Nearly every industry in the world is dependent on trucks, and with the driver shortage, there is money to be made hauling goods. This has led to potential drivers, trucking schools and in some cases, even the DMV getting involved in fraudulent schemes to get more drivers CDL licenses. Truckers carry special licenses and are specially trained to operate their large vehicles because they know how dangerous carrying their heavy loads are. CDL fraud is not just a trucking problem. It’s an everyone problem because when these drivers illegally obtain these licenses and are put on the road, everyone is in danger.
Florida trucking school CDL-testing scheme
Last fall, the owner of a Florida trucking school, Ellariy Medvednik, plead guilty to conspiracy to unlawfully produce Florida drivers licenses and help Russian drivers that don’t speak English obtain commercial driver’s licenses. His scheme was discovered when information from the Florida Highway Patrol and Orange County Tax Collector’s Office showed that hundreds of people were using the same address on their CDLs. The address was that of the trucking school.
Medvednik and others helped students cheat on the CDL written exam and also provided false certification documents so students could satisfy Florida CDL residency requirements. He also used the same third-party testing contractor for the road skills portion of the test. Students were passed even if they did mistakes that should have resulted in automatic failure. The third-party contractor also passed students knowing that they could not understand English, which is a requirement for a CDL. It is estimated that anywhere from 400-600 students obtained fraudulent CDLs in Florida, which had a major effect on many Florida truck drivers.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) threatened to cancel about 2,000 driver’s commercial driver licenses. And that means that truckers had to retake –and pay to take their test again or risk losing their license, which meant losing their jobs. The reasoning behind disrupting the livelihood of thousands of drivers: a federal fraud investigation that involved Medvednik.
Medvednik was a traveling tester, visiting various Florida trucking schools. He admitted to passing many drivers that failed their CDL test in exchange for cash. It is for that reason that drivers were required to retake their exams—and pay about $300 for that test. The Florida DHSMV had this to say, “There will be some drivers unfairly affected by this, but we are requiring drivers to be retested as an overabundance of caution.”
California DMV bribery scheme
In California last fall, 6 people, were arrested in connection with a bribery conspiracy to issue licenses for truckers without requiring them to pass the test. The scheme involved 3 truck driving school owners and 3 California DMV employees. For about $5,000 each, about 100 commercial driver licenses were issued to unqualified individuals, allowing them to operate some of the largest vehicles on the road.
Driving school owners would act at brokers and accept money from people that wanted Class A CDLs without having to take the mandatory written and behind-the-wheel exams. The driving school owners would then use the money to bribe DMV employees to access the DMV computer database. DMV employees would modify or falsify information to make it seem that individuals passed the test so licenses could be issued.
Those 100 truckers have had their licenses suspended; along with over 500 other licenses that the DMV said appear suspicious. However, the damage has been done with up to 23 crashes have been linked to the truckers that held these licenses. Though none of these crashes were fatal, it demonstrates how dangerous it is to have these drivers on the road.
CDL fraud schemes in New York
Brooklyn CDL test-taking scheme
In 2013, 11 employees of New York’s DMV were arrested in connection with CDL testing fraud. At five different NYC-area testing centers, applicant paid anywhere from $1,800 to $2,500 for answers to the CDL test as well as escort assistance through the DMV process. Though indicted in 2013, the last defendant was not sentenced until just last month.
The CDL exam is given in a multiple-choice format, or an audio format with true and false questions but both formats require the applicant to fill out a paper answer sheet. DMV employees provided applicants with specially coded pencils that would give them the answers to the audio versions of the exam. The DMV employees also acted as CDL test takers to help other paying applicants pass the test. In a five-month period, more than 60 people obtained fraudulent CDLs.
Brooklyn NY couple forced to forfeit $175,000 in CDL fraud case
In January of last year, the owner-operators of a Brooklyn commercial driving school plead guilty to fraud in connection with a CDL fraud scheme that led to upwards of 500 CDL applicants passing the exam.
The couple helped many non-English speaking applicants cheat on the exam by providing covert camera equipment that would be used to show the question so that someone could provide them the correct answers remotely. They used some sort of pager system that would beep a specific number of times to denote which answer was correct.
A federal judge ordered the couple to forfeit $125,000 cash, assets of $50,645 in seized bank funds, a car used in the commission of the crime and 100 hours of community service.
False CDL test results in Louisiana
A third-party CDL tester was charged last month with falsifying CDL test results. Christopher Pender was certified to administer the tests by the Louisiana Department of Public Safety’s Office of Motor Vehicles, but he was not just administering tests. Instead, he would accept cash payment in exchange for a Commercial Driver’s Skill Test Certificate. These applicants never had to take the test, and with their certificate, could obtain a commercial driver’s license.
What are your thoughts? Have you ever encountered someone that was not willing to put in the effort to become a commercial truck driver? Let us know in the comments below!