Modified shipping containers have become an exciting trend introducing hundreds of possibilities for both residential and commercial use. With this rise in interest, the prospect of owning converted shipping containers shouldn’t be a cause for concern.
However, according to the CBC, the shipping container business has become the target of increasing container fraud. These companies operate under phony names and offer non-existent containers for sale. Another CBC report revealed they are making thousands of dollars a day from innocent people hoping to use their containers to create something useful. Here’s how to avoid ‘sea can’ shipping container scams.
Only Make a Purchase From a Legitimate Company
When you go online to research sea containers for sale, you could find yourself shopping at an illegal website. Many of the scammers list themselves as being in Canada when they are thousands of kilometres away in South Africa.
These sites post high-quality images, details about their brand new containers and offer them at unheard of prices. That’s how they entice people into ordering their “product.” However, these fraudsters are using your order to reveal banking and personal details for criminal purposes.
To be safe, avoid online purchases and deal only with a company with a facility where you can see the containers in person. Even if you can speak to someone on the phone or have someone respond promptly to your email questions, you could still be dealing with criminals. Of course, NEVER share your bank information via email or phone.
Avoid Anything that’s ‘Too Good to be True’
When shopping around, do your homework and be wary of pricing that seems “too good to be true.” A standout low price could be legit, but the lower it is compared to other sellers, the more likely it is to be a potential sea can scam.
Sea containers are a commodity, so prices fluctuate from month to month. If you deal with someone over the phone or online who holds onto the same price over several months, it could be a sea can scam, as it can be difficult to price out containers for this reason.
While reviews can be faked, it is another step you can take to help avoid dealing with criminals. Depend on legitimate reviews on Google or Facebook to avoid being taken by fake referrals. Don’t trust supplier websites to review testimonials because these can easily be written and added by fraudsters.
View the Container
As mentioned above, you should visit the seller at their facility and look at the container itself. Someone can have a single sea container for sale to show you, but you want to see the exact container you are purchasing. This is even more important when buying used containers, as even if the seller is legit, they might be exaggerating the condition of the shipping container.
Forceful Sales Pressure
If you visit a site in person and it seems the salesperson is putting undue pressure on you to commit, it is a possible sign of sea can scammers. While you can encounter aggressive salespeople anywhere, in this business, pressure-filled sales tactics don’t work and can be a sign the person is desperate to get your money.
Because these sites are operating a criminal enterprise, they won’t be around for long. You can use https://www.whois.com/whois/ to check the date their website was registered to see how old they are. If they are under a year, there is a good chance they are fraudsters. The younger the site, the less you should trust them.
Check Social Media
See if you can find at least a Facebook page for the supplier. Today most companies have some form of social media used for marketing. Make sure if you do find them, they have some recent posts to show they are alive and well and more likely a legit business.
Question Good Prices with Other Suppliers
Another good strategy is to get a very low quote and ask the other suppliers you are considering why it is so low compared to theirs. Mention the company by name and see if they have heard of them. It’s a pretty small industry right now, especially for one-off purchases, so suppliers will know their competition and rumours about criminal activity.
Ask for their GST/HST Number
This number is required for companies earning over $30,000 in revenue a year. If you ask for their GST/HST number, you can check to see if it is valid. If they balk when you ask, you are probably dealing with criminals.
Do they have a blog on their website?
While it’s easy to fake a blog, check their site to see if they have one. Look at the content, and check post dates as a clue to how legitimate they might be. If they don’t have a blog, their info reads poorly or is very badly written, it’s probably a fraudster.
Some other signs of a legitimate company are things like a story about who they are, videos to explain their offerings, source containers, etc. Although this information can be faked, it takes more effort to create and is therefore far less likely to appear on scam sites.
Choose a Reliable Supplier
A company like Secure Container Solutions, with a team that shares over 25 years in the business, is an excellent example of a reliable supplier. We have been delivering exceptional quality and service since 2007, offering comprehensive solutions with a focus on shipping container sales and modifications.