No leads on latest fraudulent letter scam targeting truckers

| 6/13/2008

Truckers are the latest targets in a long line of fraudulent letter scams seeking financial information on fake U.S. Department of Transportation letterhead stationary.

There have been at least 17 other fraudulent letter scams using fake DOT stationary in the past three years.

Omer Poirier, council in the DOT Office of Inspector General’s office, told Land Line Magazine on June 11 that the DOT doesn’t require trucking companies to submit financial information in order to be eligible for procurement contracts. He said the DOT definitely wouldn’t ask companies to submit sensitive information such as financial information by fax.

“That’s just not how we do things – that’s not how the government operates,” he said. “We just want to get the word out to make sure that no one falls victim to this latest scam.”

Truckers and trucking company officials should verify personally that they are sending their information to an authorized DOT official before submitting any sensitive information. The DOT’s main number is (202) 366-4000.

So far, Poirier said, he hasn’t heard of any trucking companies reporting financial losses associated with faxing in their financial information to the latest scammers. But in the past some have fallen victim to scams asking for financial information –losing as much as $20,000 when money was wired from their bank accounts.

Poirier also said he isn’t sure how many truckers may have received the most recent fake letters. However, the investigation into them was still ongoing as of Friday, June 13.

“The (FBI) and the Secret Service have both looked into this issue and typically they have come to a dead end because most of the time these people that are running these scams are operating outside the U.S.,” he said. “It’s been really difficult because we will get a lead and track it back only to find out they used a mailing service and paid with a stolen credit card.”

Although the fraudulent letters are signed with various names, all of them say they are from “senior procurement officer.”

Click here to see a similar version of the fake letter truckers recently received. DOT officials are urging trucking company owners and employees who responded to the financial information scam to contact the U.S. Secret Service office in their local areas and file reports with their local police departments. Also a hot line number, 1-800-424-9071, has been set up to assist truckers who may have submitted their financial information.

Trucking companies in at least three states – including Missouri, Virginia and Wisconsin – have reported receiving fake letters that state they are from the DOT’s procurement office.

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer