document they are using is a simple, low cost and effective manner in which to address this situation. Pursuing this strategy provides a number of immediate benefits:

  1. You can be sure that the person picking up the shipment is, in fact, the person they claim to be.
  2. If the person is presenting a fake/forged document, you will immediately be aware of this and will be able to take steps to address the situation.
  3. If the person is careless enough to use their genuine driver license while committing a felony, you will have a record of that authentication event, including – if you choose – images of the document. This record can be provided as evidence to investigators and prosecutors.

What’s in an ID Document?

Government issued ID-credential documents are designed to be secure. From the design of the graphics, to the materials chosen, the use of security printing techniques, inks that only appear in UV or infrared light, holograms, perforations, watermarks and the placement of encrypted digital data in various media on the document, the ability to authenticate documents is a highly refined area of specialty.


However, in the United States, alone, there are more than 1,100 different designs of currently-valid state issued identity documents. Despite the fact that these documents are typically highly secure, the simple fact is that no one person or group of people can ever be expected to be able to recognize and authenticate these diverse documents without the aid of a tool designed for the purpose.

FraudFighter is a leader in Identity Document Authentication. Our experience goes back more than two decades, and our list of clients is a who’s who of Fortune 500 banks, retailers, casinos, and government agencies.

Our PALIDIN™ automatic forensic ID authentication system offers a modular approach, with different options for the type of scanner used to collect ID document data and images. Our clients also have the option of using mobile tools that allow their people to use smart phones or tablets to perform ID document authentication in remote locations or other circumstances where a stationary desktop scan of the ID document is not an option.

Interested in learning more about PALIDIN? The FraudFighter team is here to help! We'd be happy to give a live demo of the PALIDIN solution and see how PALIDIN can fit your business' individual needs. Reach out to Yasin Shuman today to schedule a time to connect: yshuman@uveritech.com 

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