With the growing trend in converted shipping containers, container homes and long to short term refrigeration container options, there has been a radical increase in container fraud and scammers. These fraudsters create professional-looking websites that offer ideal containers at meagre prices.
Scammers often use “phishing” methods, impersonating reputable brands like Valley Containers, to mislead people. They trick customers in to revealing banking details and other private information to gain access to your accounts. These days, it’s not difficult to replicate an actual suppliers’ website.
They promise the desired product once a deposit or the full amount is paid into their untraceable account. As soon as the funds hit their account, they are virtually impossible to track down. The container industry is cash based, so buyers are expected to pay upfront.
Containers are generally bought and sold through large depots in mass quantities so, in essence, all a scammer needs is a website and phone number to start selling bogus containers. How do we stop this?
TOP TEN TIPS TO AVOID CONTAINER FRAUD
The rise of container fraud, specifically in South Africa, led to a group of container industry leaders establishing a website to verify legitimate container companies and provide a platform to report fraudsters.
- Your first step in buying containers is research. Shop around, investigate sellers and check reviews or testimonials. Once you’ve chosen a few companies you wish to engage with, verify their legitimacy on the Container Fraud Prevention website [https://www.containerfraud.co.za/].
- The old saying goes, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Try to deal with companies that have been operating for a while and you can track their history.
- When checking testimonials, don’t rely on their website’s references, these are easy to fake. Check Facebook, LinkedIn and other social sites. If possible, ask for contactable references.
- In an ideal world, you would meet with the seller and inspect the container before purchase. Most reputable companies like, Valley Containers, have branches throughout South Africa for this purpose.
- Don’t allow the seller to push you to purchase immediately without viewing or delay as it’s the “last” container. It’s a tactic to avoid the verification processes and to convince you that you are losing out on a deal.
- Call the seller, and if there is a distinctly foreign accent behind a supplier situated in South Africa for example, this should raise some concern. Many fraudsters operate in other countries and make it impossible for you to track them.
- Contact container associations like CTIA [www.containa.org], COA [www.containerownersassociation.org] and Container Fraud Prevention [https://www.containerfraud.co.za/] to see if the company is registered. A reputable and reliable company will register with a container fraud prevention association. If not, they are likely untrustworthy, and you’re gambling with your own money.
- Check the supplied contact information on the website: Is there a landline contact number? Can you find the company on google maps from the address provided?
- Check when their website was created on domain search portals, if it has only been operating for a couple of weeks or months, be cautious.
- When it comes to payments, legitimate companies should be able to provide you with the required documents to facilitate the transaction. If in doubt, ask for the following documentation before making payment:
• Letter of Good Standing (VAT)
• Banking Details Confirmation Letter that matches the invoice details.
• Formal quotes and invoices
• Company Vat Registration Number
Keep in mind that companies may not want to expose themselves due to fraud, but some form of company identification should always be offered. Use the pricing guide on the Container Fraud Prevention website to ensure you’re not misled with incredible discounts.
Valley Container has, over the past decade, built solid, trusting relationships, and today is the definitive leader in container rentals and sales in the Southern Cape, North West, Gauteng and Eastern Cape and fast expanding across the country and the rest of Africa. For reliable, economical and “fraudulent-free” service and products, contact us today for more information and a free quote.