What is container fraud?

Unfortunately, incidents of container fraud are rising with many individuals and companies paying for non-existent containers that are never delivered and, in fact, don’t even exist. Kenya has become a primary target.

There are many bogus companies on the internet, using digital advertising to lure unsuspecting people into paying over money for containers that never arrive. It’s important to be hyper aware of these scams and to investigate these companies thoroughly.

This situation is of great concern as these bogus companies will set up websites that look genuine, or they will hi-jack genuine company websites or they will clone a genuine company’s website – watch out for indicators such as a dash in the url or a .co.ke domain when the genuine company has a .com domain. Bogus companies often also spend a lot of money advertising on Google, Facebook and the like – it is their only operating expense, after all.

That being said, genuine container supply companies also ensure they have good, professional websites and also advertise in digital media. So how do you differentiate the good from the bad?

To this end, the Container Fraud Prevention website has been established, with the primary aim of protecting the public against container fraud and spreading awareness of the many methods used to trick people into buying non-existent or stolen containers.

You need to know if your supplier is genuine or a scammer. The problem is you have no way of finding out. Container Fraud Prevention offers a solution – the team searches out fraudsters and provides certification as to what companies are valid suppliers.

How to Avoid Container Fraud

Unfortunately, container fraud is rampant in East Africa and if you’re not careful you could get scammed. Here are some steps to avoid this:

  1. Investigate what companies are charging for containers in general. A significantly cheaper price should raise concerns.
  2. Don’t be bullied into a sale with limited-time offers or claims that “this is the last container at this price”.
  3. Only deal with container companies that are established and have a historical track record you can verify.
  4. Don’t rely on website reviews which can easily be fabricated. Rather check out third-party reviews like Google.
  5. No landline number on their website means that the “container supplier” has no physical presence.
  6. If they have an address on their website, don’t take it for granted that it’s genuine. Google Maps is your best friend to verify.
  7. You should call the seller. If they have a foreign accent this should raise the alarm. Some fraudsters operate from overseas without any East African presence.
  8. Check the container company’s website domain registration date at whois.com. If registered in recent months, treat them with suspicion.
  9. If you’re asked to confirm the bank account you’ll be using for payment, only mention the financial institution. They could be buying time to open up an account to receive your payment.
  10. All legitimate local companies ask for full payment upfront. Usually, scammers ask for 50% payment upfront with the balance due on delivery of the container but they don’t deliver.