Following on from last year, we are taking this opportunity on our 20th anniversary to put together write ups of 20 actual case files, highlighting the most common threats in business and the effective, structured solutions applied for effective resolution. We will also add a few old war stories that hit the press over the years, so we will invite you to join us in reading our overviews over the few weeks. The first four cases have received a lot of feedback. Our case story today is the Syndicate members shopping through sealed merchandise.
A client who owns a transport company, which services the retail industry, had been experiencing large scale stock losses. This loss placed the company at risk of losing the contract of a huge retail company, as they were failing to honor their contract by not delivering full quotas of goods, not to mention the financial loss suffered for having to refund the missing items. The client believed that the truck drivers were not involved in the theft because of the security measures they had in place. The company had implemented measures to prevent theft by placing a security seal over the lock on their trucks’ doors, once they had been loaded with the merchandise. The trucks would then arrive at their destinations with the seal intact, which would indicate that the theft had not taken place during transport, clearing the truck drivers of any wrong doing. This created a mystery when being notified by the client that stock loss was occurring. Where was the stock going? Justicia Investigations was mandated to identify the culprits and to implement corrective action to avoid further stock loss from taking place and create confidence between our client, the transport company and the retail company. Justicia commenced the investigation by placing undercover agents within the client’s company. Stage 1 – Confirm Security Process Each box was sealed with security tape, which was specifically branded to ensure that boxes weren’t tampered with before delivery. Boxes were then loaded onto the trucks and the truck’s lock was then sealed with a security seal, which had its own serial number. The serial number was then recorded by the dispatch clerk. Trucks would make several stops during the day and at each stop, the receiving clerks would break the seal, remove their stock and insert a new seal. Stage 2 – Infiltrate undercover agents within the client’s company The undercover agent was positioned in the client’s factory, where he monitored the process. The agent confirmed that the process was being followed correctly. Justicia then moved the agent, once he had gained the trust of the drivers, to a position as a driver’s assistant. Within a few days the agent soon uncovered the scam, discovering that security guards had sold the truck drivers rolls of security tape, so that they could reseal boxes that they had opened. Once the merchandise was loaded into the trucks at the depot, the doors of the truck were sealed with a security seal and the serial number recorded, as suggested by the client. However, when the truck left the depot, there were two methods used to carry out the theft of the merchandise: Drivers were aware of certain stops where receiving clerks were lazy and did not reseal the trucks themselves, but rather gave the seal directly to the drivers to put onto the trucks after delivery. The driver would then leave without sealing the truck, allowing him to make stops to off load stock to syndicate members. After the syndicate had off loaded the items they wanted, the driver would then reseal the boxes with security tape and seal the truck with the seal given by the previous clerk. When the truck arrived at the client with stock missing, the seal was intact. When the drivers did not have the opportunity of a lazy receiving clerk, this did not deter them as they had worked out that, with correct tools they could remove the hinges off the rear door and gain access to the boxes without breaking the seal. The truck drivers would then reseal the boxes with their security tape, replace the door on its hinges and deliver the stock with their seal still intact. Justicia established that the leader of this syndicate, who was buying the stolen merchandise, had in fact opened up a shop, just to trade with the volumes of stolen merchandise. We also established the link between the syndicate leaders and the client employees, finding that the shop owner was the sister of a former employee of the transport company. Arrests Once the full modus operadi was established, Justicia investigators, along with the SAPS, staked out a shopping mall, where the syndicate leader was to take delivery of stolen merchandise. Justicia Investigations, along with the police, confronted the syndicate leaders with the evidence they had gathered. The two syndicate leaders were arrested. As the transaction transpired the police and investigators swooped and arrested the member of the syndicate as well as the company’s employees. The arrested drivers then revealed the information regarding the syndicate members which lead to the arrest of the other members. The transport company was informed of the various methods used to bypass security. Various corrective measures were put in place.