Shipping Container Scams
A shipping container scam usually involves a victim purchasing (non-existent) containers from a fake shipping container company, and being paid, for a short period of time. It is unfortunately incredibly common in Hong Kong, and the fraudsters operate this type of scam simply like a Ponzi scheme involving shipping containers.
If any of the scenarios described below sound familiar, it is very likely that you have been a victim of fraud and should take immediate action to avoid incurring additional losses. You can read our Guide on Cyber Fraud and Recovery in Hong Kong, which we hope will allow you to take the necessary steps before it is too late.
How Do Shipping Container Scams Work?
This type of scam is usually performed by a team of fraudsters posing as salesmen, accountants, and customer service support staff.
Purchasing Containers that Do Not Exist
Victims are lured into purchasing containers that do not exist. The victims are often given by the fraudsters completely fabricated information about the containers that they think they have purchased. In this regard, it should be noted that all real manufacturers of containers are required to assign a BIC (Bureau International des Containers et du Transport Intermodal) code (aka a serial number) after a container is manufactured. BIC Codes can be verified on this website. If your container's code is not recognized on this website, it is very likely that your container does not in fact exist.
At the very beginning, a victim will often receive, on schedule, the monthly payments from the fake shipping container company and those will last only a short while until the payments stops and the victim is left chasing the money.
After a while, the fake shipping container company will stop answering emails and will be dodging your calls. From time to time, the victim might be told that their containers are in the process of being sold, or some excuse is invented to explain the delay.
Keep a Record of Everything
Anything connected to the scam, keep a record of it. The police often relies on the chat records, telephone number, the screenshots of the website, and documents sent during the course of the scam to build their case against the fraudsters.
Report to the Police only the Relevant Parts
Very often, we see police reports that have been filed by clients that are incomplete; they focus on all the wrong things that not particularly relevant to your case. We have prepared a guide on how to file an online report with the Hong Kong Police.
Time is of the Essence
It is important not to waste time and make sure that the scam is reported immediately to the relevant authority.
If you have additional questions which are not addressed here or wish to schedule an appointment to discuss your case, please contact us by telephone on +852 2176 4777 or by email at [email protected].