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Truck Topics

Scams, Schemes and Unseen Beings

By Sandy Long
Posted May 6th 2013 4:56PM

Since before credit cards, truckers have had a huge bull’s eye on their backs due to the large amount of cash they carried not only to buy fuel, but in collection of freight charges on the load hauled. While truckers now carry fuel, debit or credit cards and only enough cash to eat on, that bull’s eye remains in the eye’s of the bad folk in the world.

SCAMS

The latest in the scam division is when a supposed driver comes up and asks you about your company; like they are interested in coming to work there. While you are giving them the information, they are checking out your company name, truck number/trailer number and where your company is out of. Of course, you give them your name to claim that referral bonus if they come to work at your company. They walk away.

When they get out of sight, they call your company saying they are John Doe repair shop and they just did a repair of some sort and need paid using your name and truck number. When they get the comchek number or whatever type of check your company uses, they go in, cash it and bingo, they are gone with the company’s money.

An older one is the person selling cigarettes on the truck stop lot, dirt-cheap. They only hit on drivers that are in their trucks. The driver rolls down their window, the scammer does the sales pitch and when the driver holds out their money, the scammer grabs the money and runs, with the cigarettes.

If you have been driving any time at all, you have likely run into the jewelry sellers on the truck stop parking lots. They offer everything from ’24 karat gold chains’ to ”˜Rolex watches’ at rock bottom prices. Driver ”˜buys’ the little woman at home a lovely 1 carat ”˜diamond’ ring, but when she takes it in to get it sized at the jewelry shop, it is at best cubic zirconia and the gold will turn your skin green in a Minnesota second.

The floating poker game out behind the line of the back row has also been around for years. Someone ”˜stops to visit’ with you about anything then says in an aside, “hey, there is a bunch of dummies trying to play poker over there, easy marks. You ought to come with me and we can clean them out.” Guess who is going to be cleaned out either by a marked deck or a tire iron on the head.

SCHEMES

Driver, that older looking woman who comes up against the side of your truck at night and says she is broken down and/or, 1. Wants to use your radio to find a ride. 2. Needs ”˜just enough gas money to get home 100 miles away’. 3. Says her kids are over there in the car and hungry...is 99% sure to be lying and just wants your money in one way or another. Some men even use this scheme. Offer to buy the gas and pump it for her or take her and the kids inside and buy them food, they usually have an excuse why that would not work.

Sadly, even if you see a driver lying on the ground, you have to be very careful. Bob was sitting in a truck stop one winter’s day on the back row. First off, these four young guys came up and told him that some director was filming a movie and wanted all of the drivers who were up and sitting in their trucks to get out and walk into the building across the lot like they had business inside. Bob declined.

About a half hour later, Bob saw the same four guys walking along the back of the second row of trucks ahead of Bob. He watched as one guy went between two trailers and laid down like he had fallen on the ice while the other three hid peeking around the back of one of the two trailers waiting to see if someone came along to help the ”˜fallen driver’. Bob was ready to jump out of the truck, but thought instead to look up the truck stop number in his guide and give them a call to alert them. Within seconds, the truck stop manager and one of the male maintenance workers came speeding around the end of the row in their golf cart. The four guys took off running. The manager told Bob they had been trying to catch them for two weeks.

The other scheme those four were pulling on drivers, the manager related, was going up and telling a driver sitting in his truck that there was a naked woman in a car nearby. If the driver got out of his truck to go see, he was jumped, beaten and robbed.

There has been a scheme for years where a good-looking woman’s car appears to be broken down on the shoulder of a lonely stretch of road. When a driver would stop to help, her male partner, who had been hidden, would jump out and rob the trucker. There are a couple of new twists to this one. First is that it is two women working together to rob a highway knight, not a man and a woman.

The other is more insidious. Every driver of any duration will hit the shoulder to check their equipment if someone going by next to them motions that something is wrong; it is a trucker’s nature. However, these days, usually when leaving a rest area, a car driver will come up alongside a trucker and make the motions that something is wrong. When the trucker pulls over onto the shoulder, the car driver comes up and either robs them, kidnaps them to drive the truck to steal the load, or just highjacks the truck and load leaving the driver in the ditch.

UNSEEN BEINGS

No, not ghosts, but bad folk hiding out waiting to ambush a driver; most face to face attacks on truckers are ”˜blitz’ attacks or ambushes, unexpected. Most of these occur when a driver either is reaching up to unlock their truck, when the truck driver goes to bed and forgets to lock the doors of the truck, or when a trucker is walking around the truck and/or trailer to do the vehicle inspection and is distracted.

Tom parked near noon at an Arkansas truck stop to take a shower and grab lunch. He parked on the row facing the front of the fuel island in plain sight. When he came back, he sat his shower bag on the step of the truck and walked around doing a walk around inspection before leaving out. As he reached up to double check his padlock and seal, he felt cold steal against both sides of his neck. Two armed men with guns told him to give them his wallet; they grabbed the money out of it and took off. Tom, a Viet Nam veteran and trained in hand to hand combat beat himself up because he did not try to fight them off, hard to do with two guns against one’s neck.

Against any scams, schemes or unseen beings the only defense is to remain constantly on the alert and aware of your surroundings at all times. Keep the doors locked and the windows up if someone is around that looks suspicious, you are leaving the truck, or if you are going to bed. When you leave or return to your truck, check under it and around it for any sort of suspicious activity or people. Definitely remember two things, if it sounds too good to be true, it is usually false or fake, and if someone wants your money, the truck or the load, give it to them. Those things can be replaced, you cannot be.

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