In response to a letter from several senators and members of Congress, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General says it is committed to investigating double-brokering among freight carriers.
Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill., and several other lawmakers wrote to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General on May 22 to address the problems of broker fraud and other supply chain thefts.
“We write to share concerns regarding an area of increasing supply chain fraud and theft,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter. “Specifically, stolen truck loads and funding fraud schemes, when truckers drop off their loads but do not get paid, are disrupting freight hauling by truck and brokering.”
In an Aug. 22 letter to Braun, Bost and the other lawmakers, the Office of Inspector General said it would continue to collaborate with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to investigate double brokering and other fraud schemes.
“Recognizing the importance of preventing and detecting fraud, waste and abuse in our transportation system, we will continue to partner with FMCSA and the Department of Justice to investigate the most egregious allegations of household goods moving and double-brokering fraud, in addition to our primary focus on cases that align with OIG’s top investigative priorities,” DOT Inspector General Eric Soskin wrote in the response letter.
Although Soskin said his office is committed to combating the problem, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said that more needs to be done.
“FMCSA is moving in the right direction on finally ensuring brokers comply with federal transparency requirements, but it doesn’t seem like anyone at DOT has the tools, resources or motivation to tackle what has become rampant broker fraud,” said Collin Long, OOIDA’s director of government affairs.
The lawmakers’ letter said about 3,500 supply chain schemes are conducted each year and suggested the creation of a task force.
“The harm from such crimes also falls upon shippers, financial services, manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and consumers,” the lawmakers wrote. “The harmful economic ripples cause the cost of doing business to increase, as well as the price retailers, and consumers pay for replacement products and other uncompensated costs.”
OIG’s response did not address the lawmakers’ request for the creation of a task force.
Instead, Soskin highlighted the office’s efforts to combat household moving fraud and double-brokering. However, the number of investigations pales in comparison to the frequency of incidents suggested by Braun, Bost and others.
The OIG has investigated 25 cases of household goods moving fraud over the past five years, with 22 leading to convictions. Over the same period, the OIG has investigated 13 double-brokering cases with two leading to convictions.
OOIDA, which represents small-business truckers, said it has been hearing reports of scammers “hijacking” a motor carrier’s DOT number.
The Association encourages truckers to remain vigilant to defend against such scams and to report incidents to FMCSA’s National Consumer Complaint Database.
OOIDA also has been out in front of efforts to increase transparency in broker transactions. Last week, OOIDA urged FMCSA to follow through with previous promises to issue a rulemaking.