28 charged in swindling $1.7 million from trucking companies

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As part of what the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office is calling a “sophisticated money-wiring scheme,” 28 people have been charged in a 97-count indictment for allegedly stealing money from trucking companies in the U.S. to the tune of $1.7 million.

The ICE — a branch of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security — has been investigating the issue for two years, it says. The 97 counts included charges of conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering in a scheme that skimmed money from the victimized trucking companies, says ICE, by fraudulently obtaining account numbers and codes used by independent trucking companies to wire money.

The scheme occurred from February 2011 to November 2012 by using electronic fund processing companies like Fleet One, Comdata and TCH, which transfers funds from trucking companies to drivers. The money is obtained by providing information to customer service reps at certain truck stops, where drivers receive their check.

The defendants had obtained account numbers and codes used by the companies to transfer money and would visit truck stops in Ohio and elsewhere, pose as drivers, present the information and get the checks, which they would then endorse and cash at the truck stop.

They then laundered the money overseas and back to the U.S., ICE says.