A bogus transporter who stole the identity of a legitimate hauler was able to steal at least a dozen new and used luxury vehicles from unsuspecting dealerships. The crime went unnoticed until weeks later when it was too late to retrieve the vehicles.
Although in this case the fraud was difficult to detect, security experts say dealers can adopt procedures to reduce the risk of theft, aid law enforcement authorities and reduce the dealership's liability.
-- Inspect the carrier's ID before releasing vehicles for shipment and make sure the photo matches the physical appearance of the trucker, says Michael Charapp, a McLean, Va., dealer attorney.
-- Photocopy the driver's license. Stefan Smith, owner of the Tennessee dealership Lexus of Memphis, says he requires employees to photocopy carrier licenses, after getting stung in the recent scam. If the vehicle is stolen, the photocopy will help law enforcement authorities in their investigation, Charapp says.
-- Contact the dealer or customer who ordered the delivery to confirm the hauler's identity. "The dealership should have specific instructions from the buyer about which hauling company is being used and who is picking up the car," Charapp says.
-- When hiring a carrier, write a delivery deadline in the shipping contract, says Alan Walker, security director for the auto auction company Manheim. Keep a log of vehicle shipments, and make sure carriers make timely deliveries.
-- Make sure the dealership has "extended" theft insurance on its vehicle inventory. Bob Tschippert, senior vice president and head of Zurich North America's global automotive operations, says extended theft insurance protects a dealership in cases of deception and it is normally included in the dealer's open-lot coverage.