A 97-count indictment was filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Ohio last month charging 28 people with violations including conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering for their roles in a scheme that skimmed more than $1.7 million from trucking companies.
The indictment charges that the defendants fraudulently obtained account numbers and codes used by trucking companies to wire money to drivers from February 2011 through November 2012.
Account numbers and codes used by trucking companies to issue checks through electronic fund processing companies (EFP) such as Fleet One, Comdata, and TCH were obtained by the scammers, without the knowledge or consent of the trucking companies.
The defendants traveled to truck stops in the Northern District of Ohio and elsewhere and once at the truck stops, they posed as truck drivers, approached customer service counters, presented the stolen account numbers and codes, and requested checks from EFPs, according to the indictment.
Customer service representatives at the truck stops then processed the requests by sending the account numbers and codes via wire to EFP processing centers located outside the Northern District of Ohio. The EFPs then authorized the requests and authorized the truck stop customer service representatives, via wire, to print checks for the defendants. They then endorsed the checks and cashed them at the truck stops, according to the indictment.
“Criminal enterprises are constantly coming up with new ways to rip off companies, consumers and customers,” said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. “This group tried to turn truck stops into their own personal ATMs. We will continue to work with our partners in law enforcement to stamp out these schemes.”
“This organization is alleged to have significantly defrauded American trucking companies engaged in legitimate commerce,” said William Hayes, acting special agent in charge U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Detroit. “This type of illegal activity can result in higher costs passed on to the consumer.”
In total, the defendants fraudulently obtained a gross amount of more than $1.7 million. Most of the transactions took place at truck stops in Ohio, according to the indictment.
The investigation was conducted by the Department of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The matter was presented to the grand jury and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David M. Toepfer.