Heavy plant and equipment theft in NSW has been on the rise in recent months. This has resulted in over 1.8 million dollars of machinery from at least three plant hire suppliers being taken.
What is the scam?
The fraudulent hirer portrays themselves as employees of a legitimate NSW registered constructions or excavation business, creating fake email addresses and using names of employees working at the legitimate business.
They ‘trick’ heavy plant and equipment hire businesses into believing it is a legitimate hire and once the machines are delivered, the GPS locators are removed and the machines are typically collected by separate tow operators, who are not involved in the scam and simply undertaking the transport as requested and paid for by the supposed owner of the machines.
The machines are then transported to a second site, where they sit for 24 hours to see if any other GPS devices are triggered. They are then collected by a further tow operator and transported to a third site before finally being collected by a forth tow operator who takes them to a further location where all serial plates and markings are stripped and new decals added. Some of the machines are transported offshore and some are sold locally.
What should you be aware of?
The HRIA recommend that all their members prior to hire, at a minimum, do the following:
1. Have two forms of valid identification e.g. drivers license and credit card
Take a photo of the identification and file with the hire agreement
2. Record of a current mobile number
Ensure you ring the mobile number at the time of hiring
3. Install CCTV cameras in the office and yard
4. Sign off checklist at handover
Do not leave the machinery on site without hirer present
The below additional steps are also recommended:
- Check email addresses correlate with website URL and/or contact details on website
- Call business reception and ask to talk to the applicant
- Consider using a more thorough credit application process e.g. a form with directors details, company details and history, and references
- It is good practice to check the Australian Business Register and in this scenario you could use it to correlate the information supplied
If you notice anything untoward please report it to the relevant authorities.