Ever since the pandemic, truckers have been the targets of an onslaught of schemes. From double-brokering to skimming and shimming, thieves have become increasingly creative in their efforts to rob drivers of their profits.
Fortunately, truckers are observant people, foiling scams with their ability to pick up on fishy details and suspicious characters.
We’ve compiled a few stories of times that truckers stopped fraud. As you read these stories, take note as to what you can do should you ever meet a similar scammer.
1. Like Taking Millions of Dollars in Loads from a Baby
A Miami trio running a baby formula business was recently sentenced to 18 years in prison for wire fraud, money laundering, and conspiring to obtain pre-retail medical products.
Their elaborate scheme was comprised of sending dummy materials in place of actual goods, even going so far as to craft fraudulent documentation showing proof of receipt. After withholding the baby products, this organization would sell them illegally in other countries for a higher price.
How, you ask, was this scheme exposed? Not by the FBI or CIA, but by a trucker.
Having shipped a few loads for similar products, this trucker found it strange when he noticed heavy plywood wrapped in barbed wire around the loads. He called the authorities to have the load investigated and, sure enough, the products in the pallets did not match the documentation professed them to be.
This error in the load claim leads to an eventual investigation of the company and then to an arrest. The trucker was commended for his attentive work.
Takeaway: If the shape or packaging of your load seems to contradict what is stated on the load documentation, you may be involved in a fraudulent load. Don’t be afraid to speak up concerning discrepancies when you notice them and you could be part of the truckers stopping fraud.
2. A Text from UDOT?
Scott Menderson is a proud member of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), and organization committed to the rights and success of truckers. Given Scott’s experience in the industry, he couldn’t help but become suspicious when he received this text from UDOT.
The text read as:
“Please be advised there is an error with your USDOT. Please call 817-335-0894 to become current and keep driving with no interruption. STOP to end”
Source: Truck Drivers USA
After detecting something fishy, Scott reached out to some of his friends at OOIDA to get their opinion. One friend, Tom, worked as a regulatory specialist at OOIDA and had a considerable amount of experience with DOT relations.
He quickly dismissed the text as a scam, noting that the DOT will not send texts over a letter or phone call.
OOIDA issued an alert to truckers nationwide to notify them of the scam shortly thereafter.
Takeaway: Be wary of any kind of texts soliciting your information, no matter how official they appear. A simple Google search can go a long way in helping you to identify if a text is legit, or a hook for a scammer.
3. Stopping Smugglers
On a routine delivery through Tustin, California, one driver was alarmed when a white panel van began signaling him to pull over. Though the van was unmarked and looked suspicious, the men in the van were flashing badges out the window and demanding that the driver pull over.
Feeling uneasy, the trucker wisely waited to pull over until he noticed a business with an armed security guard available. Once he was stopped, the driver promptly notified the guard of the situation, to which the guard called law enforcement.
The two men in the white van vanished before the police came. Following the driver’s suspicions, the police checked the trailer of the truck for anything out of ordinary.
Stowed away between the electronics the driver was hauling were 12 tons of illegal drugs.
The police commended the driver for his actions and credited him with the success of a major drug bust.
Takeaway: If an unmarked vehicle attempts to pull you over, be cautious. Police vehicles will always have some kind of ‘police’ marking. Even if the vehicle appears credible, always pull over in public, well-lit areas.
Scammer’s schemes come in all shapes and sizes. Scams can take place over text, over the phone, or in person. Ultimately, your best tool for foiling scammers is calling on your common sense. If something seems out of the ordinary, it’s always worth checking out to join the truckers stopping fraud.
The England Carrier Services (ECS) division offers various services for carriers ranging from maintenance to support. As ECS members, carriers have access to nationwide discounts on fuel and tires from dedicated team members committed to finding the best price. ECS also provides factoring services with benefits such as same-day funding to a bank account or fuel card. These options allow carriers the freedom to focus on growing their business while saving time and money.