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Attention! Counterfeit containers

A counterfeit containers warning issued to the Customs Brokers’ and Forwarders’ Council of Australia (CBFCA) by Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP), could serve as a timely portent for New Zealand shippers.

While Shipping Gazette™ enquiries with the New Zealand Customs Service and the Custom Brokers’ and Freight Forwarders’ Federation of New Zealand revealed no such issues are presenting on these shores, the CBFCA is sounding a strong call for vigilance.

“A counterfeit shipping container (also known as a fake, cloned or re-birthed container) is a container that has had its unique identifier erased from its exterior and replaced with that of another legitimate container’s unique identifier,” the CBFCA stated in a membership notice.

“Recently an importer, when unpacking two containers, found not the goods ordered but instead the containers filled with cheap brick
pavers. The whole containers were substituted and counterfeited.

“We were told that this particular incident was a very primitive attempt as the containers in question were very old and in poor condition. So the possibility for a more widespread sophisticated operation cannot be underestimated.”

According to a Border Watch issued by the DIBP, parties substituting a legitimate container with a counterfeit are potentially enabling a “range of border-related offences” to be enacted.

The DIBP advises the following indicators could define a counterfeit container situation:

• Repainted display numbers.
• Alterations to comer castings.
• Display numbers not matching plate or casting number.
• Evidence of grinding of the comer casting.
• Original numbers partially hidden or showing through.
• Container safety plate or manufacturer’s plate damaged, altered or replaced.
• Any evidence of an attempt to replace serial numbers.
• Incorrect placement of container number.

Source: NZ Shipping Gazette

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