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Fighting Crime in Supply Chain

Freight crime on the up as gangs become more tech-savvy - The Loadstar

Internet-enabled crime and insider involvement are creating easier conditions for theft and fraud in supply chains, as criminal gangs get more tech-savvy. 

Risk management industry association, TAPA, warned this week: “Crime is spreading, losses are soaring, risks are escalating and the majority of logistics providers are still ignoring solutions readily available.” 

It said that between 1 January and 30 September last year, there were 49,366 criminal attacks on supply chains across 67 countries, resulting in estimated losses of $600m. 

The TT Club’s MD of loss prevention, Mike Yarwood, explained that, while goods linked to freight crime could be “anything and everything”, targeted goods were often adjacent to the market. 

For example, the Covid era saw a rise in the theft of hand gel and wipes, while electronics, alcohol and tobacco are always popular targets, he said. 

TAPA said: “One of the big crime trends of 2023 was a significant rise in theft of fuel, driven by higher fuel costs and cost of living pressures, particularly in Europe. We received reports of 1,526 incidents across 27 countries.” 

Freight crime can take place anywhere in the supply chain, it added. For example, a fake trucking company could collect cargo from a legitimate shipper, or a fake freight forwarder could employ a legitimate haulage company to pick up from a legitimate shipper, then take the cargo to any location. 

Crime in the digital sphere of supply chains and cybercrime itself are rising concerns. Big players like DP World, DNV and Expeditors all faced large scale cyber-attacks last year. 

TT Club logistics risk manager Joshua Finch added that cybercrime and freight crime “are not mutually exclusive”. 

He told The Loadstar: “What we’ve seen a lot is where a criminal organisation will impersonate a legitimate carrier. They will hack into a haulage firm or carrier’s business and copy documents to convincingly impersonate that firm.” 

Mr Yarwood added: “The fact that so many records are now electronic and on a server somewhere means they are accessible to someone who knows how to get at them, something we consider generally as ‘internet-enabled crime’.” 

TAPA warned that constant commercial pressures, poor employee training, lack of security awareness, reduced security budgets, staff shortages, poor employee and candidate vetting, outsourcing, lack of due diligence and insufficient secure parking were all major factors in allowing freight crime to happen. 

Mr Yarwood urged the industry to stay vigilant and not get complacent. He said: “It wouldn’t surprise me if this time next year we are seeing a high frequency of something entirely different; high levels of vigilance by logistics operators should create a more challenging environment for the criminals. 

“On the risk mitigation side, around due diligence, a lot is process-driven – strategies that all companies in the supply chain can implement at little cost.” 

He suggested: “Checking who you’re subcontracting the load to, checking who the driver is and their background and shielding those who don’t need to know from what could be really valuable information in the wrong hands.”  

To read it in The Loadstar: click here