As prices for all metals continue to climb, there has been an increase in occurrences of illicit scrap metal trading. International Freight Forwarding companies are often unwitting accomplices to these schemes. Recently, the British International Trade Association (BIFA) issued a warning to its members and to the international trading community about this issue. The UK Parliament had recently introduced a Scrap Metal Dealers Bill. This bill would make it illegal to pay for scrap metals with cash. The concept was that many scrap metal dealers use cash for their illicit transactions.

This concern was addressed by Peter Quantrill, BIFA Director General in an interview with Handy Shipping Guide. His advice was to urge freight forwarders to alert the proper authorities to any suspicions that they have about scrap metal shipments. The UK parliament felt that they had addressed the problem of scrap metal theft by making it illegal to pay for scrap metals with cash. The inadvertent result of such legislation is that the problem has been transferred to freight forwarders as criminals seek to export their stolen scrap metals.

BIFA is asking that its members report any suspicious looking shipping containers. Organized criminals use shipping containers to transport stolen scrap metals to various locations. Freight forwarders who handle these containers are in a position to recognize and report such suspicious activities.

Some indicators to look for are containers found in unusual locations such as brown fields, industrial units, farms and residential addresses. These unorthodox locations might indicate illegal shipments.

Although this warning was issued in the UK, shipping is a global activity and criminal enterprises often cross international boundaries. Freight forwarders across the globe can help to monitor and report instances of criminal activity. Knowing what to look for can help freight forwarders avoid becoming accomplices to criminals seeking to ship stolen scrap metals.