- Company owner Danny Tiang had hoped to sell on the KitKats for $250,000
A New York candy company’s entire $110,000 shipment of rare Japanese KitKats has been allegedly hijacked after falling victim to a new style of a so-called strategic theft scam that involves identity fraud and fake pickups.
Danny Tiang’s company Bokksu offers rare Japanese snacks in subscription boxes to candy-loving Americans. The company orders shipments of candy in Japan and repacks them to sell with a markup.
His most recent order – $110,000 worth of rare KitKats – was supposed to be shipped to the US from Japan, but went missing before it could arrive at its destination in New Jersey.
Somewhere on the way, the 55,000 KitKats – in flavours like matcha latte, melon and daifuku mochi – were redirected by scammers using a fraud campaign called strategic theft or fictitious pickups.
The thieves use a fake carrier identity in the hope to be the authorized transporter of the cargo, after which a real carrier will deliver the shipment to a destination the scammers chose.
What is the strategic theft scam?
In a strategic theft scam, international cargo is stolen by scammers deceiving people at various points in the supply chain to hand over shipments to scammers.
The thieves commit identity fraud with fake IDs and fake businesses to trick suppliers into handing over cargo.
They chose tight deadlines in the hope that time constraints and human errors will result in cargo being misdirected.
If these fictitious pickups are successful, it can be tricky for business owners to find the missing shipments.
The scam has been on the rise, with about 200 incidents per month this year, which is a 700 per cent increase to previous years.
CargoNet said there have already been over 600 attempts to misdirect shipments since November, the New York Times reports.
Strategic theft resulted in losses of about $30billion per year, according to the FBI, with food and electronics being among the main targets.
Mr Tiang had hoped to recover the perishable candy, which he wanted to sell for $250,000.
He hired investigator Shane Black of Freight Rate Central in Florida for $13,000.
But they faced a race against time to locate the KitKats, which could melt if not stored properly.
While part of Mr Tiang’s shipment was found, he still faced hurdles to get his candy back.
He needed to provide proper identification for his cargo to be released and to pay for two weeks’ worth of storage fees to a company in California, where his KitKats were found.
In the end, Mr Tiang decided not to pay for the release of his KitKats.
He said he was concerned that he doesn’t know whether they were adequately stored and could potentially make his customers sick if they weren’t cooled.