By Charlie Morasch, staff writer
It happens all too often.
Someone takes a name and a motor carrier number from a small trucking company listed online, sees a valuable load on a load board website, and calls a freight broker to take the load.
Only days later, the broker and shipper try to punish the trucking company – a victim itself.
That’s what happened in early October to one owner-operator.
Kevin, a veteran truck driver and OOIDA member, said he was recently contacted by an attorney that represented a freight broker. Kevin asked that Land Line not use his full name for this article.
Kevin, the broker alleged, had picked up three loads of beer from an Anheuser-Busch distributor in the southeast but had never delivered the beer.
The scenario is impossible, Kevin said.
“I was contract hauling for another company during the time that this happened,” Kevin said. “There is no way I could have been there.”
The case is only the latest example that shows the ease by which criminals can use basic motor carrier information listed publicly to swindle freight brokers into handing over loads. Yet owner-operators are themselves innocent victims in the schemes if their MC numbers are used.
Kip Hough, OOIDA’s Business Services Department assistant supervisor, said stolen motor carrier identities are “a huge issue.”
“It’s very easy to grab an MC number. That’s public information,” Hough said. “But it’s the broker’s responsibility and the shipper’s responsibility to make sure they deal with the person they’re supposed to be dealing with. The relationship between a driver and broker is a business relationship. If you borrow money from a bank, they know who you are. Why didn’t the broker check out whoever called on the load?”
Hough also noted the size and security of a shipper like Anheuser-Busch, a company that would likely photocopy a driver’s CDL and might take video at its shipping facilities. Regardless, Hough said, fraudulent MC scams start with a freight broker contact.
Kevin, who had previously filled out a rate confirmation sheet with the freight broker, didn’t understand why the broker didn’t verify information as basic as phone numbers before allowing the caller to use his identity.
On documentation signed by one of the freight brokers, the phone numbers and identity of the individuals who negotiated the load from the drivers’ company do not match up with Kevin’s contact information on his rate confirmation sheet.
“The broker screwed up here,” Hough said. “The broker had a file on this carrier. It says who to call, who the contact person is. And then when it comes down to taking the load, they call a totally different person.”
The beer loads, valued at nearly $50,000 total, were later recovered at a warehouse. Because the beer was stolen and out of the chain of custody, the beer was discarded.
In October, OOIDA discovered Kevin had been blacklisted on some load boards after the stolen motor carrier identity problem that was no fault of his own.
Kevin said he didn’t know how long it would take for him to become untangled from the stolen load problems.
“I didn’t realize it was that simple to just take and use your information,” he said. “I’m fed up.” LL