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For 3 Years, Scammers Ran Truckless Trucking Company 244

Posted by timothy
from the trucker-in-the-middle dept.
mikesd81 writes "Wired reports Nicholas Lakes and Viachelav Berkovich are charged with computer fraud [PDF] for a man-in-the-middle attack that allegedly let them run a profitable trucking company without the hassle of driving a truck. For over three years the Russian immigrants hacked a Department of Transportation website called Safersys.org, which maintains a list of licensed interstate trucking companies and brokers. They then went on forums where brokers advertise cargo in need of transportation and negotiate a deal, for example, to transport cargo from American Canyon, California, to Jessup, Maryland, for $3,500. But instead of transporting the load, they would outsource the job to another trucking company posing as the legitimate company whose identity they'd hijacked. They would then invoice the company and take the money. When the company that owned the actual truck tried to contact the company that needed the goods delivered, they found they knew nothing about it. Over all they made nearly $500,000."
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For 3 Years, Scammers Ran Truckless Trucking Company

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  • Re:Wait... (Score:5, Informative)

    by rugatero (1292060) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @03:13PM (#25472615)
    It's improper because they didn't pay the damn subcontractors. It's incredible that they sustained it for three years.
  • by SkunkPussy (85271) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @03:19PM (#25472707) Journal

    informative?

  • Re:Wait... (Score:5, Informative)

    by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @03:27PM (#25472823) Journal

    No.

    The criminals imitated a legitimate trucking company, bid on and won loads, then subcontracted the actual hauling out to a second trucking company. When the load was delivered, the criminals would pocket the money. When the subcontractor that did the actual hauling would contact the legitimate company to get paid, the company wouldn't know anything about it because said company was impersonated by the criminals.

    The scam worked like this:
    Criminals hack into SaferSys.org and get the info of trucking company A.
    They would then go on a load board and bid on and win a load from company B.
    Then, as A they would contract trucking company C to haul the load for B
    When the load was delivered, B would pay the criminals thinking they were paying A.
    The criminals then disappear with the money.
    Meanwhile company C would contact A to get paid for actually hauling the load and A would have no idea what C was talking about.

    Got it?

  • Re:Well.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by gnick (1211984) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @03:36PM (#25472967) Homepage

    No, if that's what they were doing they could have set up a legitimate business and possibly been successful.

    They weren't "taking a slice off the top" - They were taking the whole pie, having the sub-contractors haul the loads they'd committed to, and then leaving the drivers uncompensated because they had in fact been hired by scammers rather than a legitimate contracting firm. Contacting the actual contracting firms did no good because they had no knowledge of the contract and the $$ had gone to the Russians.

    I admit that the summary was a little hard to follow - I had to read it a couple of times too - TFA makes the situation much more clear.

  • Re:Wait... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Zenaku (821866) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @03:37PM (#25472987)

    You're incorrect. The criminals would replace the phone number of an approved contractor with their own number, and then pose as that company when the customer with goods to ship called them up to arrange a contract. They'd then turn around and, still posing as the legitimate trucking company, subcontract the job to someone else who would actually pickup the goods and deliver them.

    Thus, the customer pays the criminals to move the goods, and the criminals get the subcontractor to do it, then they just don't pay the subcontractor. If the subcontractor wants to complain, he just ends up talking to the company that the criminals were impersonating, who has not been involved at all up to that point.

    The "real contractors" never show up to ship anything -- they are just the "fall guy" who the customer and subcontractor both thought they were dealing with.

  • by Toll_Free (1295136) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @03:41PM (#25473065)

    This has been going on for years.

    I OWN a trucking company now, and have been dealing with assholes like this for years.

    Whats becoming even MORE of a problem is the illegals who go out and steal (borrow) an MC and/or DOT number and slap it on the side of their truck. Then they "go to work".

    What with my insurance costing me > 1200 A MONTH, PER TRUCK, it is easy to see why someone would want to "run illegally". It's fairly hard to get caught, unless you run across state lines. Hence, most of the people don't.

    If your truck is titled, with a sticker for the correct weight, you don't go over it, and you don't have any other reason for a scale to flag you, then they don't pull you in. You don't get pulled in, you don't get busted.

    At the risk of being called a racist, the BIGGEST Lusers of this type of behavior, are mexicans. Period. And, this isn't a local trend (California), this is a NATIONAL trend.

    Whats sad is this: The idiots doing THIS scam didn't have to hack anything. All they had to do is look up a legit DOT / MC number for a BROKER, and then go into business with the same business name.

    And brokers licenses are CHEAP. Instead of my insurance rates (600/month liability (1 million dollars), 1000/6 months Cargo, 500/month basic liability (the 600 a month liability doesn't cover you, unless you have a loaded trailer or a load in the "box truck")). For a brokers license, you need a basic 10K dollar insurance policy. Costs, at most, about 250 a month, if you go to the right insurance agent. BOC3 filings cost another 100 a year.

    These people are the reasons trucking businesses are going out of business. It's hard enough having to make 3.00 a mile, when most freight will pay you 1.50 to 2.00 a mile. Then you get the .ru faggots in there stealing business, etc.

    They went even farther than that. According to the Owner / Operator Independant Drivers Association (http://www.ooida.org), they have pulled Russian's out of trucks who didn't speak A WORD OF ENGLISH, where UNABLE to properly identify 3 road signs, etc., and WHERE BEHIND THE WHEEL OF 80,000 to 120,000 pound trucks. However, if you REALLY research it, you can / will find that most people who are running illegally, carry names like Jose, Manuel, etc.

    Sad state of affairs, having to try to make money while people operating illegally are competing with you. Even sadder state of affairs when legal companies are getting profits skimmed off them from illegal brokers, and having to deal with Hose-A and Hose-B running illegally.

    Thank GOD I had dedicated accounts who paid me regularly, and everything else was handled COD.

    This isn't going to stop, nor is it going to go away. It's a fact of life, and until they do PrePass on EVERY truck (somewhat like RFID, but uses EasyTag type devices in the trucks), everyone who operates on the road has to deal with people like this.

    --Toll_Free

    (disclaimer: I took a motorcycle into a wall at 130MPH 6 or so months ago. My company closed at that time, so read into this what you will. Unfortunately, this WAS work related, the motorcycle was a customers, and the throttle cable stuck in a 3/4 gear shift getting the bike to my trailer.)

  • Re:Wait... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Toll_Free (1295136) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @03:43PM (#25473099)

    There is no hacking. Safersys.org is a website set up by the Federal Motorcarrier Safety Administration for the use of people to check out companies.

    Easy as pie, goto safersys, look at a company snapshot, and pick one to screw.

    Seems anyone able to use Google or Yahoo search engines could be called a hacker.

    The premise of the story is true. The story of hacking is bullshit.

    --Toll_Free

  • Re:In Other News... (Score:2, Informative)

    by winomonkey (983062) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @04:33PM (#25473853)
    And wear special hats ... "trucker hats," I believe they are called. A little bit of help from wardrobe, some minor social engineering, a little bit of that Ashton Kutcher flair, and it was time to start Punking the real truckers.
  • Re:Wait... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Toll_Free (1295136) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @05:01PM (#25474351)

    Reading the affidavit, they where actually recieving less for teh loads than they where promising to pay.

    IE, they would agree to move a load for 3400 dollars. Then sub it to someone else for 4K dollars.

    Kind of hard to make money that way, eh?

    --Toll_Free

"Irrationality is the square root of all evil" -- Douglas Hofstadter

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