Learn to identify fraud when purchasing maritime containers

Acquiring a maritime container and determining where to make the purchase is a crucial decision that requires careful thought and prompt action. Rushing into it could put your entire investment at risk, especially if you become a victim of fraud. In recent years, instances of fraud and scams related to container purchases have not only increased but have also become more diverse. Various countries have online platforms dedicated to reporting such crimes and the individuals or companies behind them.

One such platform is Ship Container Scams, based in the UK, which exposes companies supposedly selling maritime containers. For example, a UK-based company called Alpha Containers was active in advertising container sales. They offered an exceptionally competitive price for the local market, attracting numerous buyers who promptly contacted them via the provided contact number, only to receive no response.

This marked the beginning of the fraud. Days later, prospective customers would receive calls from an executive at Alpha Containers, offering the exact product they wanted at an astonishingly lower price than any competitor. After agreeing to the deal, they would be given an account number for payment and promised a delivery date. Unfortunately, that promised day never arrived.

In Mexico, several websites — https://containerdelnorte.com/, https://ecexco.com/, www.containermexico.com, and https://www.mexicana-conteneres.com/conteneres — were identified as fraudulent copies of another company. Through these portals, cybercriminals committed frauds similar to those of Alpha Containers.
While concrete figures revealing the scale of this fraud are scarce, a specialized logistics portal named BizCommunity in South Africa reports that companies in the country lose approximately $20,000 USD per day due to fraudulent maritime container purchases, totaling over $7.5 million USD annually. Moreover, it has been disclosed that such scams are on the rise in Australia, Great Britain, and Canada.

common signs of fraud 

According to experts from BizCommunity and the global Container Association, several indicators suggest potential fraud when purchasing a maritime container:

  • Unusually Low Prices: Fraudulent suppliers often entice customers with remarkably low prices, providing minimal information.
  • Vague Website Content: Fraudulent websites typically have simplistic layouts and superficial information, often mimicking legitimate sites with slight variations.
  • Incomplete Contact Details: Scammers provide limited contact information, such as only a mobile number or email, while avoiding fixed office addresses or landline numbers.
  • Lack of ownership proof: They are hesitant to provide purchase certificates or customs clearance documentation. Requests for photographs depicting container condition or real-time location videos are typically ignored.

how to avoid fraud

To avoid falling victim to such scams, the Container Fraud Prevention page recommends the following precautions when purchasing a container:

  • Verify Legitimacy: Verify the legitimacy of the website and the existence of the company, preferably by checking if it's a member of a global association of maritime container producers.
  • Consult Fraud Reporting Platforms: Consult platforms dedicated to reporting fraud to ensure there are no complaints against your potential supplier.
  • Exercise Caution with Discounts: Exercise caution with significant discounts; if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Insist on receiving an invoice: Insist on receiving an invoice before making any payment, ensuring that the invoicing company's tax ID is legitimate and that the payment account bears their name.
  • Inspect Containers Personally: Whenever possible, visit or request a visit to the supplier's warehouse to inspect the containers firsthand.
  • Confirm Company Details: Confirm the company's address and its physical existence at the provided location.
  • Protect Sensitive Information: Avoid sharing personal or banking information prematurely; be wary of suppliers requesting sensitive data at the outset.

different types of fraud 

Regrettably, container fraud manifests in various forms, with fraudsters continuously devising new methods to deceive customers. Awareness of these tactics is crucial in detecting potential scams:

  • Fake Social Media Pages: Scammers frequently create bogus Facebook pages or websites to attract unsuspecting customers.
  • Business Name Impersonation: Some fraudsters adopt established business names to confuse customers familiar with those brands.
  • Phishing Emails: These emails aim to extract sensitive information online, often masquerading as container discount offers or promotions.
  • Sales of Containers in Poor Condition: Scammers may offer containers in substandard condition at enticing prices, exploiting customers' urgency.
  • Watch for Additional Charges: Any unexpected charges on the bill should raise red flags; all costs should be agreed upon beforehand to avoid unauthorized additions.
Before purchasing a maritime container for safe merchandise transportation, ensure it complies with Mexican and international regulations to prevent any legal issues. Seek out certified and reputable providers. For further guidance or information, consider reaching out to a Dracontainers advisor.


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