Amazon Drivers Part of $10 Million Theft Ring

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Amazon might be successfully testing drone deliveries, but the retail giant also needs to work on their current package delivery system. The FBI recently revealed that two Amazon delivery drivers were allegedly involved in a theft ring that has been reselling stolen goods worth almost $10 million on Amazon’s website since 2013.

The two drivers are said to be part of a larger group of thieves and shoplifters who resold stolen goods to two storefront businesses posing as pawnshops. The stolen products were shipped to Amazon warehouses and stored until they were sold on Amazon.com. The drivers had a clear-cut assignment to pick up items from a warehouse south of Seattle and deliver them to a post office for shipping or drive them to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to pick up items being returned to Amazon. Instead, the duo routinely stole the items and resold them to the pawnshops.

The investigation began last year when authorities noticed that one of the drivers had made dozens of pawnshop transactions. The FBI is now awaiting records from Amazon to determine the extent of the theft ring.

Unfortunately, with the rise in e-commerce, package theft has become a pervasive problem which has e-commerce and logistics companies worried. In fact, in a 2017 survey, 31% of the respondents had a package stolen and 41% refrain from buying specific products online because they fear the items will get stolen if left on their front doors. (Such thieves who steal delivered packages from doorsteps and front porches are called porch pirates.)

Also, as revealed in another survey, the top 10 cities in the U.S. with the most Amazon package thefts are Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Minneapolis, Oakland, Portland, Sacramento, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington.

So, how can Amazon delivery packages or any delivery packages stay safe from theft? And, how can field service businesses reduce fuel theft and driver fraud, while ensuring maximum efficiency and customer satisfaction? Let’s find out.

How to Reduce Theft and Losses?

Whether you are running your own delivery services or outsourcing it to a third-party provider, the best approach that addresses both theft prevention and productivity optimization is to monitor drivers in real-time by using a route optimization software. Below we look at some of the prominent features of Route4Me’s multi-stop route planner that can help improve the efficiency of your drivers and keep your packages safe from package thieves.

eSignature

Clearly, package theft is prevalent. However, sometimes the real reason why a package has gone missing is not porch pirates, but rather customers lying about not receiving their packages as they hope they might get a reimbursement that they do not deserve. Moreover, drivers might also be lying at times, having taken packages for themselves or to resell them. If you do not know what exactly happened, you will not be able to resolve the situation.

Route4Me’s last-mile software comes with an eSignature feature that allows customers to confirm whether they received their packages. They just need to sign on the driver’s smartphone screen, using a stylus pen or their fingers, which will help you prove that deliveries were made to root out instances of package theft.

ALSO READ: 6 Reasons Why You Should Go For Electronic Signature Capturing (And How Fleet Route Planning Software Can Help)

Fuel Expense Tracking

Almost every delivery routing software on the market allows you to see the speed and location of your vehicles in real-time. However, Route4Me’s delivery planner goes one step further as it allows you to track the fuel expenses of each driver automatically so you can see whether a driver is indulging in fraudulent fuel billing. So, the GPS-enabled analysis feature provides you with critical insights about your drivers’ fuel consumption habits, total gallons used, average gas price, average trip cost, and much more. You can even track and analyze fuel consumption for selected routes over a given period.

ALSO READ: How A Route Planner Can Help You Reduce Fuel Costs

Driver Monitoring

Route4Me’s route optimization software helps you plan well-optimized routes in just 30 seconds while factoring in weather, traffic, one-ways, weight, and so on. In this way, you will be able to deal with multiple drivers, complicated routes, and same-day deliveries without the hassle of manual route preparation. The best part is that, with Route4Me’s route planner, you can plan and assign routes even from your smartphone and your drivers can access all route-related details on their smartphone.

Now, once you have planned the well-optimized routes for your drivers, how can you ensure that they follow them? How do you know your drivers are not making unnecessary stops, taking prolonged breaks, or taking longer routes? Such activities could lead to delays in package deliveries and loss of productivity.

Luckily, Route4Me’s multi-stop route planner not only helps you plan optimized routes, but it also helps your field service managers track drivers in real-time to keep an eye on unplanned routes and prolonged breaks. This is possible as Route4Me has a GPS tracking feature integrated that will tell you the exact location and speed of your drivers in real-time.

So, if your drivers are veering off their routes or are violating traffic rules, you will know about it. This level of monitoring will not only help you reduce fuel costs and money spent on fines for traffic rules violation, but it will also help address payroll fraud. This is because your drivers’ and vehicles’ tracking data will have been recorded in the software and can be checked at any time and so there will not be much room for billing fraud.

ALSO READ: Why Your Competitors Have No Lazy Employees (And How GPS Tracking Helps Them)

Congregation Detection

It is easy to figure out what your employees are doing when they are in front of you at your offices. However, when they are out on the road, it is challenging to track what they are doing.

Our route planner software comes with a congregation detection feature that shows you when two or more of your drivers are in the same place at the same time and whether this is on a recurring schedule.

Such driver congregation can happen because of several reasons. For example, an employee might need to regularly borrow tools from another employee to get the job done. Alternatively, in more malicious cases, drivers may be congregating to steal parts or customers or perform some other kind of fraud.

Whatever the reason, if your drivers meet with each other, our routing software will let you know about it. You can then investigate whether there is anything suspicious going on and take actions accordingly.

Geofencing

Geofencing allows you to have an additional level of control over the whereabouts of your drivers and vehicles. This is possible as you can define areas as needed and then receive a notification when a vehicle enters or leaves the specified areas.

Another benefit of the geofencing feature is that it can be used to inform customers about the expected arrival time of their packages. So, Route4Me has a geofence-triggered SMS feature that notifies the customer when the driver is near the customer’s location. This allows the customer to be available to accept the delivery and reduce the amount of time the package is sitting outside, waiting for its owner to claim it. It will also help you meet customer expectations as the majority of customers expect updates about their order deliveries.

ALSO READ: Automate Your Delivery Logs: How Geofencing Is Eliminating Tedious Paperwork

Operational Fraud Analytics

Some drivers might use your fuel card to fill up their personal vehicles. Alternatively, other drivers might inflate the job hours on their invoices and engage in fraudulent billing. Route4Me will help protect your field service business from such losses by incorporating GPS tracking data, driver activity logs, fuel usage, and locations visited into its fraud flagging modules. Digital time stamps of your drivers delivering packages to customers will help you quickly settle customer disputes.

Other Fraud Prevention Methods

Although routing software pretty much covers all areas of theft prevention, you can also adopt several additional methods to protect your business from hefty losses. For example, Amazon’s Ring security cameras have been effective in stopping package thieves from stealing deliveries off customers’ front steps.

However, Amazon Ring is not the retail giant’s first step in this regard. It first bought Blink, a security camera company that makes devices that run on AA batteries. Also, Amazon offers Cloud Cam, an electronic eye that is part of Amazon Key.

Using Amazon Key and a smart lock, Amazon Prime members who are away from home can allow the package delivery person to open their front door and put the package safely inside. Alternatively, customers can have the packages delivered in their cars by using Amazon Key.

Some of the other measures to keep goods safe from the scourge of package thieves include the following.

Using Amazon Lockers

This provides flexible delivery options to customers to collect their packages in selected locations across the country. Customers are given a unique code which they can punch into the machine to retrieve their packages.

Image credit: Andrei Stanescu/iStockphoto.com

Shipping in Discreet Packaging

Many customers believe that discreet packaging can help address theft problems to a certain extent. The idea is to hide enticing products or high-end brands from thieves. In fact, in a survey, nearly 37% of the respondents were willing to pay more for their orders to be delivered in discreet packaging.

Conclusion

While the threat of driver fraud and package theft continues to increase, both retailers and customers must take the necessary measures to ensure package safety. Shipping companies, retailers, and customers need to work together to help their customers and stay ahead of package thieves.

How do you protect your business from theft and fraud? Do you’ve any questions? Please feel free to leave your comments below.

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