New Articles

Safeguarding Supply Chains: Navigating the Surge in Fraud and Cargo Theft

global trade cargo fraud stolen goods

Safeguarding Supply Chains: Navigating the Surge in Fraud and Cargo Theft

This year, we continue to see an uptick in fraud and theft in the Supply Chain industry. This has been top of mind for every industry leader throughout the country and it’s crucial for companies to pay more attention to this from an operational standpoint. Shippers and carriers need to stay knowledgeable in order to stay ahead of any malicious disruptions to their freight. 

Read also: 2024 Brings More Nearshoring and Freight Fraud

We’ve all recently heard about numerous fraud and cargo theft stories throughout the country. There has been an uptick in fraudulent freight activity and it will continue into next year. We saw roughly a 50-55% minimum increase of fraud from Q2 2022 to Q2 2023. And, in some lanes, activity was up well into a 200% fraud increase. What we’re seeing now seems to be a very sophisticated approach to fraudulent activity that seems to also not be U.S.-based.

Not only does recent fraudulent activity in the industry include spoofing and tracking software, but also setting up fake domains for small and large carriers as well as fake domains for a third-party logistics company (3PL). Simply put, industry crimes are getting more and more complicated. Bad actors create fake domains for email purposes that look almost identical to an actual 3PL’s domain. Companies who do not take a second look will miss the small but important details and potentially fall victim to such crimes.

Bigger companies are getting better at spotting fraudulent activity but it’s the smaller “mom and pop” operators that need to be more vigilant. The small one-to-ten truck carriers may not have sophisticated cybersecurity practices in place to catch this kind of activity. That’s why they have to do their due diligence from where they’re getting a load every single time. They need to always confirm it’s a 3PL that they’ve worked with or it’s a reputable 3PL with freight that’s actually being managed by that same company. The small 3PLs that may only cater to warehousing, receiving, and cross-docking, are the ones that need to stay current and educated on recent market developments. They need to ensure that there are standard operating procedures already in place for every load.

Small carriers and 3PLs need safeguards in place to prevent an erroneous load from shippers. In turn, shippers need to play a crucial role in preventing fraudulent activities by conducting thorough due diligence on personnel and carriers at pickup and delivery locations. They need to be involved and conduct due diligence on the personnel at a dock, warehouse or distribution center. Due diligence could be as simple as physically walking to the appropriate area to confirm the carrier picking up the load is the same as it appears on the bill of lading. It’s very easy to sign a rate confirmation and send it without paying attention but those extra few moments are the differentiators between being safe and falling victim to load scammers.

Companies need to realize that it’s more beneficial and cost-effective to be proactive instead of reactive. Adopting a proactive approach to freight security is essential for mitigating risks and minimizing potential losses. This involves implementing stringent security protocols for every load and continuous training programs to educate employees about emerging fraud tactics. By investing in preventive measures, companies can effectively deter fraudulent activities and protect their assets. The recent increase of malicious activity highlights the importance of businesses being more vigilant and in-tune with market developments so that they can overcome incoming industry challenges head-on. 

As the year progresses, businesses must be proactive when it comes to addressing the growing challenges posed by fraud and cargo theft. By staying one step ahead, investing in robust security measures, and fostering a culture of accountability and awareness, industry players can effectively safeguard their operations and maintain the integrity of the supply chain.

Author Bio

Karl Fillhouer is the Vice President of Sales and Operations of Circle Logistics, a privately held third-party logistics company committed to delivering on three core promises to their customers: No Fail Service, Personalized Communication, and Innovative Solutions. Circle Logistics leverages its technology, industry experience, and employee ingenuity to develop industry-leading transportation solutions. For more information, visit


transfix fraud theft cargo global trade

Global Cargo Theft Trends

In the recently released Annual Cargo Theft Report 2023 by TT Club and BSI SCREEN Intelligence, high inflation emerges as a significant macroeconomic catalyst driving cargo crime patterns, particularly evidenced by the increase in theft of food and beverages.

For the fourth consecutive year, TT Club and BSI have collaborated to shed light on prevailing global cargo crime trends from the previous year. The report aims to raise awareness among stakeholders in supply chain security and offer mitigation strategies to address these persistent threats.

Tony Pelli, Practice Director at BSI, emphasizes the substantial impact of cargo theft, stating, “Cargo theft is a significant issue, resulting in substantial financial losses for companies each year and disrupting critical supply chains, ranging from pharmaceuticals to semiconductors.” Pelli underscores the importance of accurate and timely intelligence in combating this problem and identifying the most vulnerable locations and types of theft threatening global supply chains.

Mike Yarwood, Managing Director Loss Prevention at TT, elaborates on the evolving crime patterns, highlighting new fraudulent methodologies and a focus on both historical and current geographic risk factors. Yarwood emphasizes the importance of tightening security processes to address these emerging threats. Additionally, the report includes case studies that spotlight prevalent regional or country-specific risks.

The Annual Cargo Theft Report 2023 provides valuable insights into the shifting landscape of cargo theft, equipping stakeholders with the knowledge needed to enhance security measures and safeguard supply chains against evolving threats.

cargo ECS Weship tanker

Shipping Strategies for High-Value Cargo

Shipping cargo of any kind requires taking certain precautions to ensure the shipment arrives at its destination safely. Things get more complicated when high-value cargo is involved. Shipping cargo that includes unique pieces of art, fine jewelry, electronics, luxury apparel, pharmaceuticals, alcohol, and high-end food is riddled with even more risk. Any company can use a variety of shipping strategies for high-value cargo. The main aim, however, is always to completely eliminate the risk of damaging, losing, or anyone stealing the items. The strategies have to account for an optimal delivery route and provide security at each stage of shipping – transshipment, transport, and storage.

How does cargo theft happen?

Most logistics companies worth their salt are able to ensure their shipments of high-value cargo do not get lost or damaged by taking all of the necessary precautions. However, one risk that is getting increasingly harder to eliminate is that of theft. If the company’s capacity is tight, this might force them to work with carriers they don’t have longstanding relationships with. This can open up the door for sophisticated theft. People who do this know a lot about the luxury goods supply chain. They are able to obtain the right credentials, or at least look like they did.

If they don’t opt for fraud, they will opt for hijacking. Different territories around the world report different criminal patterns. Shipping companies have to toe the line of providing the best and most effective security strategies for the shipping of high-value cargo without their surcharges skyrocketing. Through careful planning, identifying problem areas, and mitigating risks, a company can develop successful shipping strategies for high-value cargo.


One of the simplest ways of eliminating the risk of theft when it comes to high-value cargo is to expedite the entire shipping process. The more quickly it happens, the fewer opportunities there are for something to go wrong. Picking the right timing can both help with the speediness of the delivery as well as further lowering the risks. For example, it is advisable to avoid the shipping of luxury items during weekends and holidays. The company should also plan the route meticulously. In turn, it should require the drivers to check in with the dispatcher at regular intervals as well as report any detours.

Expedited shipping requires a lot of careful planning and ensuring the security of the entire supply chain. Properly preparing the shipments for transit, monitoring the security measures, and ensuring visibility of the shipment throughout the process are all important strategies to ensure the safety of high-value cargo.

Building trust

Unfortunate incidents are more likely to happen when dealing with new partners companies don’t have sufficient experience with. Creating lasting business relationships means staying informed and involved in every part of the shipping process. It is one way to ensure your high-value cargo arrives at its destination safely at the allotted time. Building the trust between a company and its partners requires a lot of work on the ground. This includes regular visits to the facilities, educating the personnel about security threats and how to spot them, and learning about the language, infrastructure, and common practices of new countries they do business in.

Security measures

Shipping strategies for high-value cargo usually involve several different security measures. Some of the common combinations are using box trailers or anti-slash curtains, dedicated trucks, carefully selecting and training carriers, and having fixed parking instructions. It is also important to ensure that the shipment is monitored at all points of transport. Visibility means following a shipment from the pick up to its final destination. Some of the tools used for this include barcoding, RFID tags, and GPS trackers.

Another one of the great strategies for preventing theft is hiding the fact that the shipment is anything worth stealing. Checking the regulations and working within their confines can help you make the documentation as generic as possible. As much as they can, shippers try to use generic terms or code instead of listing specific information about the shipper and consignee. This is particularly important to apply to the description of the high-value cargo.

Furthermore, it might even be a good idea to limit access to sensitive information within the shipping company itself. It is also important to require a sign-off of count and condition whenever the shipment changes hands.


Neal Samson is a freelance writer with extensive working experience in the logistics industry. He mostly writes articles for companies like Tik Tok Moving and Storage and covers a variety of different topics related to logistics, shipping, and moving.


BSI Supply Chain Services and Solutions and leading international transport and logistics insurer TT Club recently launched their first joint 2018 Semi-Annual Global Cargo Theft Intelligence and Advisory Report.

Bringing together threat and intelligence data from BSI’s supply chain security country risk intelligence tool SCREEN and TT Club’s insurance risk management and loss prevention insights, the first edition reveals violent truck hijackings account for 24 percent of cargo theft incidents globally. Additionally, the report provides a detailed Regional Overview spotlighting cargo theft trends in China and India.

The food and beverage sector is the most targeted (at 27 percent). Consumer products and hi-tech electronics industries also suffer high rates of cargo theft. Warehousing is the second most vulnerable target at 19 percent. Transport by road is the most often targeted mode for cargo crime across the globe, at a whopping 75 percent. Warehousing is the second most vulnerable target at 19 percent.

The report includes several pieces of loss prevention advice to counter the identified threats. Download it here.