State and industry officials are warning truckers traveling in New Jersey about a scam targeting drivers entering the city of Newark.
According to Gail Toth, president of the New Jersey Motor Truck Association, a group of people are meeting trucks exiting the New Jersey Turnpike at exit 15E, which enters Newark.
The men at the exit look for truckers who are not from the area or not familiar with New Jersey.
“If they get off the ramp on exit 15 and they’re lost and they appear to not know where they’re going, a ‘greeter’ shows up,” Toth said. “They say they’re a greeter, and that they’re there to provide escorts to truckdrivers to get them to their destination because there’s a lot of truck regulation in the city of Newark.”
The “greeters” ask for a fee of $50 to $100 to escort the truck to its destination in Newark. The scam artist then gives the trucker a receipt that the “greeter” says can be refunded by the New Jersey Turnpike.
The receipt “looks legitimate, I’m being told,” Capt. Heidi Scripture of the State Police said. “But the turnpike is not involved in any greeter type activity in Newark, and they’re not reimbursing them for this service.”
Toth said the truckers become aware they’ve been scammed when they try to get the refund at a tollbooth and the toll worker tells them the Turnpike does not provide that service.
“It really makes you sick,” Toth said.
The toll workers called the New Jersey State Police to report the problem, Toth said, but the State Police do not have investigative powers within the city of Newark. Law-enforcement officials in Newark have also been informed, and the State Police have told Toth that they plan to aid in the investigation.
Several truckers have been hit by the scam recently. Another State Police spokesman said a similar scam was attempted a couple of years ago off another Turnpike exit.
Toth and Scripture said truckers who are scammed should call #77 on their cell phone, which is a 24-hour-a-day State Police operations phone line. If they can’t get through there, they should call 9-1-1.
“Then we can get troopers down there right away and we can conduct an investigation,” Scripture said. Troopers are still checking into previous reports, and, as of mid-June, no arrests had been made.
Both warned truckers to be wary of anyone approaching their trucks.
“They shouldn’t let strange people in their truck no matter what,” Scripture said. “I guess these people were supposedly getting into their truck with them and taking them to their destination.”
“There is no such thing as a ‘greeter,’ they’re not going to get any refund, do not pay these guys, roll your window up, and call #77,” Toth said.
“Be very careful,” Toth said. “If you’re headed to Newark, make sure you’ve got your routing correctly, so you don’t have to stop for these creepy people.”
“Drive to a public place to get directions. Don’t let these guys fool you.”
—by Mark H. Reddig, associate editor Mark Reddig can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.