IContainers, an online freight forwarder, has advised all cargo agents to pay extra attention to shipments involving switch bills of lading, following an increase in fraud cases.
The WCA, which is the largest network of freight forwarders in the world, has already indicated that it will distance itself from business related to these bills.
Switch bills of lading are required for legitimate reasons, such as splitting parcels listed on an original bill, but iContainers has stated that a switch bill of lading should only be a last resort due to the risks involved.
Unlawful motives for using switch bills of lading have included the concealment of cargo origins, due to sanctions imposed on certain countries, and modifying the shipment date so that it corresponds with terms stated on the letter of credit.
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According to Aliona Yurlova, Agents Developer at iContainers, freight forwarders and their agents should take extra precaution to protect themselves if a switch bill needs to be issued.
Yurlova said: “If a switch bill of lading is inevitable, freight forwarders should verify the reliability of the principal party authorizing the issuance of the second set.
“Obtain their authority in writing and a signed letter of indemnity and have it countersigned by a bank to indemnify the forwarder against all consequences.”
Because of the complications and potential ramifications in the event of a resulting lawsuit, Yurlova also advises freight forwarders to crawl through the differences meticulously and ensure that the original bills are taken out of circulation and cancelled.