Import & Forwarding Scams

The ABF has seen an increase in scams involving importers, customs brokers, freight forwarders, warehouses and depots, shipping and transport companies.


The Australian Border Force (ABF)’s Border Watch has seen an increase in scammers targeting the import industry, using sophisticated methods to defraud customs brokers, freight forwarders, warehouses and depots, shipping and transport companies.

Scammers typically use false identities to make you feel safe. They may use a fictional name, or assume the identities of real, trusted people and businesses. Some will approach you in person, while others will go to great lengths to only be contactable by phone or email.

Once they have your trust, scammers may devise an elaborate story to convince you to make a payment, transfer money or extend a line of credit. For example, they may say they can’t pay you upfront because they are travelling overseas, or that they are importing valuable goods and will pay you later. Over time, requests may become more direct or persistent.

Scam Examples:
1: False ID leaves broker out of pocket  
A man contacted a licensed customs broker to clear a valuable consignment from the Netherlands. The man presented a Queensland driver’s license and Australian passport. He said that he was currently travelling overseas and unable to access his bank account, so the broker agreed to pay the Dutch transport company under a credit arrangement. It was only after sending money to a Dutch bank account that the broker realised the transport company did not exist, and the identification documents were false. The man could no longer be contacted and the broker was unable to recuperate the funds.

Example 2: Gold bullion
A woman asked a freight forwarder to assist her with a shipment of gold bullion from Ghana. She provided an email from “Australian Customs” stating that the goods were “GST free under the Bequeathed Goods Bylaw”. The forwarder suspected the woman was being scammed, but nonetheless made arrangements to create an account and arrange storage upfront. When the bullion never arrived, the woman refused to pay and the freight forwarder was left with the bill.

Money paid to scammers can rarely be recovered.

As your licensed Customs Brokers and International freight forwarders, Alliance Intercontinental can advise you how to keep your international trade activities secure and protect your shipping needs at all major ports and airports around Australia.


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