The Strange Story of a Candy Hijacker

A NY Times story of fake email accounts, phantom truckers, supply-chain fraud, and one confused cargo freight broker stems from a shipment of candy. Here. Japanese snack box company, Bokksu, became a victim of fraud after shipping a box of Kit Kats to the U.S., in hopes of making a huge profit.

Cargo freight broker, Shane Black, was dealt with an impossible task in trying to organize these shipments to be delivered to Bokksu’s warehouse. This is one story on the effects of strategic cargo theft and how it can happen anywhere.

 Danny Taing is the founder of Bokksu, a New York company that sells Japanese snacks in subscription boxes. Taing purchased a shipment of $110,000 worth of rare, sought-after Kit Kats and expected to sell them for about $250,000 through Bokksu in the U.S. The Kit Kats were shipped to a temporary storage facility in California. Taing then hired a cargo freight broker named Shane Black, who would help facilitate the shipment from California to the Bokksu warehouse in New Jersey. As a freight broker, Black’s job is to locate drivers that will carry cargo – chickens to smartphones. After posting the job on a trucking board, similar to Craigslist, Black got an email (from a Gmail account) from a person named Tristan from HCH Trucking who accepted the job.

 All things seemed to be going smoothly, but when the shipment didn’t arrive in New Jersey as expected, Black contacted Tristan asking him if the shipment was intact in New Jersey. Tristan told him that one of the trucks had broken down. Black then reached out to HCH Trucking where they told him they had never heard of Tristan. Tristan replied shortly after admitting he was a scammer and that the shipments were in Los Angeles at Inland Empire Cold Storage and Anytime Crossdock. Black relieved that the shipments weren’t lost, found another driver named Manny. Little did Black know this was another scam, Manny did not answer again. Black also tried to release the other shipment from Inland, which they said was owned by an unrelated, fraudulent name. Bokksu fired Black and they decided to move on and forget about the Kit Kat shipments.

 Strategic cargo theft involves unconventional methods like the use of fraud and deceptive information intended to trick shippers, brokers and carriers to give the load to the thieves instead of the legitimate carrier. According to CargoNet, there were 582 thefts in the second quarter of 2023, a 57% increase from last year. The average value of these shipments totaled $44 million. The average shipment value per theft increased nearly $100,000 to $260,703. Here.Strategic theft is rising because it can happen anywhere, not just in heavily concentrated areas. The use of identity theft and double brokering allow for thieves to be effective. Scott Cornell, transportation lead and crime theft specialist at Travelers, states, “you can basically be anywhere and steal something anywhere.”

The incident with Bokksu highlights the widespread risk of organized theft in shipping and that it can happen anywhere at any time. The use of fake accounts, fake truckers, and deceit in the shipping process can result in millions of dollars in losses throughout the supply chain. 

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