Recently, we’re seeing an uptick in reports of scammers double brokering under a stolen company name, and running off without paying carriers. It has many wondering how they can make sure they aren’t the next victim. With new layers of impersonation, phishing, and forgery adding to the complexity of these schemes, it can all be pretty confusing.
There’s really a simple way to avoid this headache: compliance and due diligence.
Sure, it doesn’t sound too exciting, but the best thing you can do to protect yourself is to set up strong policies and procedures for engaging with potential clients and make sure you stick to them.
Well, what does compliance even look like? And what happens if you fail to follow through? Let’s read the stories of Hasty Harry and Careful Carl.
It’s a Friday morning and Hasty Harry is searching the load board for some profitable freight to move but not having much luck. He hears the chime of his laptop alerting him to an incoming email and rushes to open it.
He skims through the message from email@example.com and sees they need a load moved from Davenport to Kansas City for around $4,000. “Wow, that’s an above-market rate, I better move on this fast,” Hasty Harry thinks before sending his quick reply.
Right away he gets another email with a rate confirmation attached. He opens the files and checks that the amount agreed is there before signing and returning a copy. With the rate confirmation in hand, he sends his driver to Davenport to pick up the load.
Fast forward and the driver has made the delivery. He calls to let Hasty Harry know he’s been getting a lot of texts and calls from RealBob about the POD. They go ahead and text a screenshot of the POD to RealBob.
What happens next is a pain for Hasty Harry. He tries to get a mailing address from RealBob, but he’s no longer answering their calls or messages. Hasty Harry runs a Google search for Lake Wish Logistics and finds a phone number with a different area code. He calls that number, but they have no idea what he’s talking about. They’ve never had a load like that. The folks at Lake Wish also told him that emails from their company all end with @lakewishlogistics.com.
Hasty Harry had been had. He’s got an unpaid load and a very angry driver. The real Lake Wish is saying it’s not their problem. What could he have done to prevent this? Let’s check in with Careful Carl.
Careful Carl got an email from the same company that morning. Something about the email address felt off, but Carl wasn’t quite sure why. He continued reading about the load and rate.
“Why is that number so high? Weird.” he thinks.
Even if the red flags weren’t waving, Careful Carl planned to run the broker’s information through FMCSA’s SAFER system, which was standard procedure for his company when working with a new client.
The search returned a registered email domain and phone number that was different from the company details in the message he was sent. He decided to call that number directly to ask about the load.
Careful Carl started describing the email he had received. The broker on the other line let him know right away that it was definitely not them. Besides, they’d heard from others that someone was out there posing as their company, and they were taking steps to stop the impersonators.
Lake Wish thanked Careful Carl for taking the time to vet the companies he does business with and expressed a desire to work with him on a real load in the future.
Careful Carl’s trucking company is cautious about who they work with. They have some contacts they’ve built relationships with over time, but that always starts with a vetting process.
Careful Carl always…
✅ Uses the free FMCSA SAFER system to run a search of the company. Make sure the details match the information the caller or email gave.
✅ Pays attention to any errors or abnormalities in the email address, its content, and attachments.
✅ Is reasonably suspicious of unusually high or low rates that veer off from market averages.
✅ Completely reviews the rate confirmation and load instructions before agreeing to move the load.
✅ Only sends the proof of delivery to the registered brokerage address that he’s verified, once they’ve transported the load.
✅ Focuses on building relationships with the reputable brokers that he’s vetted and saved beforehand.
So don’t be a Hasty Harry – be a Careful Carl. Especially as a new or struggling carrier, it can be tempting to cut corners or jump at things quickly, but making the wrong moves can tank your reputation and destroy your company.
Develop a clear Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) that you follow each and every time. Sure, it may be tedious, but it beats the heck out of losing all the money on a load you put in the work to run. To read more about avoiding double broker scams, read my previous article here.