In the shipping container sales market, frauds and scams are increasingly being reported – with criminals offering containers, taking money “in advance”, failing to deliver the order, and then disappearing.
The surge in container sales scams is due to:
- Unprecedented demand for shipping containers
- Huge increase in shipping container prices
- Covid restrictions that have moved many interactions to online only
Constore, a shipping container sales company based in New Zealand, had its website content duplicated twice by scammers. The company became aware of these scam sites when potential buyers questioned why their content and photos appeared on other websites. Fake websites were being used in Australia with content from this legitimate NZ company.
Global trade is dependent on shipping containers: they hold virtually every good that circulates around the world. But lately, those all-important containers are in short supply in the places where they’re needed most. Consequently, prices for containers have more than tripled post-Covid. Before ordering a shipping container from a company, always do your research first. It may be tempting to act quickly to secure one, but it’s not worth the risk of paying before you’ve verified whether the company is legit.
There have been many reports of people making payments to companies claiming to be shipping container sellers, but then discovering they are frauds after not receiving delivery or a refund. Since they are carbon copies of authentic sites, the websites look real.
How can you prevent yourself from falling victim to this crime? To protect your money, perform these quick checks.
- Search online for container scams. There are dedicated websites that publish the domain names of fraudulent websites.
- Check how long the website address has been operational by using whois.com/whois. While legitimate websites are still being set up, it sends a red flag if the website has only been launched post the Covid19 pandemic.
- Search for the business on the Company’s Office website. If this is in fact a registered business, they will be found there. Check the name of the company registered against the name on the website.
- Some scammers use Trade Association logos. Go to the trade association website, and check to see if that company is a member of them.
- Look up the office address or phone numbers published online. Are they copying someone else’s information?
- Do they have a Google My Business listing? Google verifies the physical addresses of businesses with a GMB listing. An absence of one could also indicate a fake or unreal address.
- Do they have reviews? Having a lot of 5-star reviews in a short period of time is suspicious, especially if there is no content. Take a look at the reviews. Do they sound legitimate? Are they specific or do they make general statements like, “Great trade!”. Reviews gathered over a period of time are a good sign, especially if they have content.
- Call another shipping container sales company. Ask them for a quote and see if they have heard of this company.
- Is the price too good to be true? Because container sales prices are at an all-time high, you are unlikely to find genuine discounts. Genuine companies would never discount their containers when they can easily get top dollar for them. In addition, it is a challenge to secure containers; therefore, it wouldn’t make sense to discount what stock they have.
Sadly, the recent boom in shipping container prices and unprecedented demand has brought about this latest round of fraud. The shortage of shipping containers for sale is yet another symptom of the havoc the pandemic has wrought on international supply chains.
This situation is made worse by the fact that hard-working business owners desperate to move their goods are being taken advantage of. You too could fall victim to this latest scam if you purchase a shipping container from a fake company. Make sure you verify the legitimacy of the company you are buying from, otherwise you could lose thousands of dollars.