Identity theft has traditionally involved stealing the identifying information of a person. I repeat — a person.
Thanks to ever-improving technology, the definition of identity theft has now been expanded to include the hijacking of the identifying information of a company.
Within this broad definition of identity theft is a category of crime called fictitious pickup. This basically involves picking up a load of cargo under false pretenses.
The load was meant to be hauled by another carrier, but a different alleged delivery provider comes by instead and steals the merchandise.
Loads to be delivered
Usually the thieves get the information they need from load boards, websites where shipping brokers post loads that need to be delivered.
Contents of the loads are not usually listed. However, thieves that are familiar with the trucking industry can often tell what they are dealing with by interpreting the information available to them, such as insurance requirements, how many drivers are needed and where the loads are to be picked up and taken to.
Certain neighborhoods and areas are associated with certain industries, food or technology, for instance.
Armed with this knowledge, thieves can pretend to be something they are not and pick up the cargo. Or they can bid on the job as would a legitimate business.
Either way, they load up and are never heard from again.
Speed is not always an urgent factor either. It can sometimes take days before the parties involved realize a theft has occurred.
Food is a hot item
A common reason why the crooks would need to hurry is if they swiped a load of perishable goods. Food is a hot item among thieves. Produce, meat products, seafood, and frozen food are hard to trace and can be easily sold to unscrupulous distributors and purveyors.
Another target is beverages, alcoholic and otherwise. Easy to sell and like food, once it is consumed the evidence is gone.
Makes you wonder if the legitimate companies that are getting ripped off can also make use of technology to thwart the tech-savvy thieves.
What about concealing a small, inexpensive tracking device in every load of cargo scheduled for pickup? It might make the job of law enforcement a little bit easier.
What can consumers do? Make sure the booze your local bartender pours comes from a legitimate source. Same goes for the steaks and seafood in a restaurant.