Sep 8, 2015 | By Kira

Until now, the most controversial issue surrounding 3D printing has inarguably been the headache that is 3D printed weaponry — particularly as it is currently playing out in the U.S. However, a report this week coming out of Europe has revealed that cargo thieves have found a way to clone security seals using 3D printing technology, and have used the method to successfully hijack cargo from a pharmaceutical shipment.

Cargo and freight shipment thefts are a serious problem for shippers, both at the domestic and international level. Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, France, the UK, South Africa and other port countries are particularly at risk, with stolen goods ranging from clothes and food to electronics and, in this case, pharmaceuticals. Although freight security companies are becoming more and more sophisticated, offering a variety of seals such as indicative, barrier, and electronic to protect different kinds of cargo, it seems as though tech-savvy criminals are always one step ahead.

According to Swiss shipping and logistics association SpedLogSwiss, which reported the incident, the cloned seals were so well executed that the hijackers even matched the identification numbers on the originals, making it nearly impossible to notice the scam without close inspection. SpedLogSwiss also notes that fake seals can be 3D printed in as little as 10 minutes depending on the printer.

Image of the original manufacturer and carrier seals which were loaded on the shipment

While not many details about the crime have been released, such as what the contents of the stolen cargo were, it is clear that the theft took place during the shipment. The original manufacturer and carrier seals were placed on the shipment without incident. It wasn’t until after they had reached their destination and the seals were removed that the shipper realized most of the valuable cargo was missing. Upon investigation, the seals were found to be 3D printed counterfeits.

“The advantages of this technology have already been discovered by the organized crime,” said SpedLogSwiss. In the second quarter of 2015 alone, there have already been over 500 cargo thefts in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, according to freight security specialist Freightwatch International. While we don’t have numbers on how many of those thefts were aided by 3D printing services, it’s not hard to imagine opportunistic criminals lining up for their chance to exploit this cheap, accessible and effective technology. As the 3D printed gun debate in the U.S. has already proven, if people can get away with criminal activity, even if it’s just to prove a point, they absolutely will.



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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Bob Loblaw wrote at 9/22/2015 1:17:14 AM:

"As the 3D printed gun debate in the U.S. has already proven, if people can get away with criminal activity, even if it’s just to prove a point, they absolutely will." How is that? The people printing those guns didn't break any laws. The highest law in the country says their right to bear arms shall not be infringed. That includes making/using plastic guns, swords, battle axes or whatever we want. The highest law in the land says the government has zero authority or jurisdiction in this matter so anyone advocating restrictions is clearly subverting the government and instituting tyranny.

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