The invisible enemy in South Africa’s logistics industry

The invisible enemy in South Africa's logistics industry
Ryan Mer

The South African logistics industry is the backbone of the nation’s economy, playing a vital role in driving trade and ensuring smooth supply chains. However, this sector, like many others, faces a hidden threat: internal fraud. While external incidents like cargo theft usually seize headlines, the damage inflicted by employees who exploit their positions of trust can be equally, if not more, detrimental. Understanding the risk landscape of internal fraud and implementing robust counter measures is vital to securing the future of this critical industry.

A breeding ground for deception

The logistics industry faces a high risk of internal fraud, particularly payment fraud, due to factors such as the handling of large sums of money in various transactions. Employees in finance departments with access to sensitive information may exploit this by submitting false expense claims, creating fictitious invoices, or manipulating financial records for personal gain. The complex and fast-paced nature of logistics operations further contributes to the risk, as the intricate supply chains and high transaction volumes make it easy for fraudulent activities to go unnoticed.

Inherent vulnerability in the industry

The susceptibility of the logistics industry extends beyond mere opportunity. The increasing reliance on technology for managing inventory, processing transactions, and tracking shipments creates vulnerabilities that fraudsters can exploit. Weak cybersecurity measures, lack of awareness or internal controls can allow internal actors to manipulate systems, manipulate data, or even engage in identity theft and impersonation to facilitate fraudulent payments.

Additionally, the constant movement of goods and the inherent trust required during handovers make the industry vulnerable to cargo theft, often linked to internal activities. Collusion between employees and external parties, and tampering with inventory records to facilitate theft, are just some examples of how internal actors can exploit vulnerabilities in the system for personal gain.

A multifaceted approach to combating the invisible threat

The good news is that internal fraud is not an insurmountable challenge. By proactively addressing vulnerabilities and implementing robust prevention measures, logistics companies can significantly mitigate their risk.

This requires a multifaceted approach that starts with strengthening internal controls through the segregation of duties. This sees various aspects of a financial transaction being handled by different individuals to prevent any single employee from having total control over a process, which reduces the risk of manipulation. It is important to build a culture of integrity, centred on ethical conduct and open communication. This requires regular employee training on fraud prevention, highlighting the consequences of fraudulent activities, and promoting a safe environment for reporting suspicious activity.

The technological edge in combating internal fraud

Investing in the right technology is also key. The implementation of robust cybersecurity measures and data encryption solutions is necessary, along with regular penetration testing to safeguard against cyber threats and data breaches that can facilitate internal fraud.

“Along with cybersecurity measures, it is necessary to prioritise regular monitoring through regular audits, both internal and external. This helps to detect anomalies and identify potential discrepancies,” says Ryan Mer, CEO of eftsure Africa, a Know Your Payee™ (KYP) and payment fraud prevention platform provider.

Internal fraud poses a significant risk in logistics but eftsure Africa can play an invaluable role in helping companies by automating key checks and processes that would otherwise be vulnerable to manual, human error or manipulation.

“Offering a secure payment verification service, eftsure can help prevent fictitious invoicing by verifying beneficiary and bank account details before processing EFT payments. The system detects red flags, such as mismatches in account names and numbers, reducing errors and minimising manipulation opportunities,” Mer states.

For data-driven insights, eftsure provides comprehensive fraud data, enabling logistics companies to identify risks and anomalies in payment processes. This approach facilitates proactive risk mitigation strategies based on high-risk accounts or additional verification steps for new suppliers. With advanced fraud detection capabilities, eftsure’s real-time monitoring and anomaly detection uses advanced algorithms to identify unusual behaviour, potentially revealing internal fraud attempts.

Invaluable benefits for logistics companies

By using a KYP platform, logistics companies can more effectively mitigate the impact of internal fraud, reducing financial losses stemming from fraudulent payments. Beyond fraud prevention, making use of such a service contributes to enhanced reputation management within the logistics sector by reducing exposure to internal fraud scandals, safeguarding a company’s reputation and securing customer trust. Additionally, eftsure improves operational efficiency and oversight by automating verification processes, by digitising third-party and supplier’s manual onboarding processes and master data management. This minimises manual errors, resulting in cost savings and freeing up resources for allocation to other areas of the business. Such a proactive approach allows companies to shift their focus from reacting to incidents to actively preventing internal fraud, promoting a more secure and resilient financial environment.

“While internal fraud is not the only reason for concern and cognisance needs to be given to external fraud and cybercrime, by providing secure payment verification, data-driven insights, advanced fraud detection, and assisting with regulatory compliance, eftsure can be a critical piece of the puzzle for creating a more secure and robust logistics industry in South Africa,” concludes Mer.


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