License to Defraud

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Certain vehicles and professions require a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Examples include operators of tractor trailers, box trucks, garbage trucks, limousines and school buses. An articleposted on TruckingInfo.com tells about two separate cases related to a CDL test-taking scheme in New York that issued hundreds of undeserved licenses to unqualified drivers.

The article states that an investigation led by the U.S. Transportation Department’s Office of Inspector General, plus federal and state law enforcement agencies, revealed that fraudulent CDL test-taking activities had occurred at five Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) test centers near New York City. Investigators were able to identify the perpetrators through the use of surveillance tools including remote observation posts and pole cameras. (The intelligence collected allowed law enforcement to identify DMV security personnel, a test-taker, facilitators, runners and lookouts participating in the scheme.)

In the first case, the fraud scheme was carried out by using pencils with miniaturized encoded answers, a Bluetooth headset for communicating test answers and a person positioned nearby to take the exam. (Do you think they read one too many spy novels?) CDL applicants paid facilitators between $1,800 and $2,500 for the exam answers, plus personal assistance throughout the DMV process.

In a separate case, the owners of a Brooklyn commercial driving school admitted to helping approximately 500 customers pass the CDL test. The school apparently provided a few customers with covert camera equipment to view the test and provide answers to test-takers through a pager system.

A test-taker from the first case pleaded guilty to her part in the fraudulent scheme. The husband and wife who owned the Brooklyn driving school agreed to forfeit $125,000 in cash and $50,645 in assets from seized bank funds, plus a vehicle used to commit the crime as part of their guilty plea. No information was provided regarding any of their sentences.

CDL holders are held to a higher standard than non-commercial vehicle operators because they must be more knowledgeable and skilled in driving their motor vehicle on public roads. (After all, you wouldn’t want just anyone driving a tanker full of hazardous waste.) Thanks to law enforcement, there’s a pretty good chance that lives have been saved and less traffic violations committed as a result of their actions. It’s a sure bet that these perpetrators will no longer have a license to drive or defraud.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Three Plead Guilty in CDL Scam,” posted on TruckingInfo.com on January 16, 2015.

Guilty pleas from three people have been secured by prosecutors in two related cases in connection with commercial driver’s license test taking schemes in New York.

On Jan. 12, Marie Daniel pleaded guilty after she was indicted, along with ten others, in October 2013 by a federal grand jury in Brooklyn.

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.