A con game that targets truck driving schools and carriers with student training programs is reportedly scamming money from student truck drivers.
Bob Harrigan, training manager for Star Transportation Inc., has asked us to spread the word on this scheme to protect new drivers from being victimized.
Harrigan was first notified of the problem by Sandra Goforth of Alliance Tractor Trailer Training Center in Arden, N.C.
According to Goforth, a man identifying himself as "Johnny" called Alliance, presenting himself as a driver recruiter. His demeanor is very professional, she said, and he appears to know a lot about the carriers he claims to represent (fleet size, pay scales, equipment, etc.).
Apparently, he uses this technique to obtain lists of truck driver school attendees/graduates with their phone numbers.
The scammer then calls the student and identifies himself as carrier management. He tells the unwitting driver that he/she has been hired and convinces the victim to send him money for additional training expenses.
The students are led to believe they are doing what's required to get the job. They're asked to send the money via Western Union, so the crook can pick it up anywhere.
Goforth said "Johnny" occasionally calls from the phone number (912) 238-1019, which she has learned is a pay phone at a Savannah, Ga. Greyhound Bus station.
"On the evening of 1/22/08, one of our student attendees in our driver orientation at Star Transportation was contacted by phone while staying at our off-site lodging facility in Nashville," says Harrigan. "The caller identified himself using the name of our recruiting department supervisor. The student accepted the caller as legitimate."
Harrigan said the caller insisted that when the student completed orientation he would immediately be assigned to a truck and a load to South Carolina. "Our student responded that his experience level would not allow him to do any such thing and the conversation ended."
The next day, the student driver reported the phone call to the orientation supervisor.
As the morning progressed, the student was contacted by his wife saying that she had received a phone call at their home, and the caller identified himself as "Jim Davis" from Star Transportation. Star has no such employee.
The caller asked for the driver's wife by name. He then convinced her that her husband was on his way to Myrtle Beach, S.C., with a load, that he needed money, and that she should immediately wire him $200.
The wife fell for the ploy and sent the money through Western Union, as directed by the scammer. The recipient was to be named "Star" and that's how the money was sent and picked up. The scammer had called from a Verizon pay phone (843) 448-8352, Harrigan says.
A police report has been filed on the incident. Two other student drivers at Star Transportation reported receiving similar calls that same day.
"Our recruiting department is now telling all student applicants about this scam, and that no one from Star Transportation will ever call them or their families asking for money to be sent anywhere for any reason," Harrigan says. "Students are being told that if they receive such a call, they are to report it immediately to Star Transportation and to law enforcement."
On the same day the Star driver was scammed, it happened to a student at Covenant Transport in Chattanooga, Harrigan says, and another at Werner Enterprises.
"There is great concern as to how the scammer(s) are obtaining detailed information about the students and the company representatives," Harrigan says. "This problem affects the entire transportation industry and the word needs to get out quickly."
We hope this helps, Bob. The industry is struggling hard enough to bring safe, qualified people onboard as truck drivers. Having those drivers get ripped off before they get started certainly won't help the cause.