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For 3 Years, Scammers Ran Truckless Trucking Company 244

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, 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:2, Interesting)

    by nomadic ( 141991 ) <> on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @03:08PM (#25472519) Homepage
    2) Subcontract the job out.

    It's actually a very common business model, in this case it's improper because of all the computer hacking and lying.
  • Re:Wait... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dnoyeb ( 547705 ) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @03:15PM (#25472637) Homepage Journal

    They were not subcontractors. The criminals were imitating contractors and taking money in their name. When the real contractors showed up, the goods were there, but the money had been paid to someone else.

  • Re:yro? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by symes ( 835608 ) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @03:19PM (#25472709) Journal
    Why modded troll?? Seems harsh for a genuine question.
  • Well.... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by dedazo ( 737510 ) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @03:23PM (#25472761) Journal

    Illegal or not, I have to grudgingly admit I'm impressed by this. After all, they were just acting as middle men and taking a slice off the top.

    Slick, however you look at it.

  • by Toll_Free ( 1295136 ) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @04:26PM (#25473751)

    Why didn't you just press the kill switch or pull in the clutch?

    Kawasaki 750 turbo motorcycle. Gets moving PRETTY quick, especially when I found out the original owner had done the "race mode" modification of changing two wires on the ECU. Turns off the wastegate on the turbo, so basically, as much boost as that little hairdryer would spool, is what I was running at. From noticing the problem to the accident was all of about 2 seconds. Not a whole lot of time.

    Went from 50 to 130 in about a couple carlengths.

    Was trying to get the throttle unstuck, as I was on a straightaway.

    Problem is / was, when I tried to "unstick" the throttle, the right grip came off, instead of "unsticking" the throttle. My right hand fell, because of the imbalance, my left hand lurched forward, and in the instant that happened, the left hand pushed the bike into a HARD rt hand turn.

    I ran straight into a construction barricade, thrown > 100 yards down an embankment. Rt leg in 4 pieces, triple compound fracture (2 of the "compounds" consisted of nothing more than bone frags that shot out, one at my knee, one under my ankle), shattered rt hip and a broken rt shoulder.

    The ONLY reason I'm alive is that an ambulance SAW the accident, and had lifeflight in the air before they got to me.

    If anyone attending Stanford is reading this, please give Dr. Desmund my regards, or, more to the point, the entire "red" ortho team from UC Stanford. They brought me back, as well as lifeflight. I owe them my life, as well as so do my kids.

    Funny thing, I don't remember as well as I used to lol.


    Disclaimer: I have ridden, this year, 20 years. When California enacted the helmet law, I parked my bike. Has been non-opped for nearly 10 years now. I HATED helmets. I still think it shouldn't be mandatory, but thank you that it was, otherwise I NEVER would have had one on. Helmets can, and DO, save lives.

  • by Toll_Free ( 1295136 ) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @04:40PM (#25474007)

    80,000 to 120,000 pound trucks.

    I assume you were doing heavy permit hauling since the weight limit on the U.S. national highway system is 80,000 pounds.

    No, I own a hotshot company. 33K pounds and less.

    I was talking of someone operating illegally, as indicated on

    And although you can go up to 80K pounds INTERSTATE, INTRASTATE commerce (within the state lines) is governed by the state DOT.

    IE, you can go up 100K pounds in Oregon, and their length laws are different.

    Each state has their own operating laws. California is a bunch of bitches, considering they say it's to keep the highways "nice", and the highways here SUCK, for lack of better terms.

    I have, in the past, hauled heavy permits. I have friends that have hauled close to a million pounds. Takes LOTS of dollies (those things like you see the BIG cranes going down the road using)... I've seen on highway 80, over 150 tires on the road, both sides of the freeway shut down, and state trooper / highway patrol units escorting. They usually have 1 "control" truck, and many other trucks that either push or pull the load. At least 1 "spare" truck is also in the lineup so that they can keep under way if something happens.

    Gotta keep them highways open. It's wierd, though, to see some HUGE tank coming at you, with a bunch of trucks pulling it, and they take every offramp they can. The freeway will be stopped RIGHT before an overpass, the truck coming at you exits, comes back on the entrance, and you get to go past them while they are exited.


  • Too Much Supply... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sweatyboatman ( 457800 ) <sweatyboatman AT hotmail DOT com> on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @05:43PM (#25474999) Homepage Journal

    ...Chasing too little demand.

    Not that I don't sympathize with the plight of the trucking industry, but it sounds like the business model you're describing is no longer profitable.

    The problem with the trucking industry is not illegal immigrants or unscrupulous competitors. The business you describe should, in theory, be able to attract clients willing to pay more for licensed drivers and adequate insurance. And yet they are still operating with razor thin (and even negative) margins. Most likely because their are just too many legal operations in competition for too little business.

    Singling out "mexicans" (ignoring the varied origins of the local Latino population) strikes me as being quite explicitly racist in this context. You are using people of a different cultural background and physical appearance as a scapegoat for problems caused by the inherent weaknesses in your industry.

  • by tedu_again ( 980692 ) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @07:38PM (#25476387)
    When was the FBI contacted?
  • Re:Wait... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lord Flipper ( 627481 ) * on Thursday October 23, 2008 @12:38AM (#25478453)

    Also, if pocketing all the cash results in a low take for the scammers, think how little the legit truckers must get in profits under normal circumstances!

    That's a very good observation. I recall reading, a number of years ago, that since President Reagan's days there was a lot of deregulation in trucking, partly in an effort to break the Teamsters. And, as a result, the collateral damage was a large increase in longer hours behind the wheel, a marginally capable pool of 'new' immigrant drivers and the NAFTA, which had a lot of Mexican truckers, who were obviously unfamiliar with US highway driving, crossing all the way to Canada and East.

    Over the last 15 years or so the number of trucks increased about 40% but the number of miles driven nearly doubled. Also, the number of automobiles involved in fatal crashes with trucks declined by around 40%, but trucker fatalities only dropped by about 6%. I'm not saying that 'proves' anything, but it certainly looks like truckers, on average, are pulling more miles, and getting themselves killed in solo accidents, as a result. [My brain isn't hooked-up for math, tonight, but before the declines in fatalities, on the highways, in general, 2/3 of the accidents involving big trucks were caused by cars, so, if auto fatalities, in general, have declined, and they have, then truck fatalities should have also declined at a much better rate, if all things were considered equal]

    Driving a truck is no party. I used to drive a car, heheh, about 100,000 miles a year. And I remember, mid-to-late 80s or so, realizing that a fair number of trucks, out on the Interstates, late at night, seemed to do little things that they didn't do in the 'old days.' Truckers used to be the best drivers on the road, and they very well might still be. But that is one tough way to make a decent living.

    I only drove a cab for a few years, a piece of cake compared to a transport truck, and even that was a bit rough. I leased my car 24/7, and there were plenty of times I could drive, but not walk (not without a great deal of discomfort). No doubt truckers are suffering a lot of physical ailments, besides having to avoid a-holes cruising in their blind spots, and all the other crazy shit that cars and their drivers come up with.

    I know how tempting it is to be more amused at the two Russians' clever little scam, but driving long hauls, and not getting compensated, because of a couple of scumbags? If there's any justice Vlad and his pal will end up in a joint, on a block with some Teamsters. I guarantee they won't be laughing and feeling so fucking smart then.

You know, Callahan's is a peaceable bar, but if you ask that dog what his favorite formatter is, and he says "roff! roff!", well, I'll just have to...