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28 Charged In Money Wire Scheme, Stealing $1.7 Million from US Trucking Companies

by Jana Ritter - Published: 4/06/2013

As part of what the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office is calling a “sophisticated money-wiring scheme,” 28 people have been charged in a 97-count indictment for allegedly stealing as much as $1.7 million from trucking companies in the U.S.

Ice

ICE — a branch of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security — has been investigating the issue for two years and uncovered a scheme that skimmed money from the victimized trucking companies by fraudulently obtaining account numbers and codes used by independent trucking companies to wire money. The scheme occurred from February 2011 to November 2012 by using electronic fund processing companies like Fleet One, Comdata and TCH, which transfers funds from trucking companies to drivers. The money is obtained by providing information to customer service reps at certain truck stops, where drivers receive their check.

The defendants had obtained account numbers and codes used by the companies to transfer money and would visit truck stops in Ohio and elsewhere, pose as drivers, present the information and get the checks, which they would then endorse and cash at the truck stop. They then laundered the money overseas and back to the U.S., ICE says.

Federal prosecutors have charged 28 individuals with a 97-count indictment that includes conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering. On March 6 in Cleveland, U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach and acting special agent of Homeland Security Investigations, William Hayes announced the indictment. “Criminal enterprises are constantly coming up with new ways to rip off companies, consumers and customers,” Dettelbach said. “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.”

According to ICE, the scheme involved the defendants and other “known and unknown” individuals who obtained account numbers and codes of individual trucking companies for accounts held with electronic fund processing companies, including Fleet One, Comdata and TCH. The private account information was obtained without the knowledge of the trucking companies. The wire accounts are used by trucking companies to forward checks to drivers at truck stops for diesel and other expenses.

The defendants and others sent the account numbers and codes by text or phone call to defendants, who later arrived at truck stops and posed as truck drivers. Those defendants used truck stop customer service employees to request checks from the electronic fund processing companies. The defendants then endorsed and cashed checks at the truck stop, garnering more than $1.7 million in the process.