Unfortunately, there is no sector that is 100% free from the risk of scams, including the freight transport industry.

In this regard, one of the areas that generates significant concern among various logistics stakeholders involved in transporting goods from one place to another is related to shipping containers.

That’s why at Boxxport, we wanted to dedicate a complete article to list the different types of scams involving shipping containers and to provide details on how to avoid them, whether you are considering buying a container or planning to rent one.

Types of shipping container scams

The first step to avoid falling victim to any scam is to be aware of the different ways in which they typically occur. Let’s take a look at them below.

Ghost Containers

In this type of scam, sellers offer containers that don’t actually exist. Often, they provide photos and detailed descriptions to deceive the buyer. They may even exchange emails and calls with supposed sellers who are actually scammers. Once the payment is made, the supposed seller disappears, leaving the buyer without the container and without their money.

Containers in Poor Condition

However, the most common scam involves some sellers selling containers with hidden or undisclosed damages. These damages can include corrosion, leaks, or structural defects that are only discovered after the purchase.

👉 Our recommendations for container Stuffing Practices to Avoid Cargo Damages

False Documentation

In these scams, fraudulent documents are used to legitimize the sale of the container. This can include fake ownership titles, invented inspection certificates, and other documents that initially appeared to be legitimate when first presented.

Hidden Charges

It also often happens that the seller does not inform the buyer of the existence of additional costs that the buyer will only learn about once the purchase is formalized. These costs can range from transportation fees to taxes or maintenance costs that were never mentioned during the container buying process.

Supposed Bargains

It is not uncommon to come across ads from individuals or companies of questionable reputation selling containers at surprisingly low prices. The displayed price may be the base price, and it may increase through additional charges (handling fees, transportation, etc.) or conditions that make it much more expensive than it initially appeared.

Intermediary Scams

In this case, intermediaries who supposedly have access to maritime containers at bargain prices end up charging exorbitant fees for their “service.” There have also been cases of supposed intermediaries selling containers to which they had no right.

Identity Theft

Here, scammers impersonate legitimate companies to sell containers. They use logos, names, and all sorts of data from real companies to deceive the buyer.

Sale of Stolen Containers

This type of scam involves the sale of containers that have been stolen and then altered to appear new. The buyer, unknowingly, becomes the possessor of stolen goods, which can lead to legal issues.

How to Avoid Shipping Container Investment Scams

To prevent falling victim to scams when buying maritime containers, it is important to follow recommendations like these:

  1. Thorough Supplier Research

Before engaging in any transaction, thoroughly research the shipping container supplier. Check customer reviews on specialized portals that rate business projects, and if deemed necessary, contact some of the signatories. A legitimate company will have a solid and transparent online presence, with various details that help identify it as such.

  1. Verify Supplier Legitimacy

Likewise, we recommend verifying their legitimacy by checking their business license and tax identification number. Legitimate companies will have no problem providing this information.

  1. Physical Inspection of Containers

Whenever possible, inspect the container in person. This allows you to verify its condition and confirm that it matches the description provided by the seller.

  1. Establish Clear and Detailed Contracts

A clear and detailed contract is the best defense against potential shipping container scams. Ensure that all conditions, costs, and specifications are clearly defined in the contract.

  1. Use Third-party Inspection Services

If you want to minimize any risk, consider using a third-party inspection service. These professionals can assess the container’s condition and confirm its compliance with current standards and regulations.

  1. Verify Documentation

In addition to inspectors, you can also involve lawyers to ensure that all documentation related to the purchase is legitimate, including invoices, ownership certificates, shipping documents, etc.

  1. Use Secure Payment Services

If all the above confirms that it is a reliable supplier, there should be no problem proceeding with the acquisition of the maritime container. Nevertheless, you can further protect yourself by using payment methods that offer buyer protection, such as secure bank transfers or online payment platforms with guarantees.

  1. Be Cautious of Offers That Seem Too Good to Be True

As a general rule, we advise against being swayed by excessively low prices, as this is often a major red flag for potential shipping container scams.

  1. Consult with Experts

If you know someone who has bought or rented maritime containers before, it doesn’t hurt to ask for their advice and have them alert you to any warning signs you may have overlooked.

  1. Maintain Records and Communications with the Seller

Keep records of all interactions you have with the seller, including emails, text messages, and phone conversations. This documentation can be crucial if any issues arise.

  1. Verify Container Existence

Ensure that the container you plan to purchase actually exists. Request recent photos, documentation confirming ownership and condition, and cross-check its unique identification number.

  1. Consider Cargo Insurance

Consider the option of purchasing cargo insurance. This will provide an additional layer of protection, covering any loss or damage during the container’s transport.

👉 You may be interested in: What types of shipping insurance exist and what to look out for?

Purchase Your Container Securely with Boxxport

There’s nothing like entrusting your container buying or renting needs to an expert and experienced company to eliminate any potential risks.

That’s where Boxxport comes in. The world’s largest online container trading platform, relied upon daily by hundreds of buyers and sellers from around the globe. Its success is built on:

  • Price Transparency: Boxxport offers clear prices with no hidden fees.
  • Supplier Verification: All suppliers on the Boxxport platform are verified.
  • Third-party Inspection: Boxxport provides the option for third-party inspections to ensure container quality.
  • Transparent Documentation: All transaction-related documents are accessible and verifiable.
  • Secure Payment Methods: The platform uses secure and verifiable payment methods.
  • Expert Guidance: Boxxport has a team of experts who can guide you through the process, offering valuable advice to prevent scams.

If you’re looking for a 100% reliable maritime container trading platform, trust Boxxport.