Que the Monty Python Spam Song. Scam-scam-scam-scam, scam-scam-scam-scam, scammity-scam, scammity-scam. OK, maybe that was a bit corny, but the truth is, there are scams everywhere you look in the trucking industry. They get you coming and going, from the time you start your training, all the way until you retire. And that’s only the scams aimed at drivers. Then there are the scams perpetrated on trucking companies, and even scams started by drivers. I didn’t even mention lumpers yet. It’s everywhere you look, and it always has been.
As a career trucker for more than 25-years, I gives me great pain to talk about this stuff. But somebody has to. Some people will tell me I’m giving the trucking industry a bad name with this kind of talk. Before you even send that email, or leave that comment, let me answer: Everybody in the business for any length of time knows all about it. It’s the people who are unaware that fall victim. This is my attempt to help get people aware, before they learn the hard way.
Scams that target trucking companies:
Operation CANSCAM: The FBI has ben working on this scam for years, but it still goes on. The way it works is, a Canadian company (typically located in or around Montreal, Quebec) will request a line of credit from a U.S. business. The Canadian business will fax or e-mail references, credit documents, and/or tax documents to prove authenticity. The Canadian business will then place an order for materials on the line of credit and arrange for shipping by a third party. The materials are hauled to Canada, and payment is never made for the product, or the shipping freight charges.
Typically, the targets are; lumber and construction material retailers (lumber, siding, roofing, flooring, etc.), tire retailers, auto parts retailers, trucking and logistics companies, and painting supply companies.
Five fraudulent company names were released by the FBI:
- Canstruct, Inc.
- AYA Distributors
- Xpress Auto Parts
- Point Tech Performer, Inc.
If you have been a victim of this Canadian scam, contact the FBI. Go here for more info.
Fake DOT faxes to drivers.
The way this one works is, a driver will get a fax from a Washington DC fax number, with an official-looking DOT letterhead, signed by, “Julie P. Weynel, senior procurement officer”. This fax scares the driver into releasing financial information, and is an identity-theft scam. More on that scam from The Truckers Report.
This one is the responsibility of the U.S. Secret Service office. Contact them here.
Trucking Schools lie to student drivers:
Dan Rather did a (too) lengthy piece on this so-called scam. Love his little, out of touch, Washington DC heart, he tried to expose an industry he has disdain for, but all he found was lying recruiters, and high interest rate loans. He made a big deal about it on a 5-part TV series called Mind Your Loan Business. And one of his liberal colleagues at the Examiner did a friendly piece about him.
He exposed a particular truck driving school in Detroit. Allegedly, they were lying to recruits, promising $70,000 to $80,000-a-year truck driving jobs. And charging student $6500 for the course, at 19% interest. Rather called it predatory lending, and at that interest rate, I guess it was. But come on, to us in the industry, this ain’t that big a deal. Every recruiter I ever met lied, from the time I joined the Army, to almost every trucking job I had.
Rather goes on to spell out how in-debt these student were when they couldn’t find a job, or went from job to job. Huh? Welcome to trucking. In fact, welcome to the real world, where you have to work to pay your loans back. Poor Dan, he just doesn’t get it.
Don’t get me wrong, I have disdain for predatory loan practices. But at the same time, I have needed money when my credit wasn’t so good, and knew the choices I made were costly, and I made them anyway.
Phony DAC Report charges:
Every once in a while you hear about a company that abused the DAC Report system. When a driver quits, they may put a derogatory report on his DAC record. If the driver hit an overpass, rolled a truck over, or failed a drug test for example, this information can seriously affect a driver’s ability to get the next job. But what about when the company is lying? Well, it’s your word against theirs.
That’s why I always say, try to leave your job on pleasant conditions- give two-weeks notice, and just tell them you have some family business offer or something. If you do have an issue with your DAC Report, it can be fixed, see how to fix your DAC Report.
One driver I know got fired over the phone because his truck got towed for being illegally parked, so he hitchhiked home. This incident went on his DAC Report and it said he abandoned the truck. It took him a while to find someone that would hire him after that.
Top-ten truck driver scams:
1- The fake lumper receipt. This has to be number one. A driver unloads his truck himself and then writes a receipt that says he paid a lumper. Then he gets the Com-check and keeps it, tax-free. Too bad that companies almost always know what it costs and what the real receipts look like.
2- Other fake receipts. So, you bought a tool, or a part for your car (or your truck, if you’re an owner-operator) and it looks like it could pass for a trailer part or something that the company truck needed. Or maybe you picked up one of those blank receipts that you can fill out yourself, so you do. Isn’t it funny that you’re the only one who always does that?
3- Selling fuel/chains/load-locks. How many times have you heard this one on the cb radio? If only I had a dollar for every time. Do you really think they don’t know how many miles per gallon your truck gets? Or how many load-locks or chains you were issued?
4- Tire exchange. You notice a brand new tire or two on your company truck or trailer. So you decide to sell those to someone who gives you an old one or two to put on in its place. Or maybe you just buy one, even though the one already on there is like new, because you can then sell that one. Too bad tires have serial numbers. Tires are one of their biggest expenses. Do you really think they don’t keep track of them?
5- Short delivery/keeping stuff. So, you have a trailer full of toothpaste. If only you could keep one or two cases, you wouldn’t have to buy toothpaste for a few years. Tempting, huh? If only they didn’t count everything all the time. Hey, maybe you can open a box and take some out, that way, it still looks like a full load. That is, until the store gets it and opens it, then calls the distributor, who calls your company.
6- Over-charging customers. This is a big one for local drivers who deliver to stores. Let’s see, I’ve got fifteen loaves of bread (fourteen) and twelve Twinkies (eleven), that cost a dollar each (ninety-four cents) and you manage to slip that past the busy clerk. Too bad stores keep track of what they sell. Isn’t it funny how the store seems to be losing merchandise to shoplifters who only seem to steal what you bring?
7- Selling skids. So, you finish your delivery and the customer put twenty skids on your trailer, that you know you don’t need at your next stop and there’s a place right up the road that buys them. Somebody is going to have to pay for them and they will be looking right at you when they start wondering where they went.
8- Expenses without a receipt. Hey, sometimes you just don’t get a receipt for legitimate expenses, like self-serve truck washes and unmanned tolls. But, every week?
9- Reefer fuel. This is a biggie for owner-operators. They buy reefer fuel, which the company pays for, and put it in their own tank. Free fuel. Who’s to know? Everybody keeps track of miles-per-gallon these days. It’s funny how your truck went five hundred miles without fuel that day?
10- Using the company truck. So, your neighbor is moving and you’re home for the weekend, with that big truck just sitting there. This one works out pretty well, right up to the moment that his china cabinet falls over.
That, from Driver scams.
Lease-Purchase plans are a big scam for the most part:
With only a few exceptions, lease-purchase plans should be steered clear of (no pun intended). As a general rule, they’ll sell you an overpriced truck, charge extra for a lot of little things, and lock you in with a low-paying contract. If you ever considered doing a lease-purchase agreement- do your homework, and make a wise choice- and ask a lot of questions!
Basically, anywhere you go in this world people will always try to scam you. I could go on and on about the trucking industry, but that’s only because I know it so well. I’m sure every business industry has its share of scams. Just be careful who you deal with.
Most scams are only successful because the “victim” is greedy. Any con artist will tell you that.
Note about the picture: Of course, Elvis Presley was not a scam artist, he was a beloved musician and singer. I only used that image because it was a mugshot. I like Elvis, and the picture was in the public domain.