Man-in-the-Middle Trucking Attack
For over three years the pair hacked into a Department of Transportation website called Safersys.org, which maintains a list of licensed interstate-trucking companies and brokers, according to an affidavit (.pdf) filed by a DOT investigator. There, they would temporarily change the contact information for a legitimate trucking company to an address and phone number under their control.
The men then took to the web-based “load boards” where brokers advertise cargo in need of transportation. They’d negotiate a deal, for example, to transport cargo from American Canyon, California, to Jessup, Maryland, for $3,500.
But instead of transporting the load, Lakes and Berkovich would outsource the job to another trucking company, the feds say, posing as the legitimate company whose identity they’d hijacked. Once the cargo was delivered, the men invoiced their customer and pocketed the funds. But when the company that actually drove the truck tried to get paid, they’d eventually discover that the firm who’d supposedly hired them didn’t know anything about it.
Actually, not so clever. I’m amazed it went on for three years. You’d think that more than a few of the subcontracters would pick up the phone and call the original customers—and they’d figure out what happened. Maybe there are just so many trucking companies, and so many people who need cargo shipped places, that they were able to hide for three years.
But this scheme was bound to unravel sooner or later. If the criminal middlemen had legitimately subcontracted the work and just pocketed the difference, they might have remained undiscovered forever. But that’s much less profit per contract.