A New York City-based company reportedly lost $250,000 in rare Kit Kats due to an elaborate scam involving identity theft and fake email accounts.
What happened: Bokksu, which sells Japanese snacks in subscription boxes, bought $100,000 worth of unique-flavored Kit Kats from Japan and planned to sell them for around $250,000 in the U.S. However, the Kit Kats never reached customers after being handled by fraudsters who got hold of them in the supply chain, according to a New York Times report.
How it all started: Bokksu hired Shane Black and his freight brokering company, Freight Rate Central, which is based in Saratosa, Florida, to transport the shipment for $13,000. Black posted the job on a trucking board and received a response from someone who identified themself as "Tristan" from HCH Trucking. Tristan accepted the job and picked up the Kit Kats from Japan Crate Acquisition, which first stored them at a facility in South El Monte, California.
However, the shipment failed to reach its destination in Carlstadt, New Jersey. As it had been days, Black became worried. Noticing red flags in Tristan's responses to his follow-up emails, he decided to contact HCH Trucking. He learned that no such person was employed with the company.
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Second incident: Tristan eventually confessed to being a scammer. Black discovered that the shipment did not leave California after all and had been housed the whole time in two storage facilities: Inland Empire Cold Storage in Jurupa Valley and Anytime Crossdock in Ontario.
Unfortunately, he was conned for a second time. This time, a "Manny" from MVK Transport Inc. accepted the job to transport the shipment out of Anytime Crossdock, but only to leave it in Southern California’s freewayland.
Third incident: The other half of the Kit Kats remained at Inland Empire. However, the company refused to release it to Black, saying their contract was with a person named Harry Centa. Unlike Tristan and Manny though, Harry Centa is a real person who works in shipping. But as it turns out, the Ohio resident had no knowledge of the Kit Kats, suggesting that the matter is a case of identity theft.
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Profit loss: The remaining Kit Kats are still at Inland Empire, but Bokksu owner Danny Taing is no longer interested in recovering them. "I don’t know if I would be comfortable selling these to customers," he told The New York Times, adding that they might get sued if something bad happens.
Interestingly, the Times said it discovered that Bokksu had acquired Japan Crate — the first facility involved in the saga — in June. This means Bokksu "had in effect overseen the loading of its own Kit Kats onto the original two fraudulent trucks," the Times noted.
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