Stolen Freight: Looking into Frauds & Scams


If you’re in freight transportation, then stolen freight is an event you’ve likely experienced. Whether you’re a broker or carrier, being a victim of stolen cargo is one of your worst fears. Commodities include everything from electronics, pharmaceuticals, kitchen appliances, and even energy drinks.

How freight is stolen

There are a lot of different stolen freight methods along with ways that the stolen freight is then disseminated. Some of the most common scenarios include:

  • A registered motor carrier contracts to move a load and picks it up, but the load never reaches its intended destination.
    • One of the first warning signs a broker or shipper might take note of is that they aren’t receiving regular check calls from the carrier, or the carrier is completely unresponsive to numerous check calls.
    • A second warning sign is usually when the load does not arrive on time and with no communication from the carrier as to why.
  • The carrier hauling the load stops at a truck stop where the load is then stolen from the carrier. The truck might be unattended for as little as an hour which is all it takes for the truck and/or loaded trailer to be stolen. In some instances when given enough time, the thieves will transfer the load to their own trailer. In this scenario, the theft may go unnoticed for a longer period of time and maybe even up to delivery and the unloading point. Another common situation is when a loaded trailer is temporarily dropped off in an unsecured location for a period of time or to allow for maintenance to be done on the truck. When the carrier returns, the loaded trailer is gone.
  • Scammers claim to be from a reputable company and will use the identity of the company to book a load. The scammer will have access to a truck and a driver who is in on the scam. The driver will be sent to pick up the load and may have the company’s information added to the side of the truck (often on a removable door placard) to convince the shipper that they are legitimate. After pick up, the truck will disappear with the load. The scammers will often use the same company’s information several times before leaving it behind and stealing another company’s identity. This can also result in stolen identities of carriers whose driver information has been targeted and used as part of the scam.
How to prevent stolen freight 

Taking a few extra minutes to conduct some precautionary measures may save you from becoming a victim of a stolen load.

  1. If you’re a broker, make every effort to verify you’re dealing with a legitimate carrier, and/or an authorized representative of that carrier. Make sure the carrier’s contact information matches what is listed on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) and U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) websites. If it doesn’t, call the number listed on the company’s website to verify you’re working with an authorized representative of the carrier company.
  2. Contractually require that your carriers do not leave high-value freight left unattended, and if they have to, require that it be left in a secured area that is gated and insured (if available).
  3. Always check a carrier’s ratings and performance history using an Onboarding solution like the one offered by Truckstop.com. They help identify potential risks and display other pertinent information that should be a part of vetting a new carrier.
What to do if your freight is stolen
  1. Always use the information listed on the FMCSA’s website to contact the company/carrier that you’re contracting with to move the freight. If you suspect a load has been stolen, contact the company you booked the load with to determine if the load was stolen by the company’s driver, or if the trucking company appears to have been involved with the theft. It is possible that the carrier is a victim of stolen identity, so make sure you don’t jump to conclusions.
  2. If you are unable to contact the company or carrier, notify law enforcement immediately. If the load is considered stolen from the time it left the shipping yard, you should contact the local law enforcement where the freight originated. If the load was stolen from the carrier in transit, contact the law enforcement in the city where the freight was stolen. You should also contact the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of Transportation (DOT) from the region where the freight was stolen. When you contact law enforcement, provide as much detail as possible about the circumstances surrounding the theft. You also want to let them know whether the carrier was involved, if it appears to be a case of stolen identity, or if it was a random theft.
  3. Report the theft to Truckstop.com. If you believe the carrier was involved, file a CPR complaint for a stolen load, and send an email to security@truckstop.com. If you believe it was a case of identity theft and that the carrier whose information was used is not involved, or if the load was stolen from the carrier in transit, email security@truckstop.com with all the details and provide copies of all relevant paperwork.

If you have other suggestions or experiences that you would like to share, send us an email at security@truckstop.com.


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