How to Avoid a Container Scam
Container scams are on the rise. Recently this has hit close to home. We were contacted by an individual that had paid for a deposit on a container and but never received the container. The invoice they received included our logo and the name of our company and our address. The phone number on the invoice was a non-working number but the victim was able to track us down and call our main office through a Google search. The scammer was on Facebook pretending to be us, taking money, and then never delivering the product. After obtaining a copy of the invoice used by the scammer we were able to see some red flags. We thought we would put together an updated checklist on how to avoid a container scam.
If you believe you have been scammed immediately contact your local law enforcement and your bank and provide them with as much information and detail as possible.
What to look for?
- Phone Numbers – Call them back! If it’s a scam most of the time the call won’t go through or they don’t even answer. If the call does go through, verify who you are speaking to. Is this the right company? Verify the person you are talking to works there. Companies will have a business landline, whether it’s a local number or a toll-free phone number. We also google phone numbers of callers that we suspect might be scammers and find the number has been previously reported as being fraudulent.
- Email Address – Most companies have emails with their name as the domain. All of our emails come from the domains of @duncantruckingltd.com or @dslleasing.com. Scammers have been known to use multiple emails during one transaction and the address has nothing to do with the company. For example, firstname.lastname@example.org Also, if there are multiple departments contacting you most businesses will copy everyone in the same email and their address will all be uniform.
- Invoices – Reputable companies send invoices on their company letterhead. You can see their logo, phone number, email address, and business address. On our invoices, we include the final price. We never send an Invoice for a set amount and then start tacking on more charges. It is common for scammers to have spelling errors including the name of the business. No legitimate Owner is going to allow the name of their business spelled wrong on any printed materials.
- Payment – DO NOT PAY VIA Facebook (or any social media), ZELLE, CASHAPP, or any similar app. They are able to hide behind false email accounts and phone numbers. Consequently, most banks will not refund money sent through these types of payment apps. Most of the time an upfront partial payment is required. Once they get their deposit payment they will more than likely vanish unless they think they can pull off getting more money out of the scam.
- Communication – We as a company do not sell our shipping containers through social media. We have customers that reach out via social media to begin the conversation but we never sell containers via messenger.
- Pricing – If it sounds too good to be true, it’s too good to be true! We all want to try and get the best deal. In the case of the individual that ended up losing money and reached out to us thinking we were the Seller the price on the scammer’s invoice was about 20% of current market pricing. Call other companies and compare pricing.
- Physical Address – Google Map their address. Are they verified in Google Maps? You might find that it’s a UPS store or maybe even another company entirely! It would be pretty hard to have a shipping container company in the middle of a mall or residential development!
- Photos – This one you have to be VERY careful. Anyone can take an image off the internet and send it to you. For instance, one thing to watch for is the background or surroundings. Is the picture at a random depot or does it look to be like a business’ container yard?
- Bank Information – Do not share your bank information. Scammers will try to get as much money as they can from you as quickly as they can. Be wary of aggressive sales tactics.
- In Person Visit – Ask to come over and look at the containers yourself. If they say yes then make an appointment to look at the containers before you purchase anything or fork out any money. Scammers will use the physical address of legitimate container businesses as a cover for their scam. We have been alerted by several prospective customers that our depot address is listed in scammer’s advertising.