Shadowy crime ring targeting California nuts

Shadowy crime ring targeting California nuts

A shadowy crime ring is using hacked information to divert truckloads of high-value nuts right from under the nose of growers and vanish with them before anyone notices, officials cautioned.

An official with New Jersey-based cargo theft tracker CargoNet, said nut thieves use hacked information to steal truckloads of almonds, pistachios and walnuts, which then go to the black market.

Mr. Cornell of Traveller’s Insurance said, “If they get information from the truck company, they can hack into that company’s account … The trucking companies have no idea they have been compromised.”

A thief pretending to be a driver of a reputable shipping firm stole a truck-load of processed nuts worth $500,000. The whole shipment reportedly went to the black market.

Owners of almond, pistachios and cashew farms in California have also acknowledged that they are being targeted by a shadowy crime ring. They are now spending more money on reinforcing security to avert further thefts.

No more than five thefts were reported by California nut growers annually from 2012 through 2014, but the number of thefts drastically grew last year to at least 28. Officials wouldn’t say where the stolen nuts go, or who might be behind the organized thefts. However, they confirmed that several investigations are underway.