The Department of Transportation is warning trucking companies of a recurring identity theft scheme involving a series of fraudulent letters from a fictitious DOT procurement officer seeking financial information from the targeted companies.
The latest round of fake letters, dated March 16, are purportedly from the "U.S. Department of Transportation Procurement Office" and signed by the fictitious name of "Julie Weynel," according to a notice posted in late March on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) website. The FMCSA, a sub-agency of DOT, regulates the safety of the nation's motor carriers.
The faxed letters ask recipients to provide bank account information on an "Authorization to Release Financial Information" form, according to FMCSA. The letter is typically signed by someone claiming to be a "Senior Procurement Officer" at DOT and appears on U.S. Department of Transportation letterhead containing a Washington, D.C., address, but with little other identifying information, the agency said.
DOT procurement representatives only request financial information in reference to specific contracts awarded, FMCSA said. DOT does not request financial information from prospective contractors wishing to submit a bid proposal or a quote. In addition, all direct communication from DOT is accompanied by detailed contact information, FMCSA said.
FMCSA has advised truckers not to respond to the fraudulent correspondence.
Such tactics have been on the DOT's radar screen since 2005 and have occurred periodically over the years with scam artists using various fake names in an effort to illegally gather financial data from truckers. The name "Julie Weynel" that is being used in the latest round of letters has been used several times in the past, the agency said.
FMCSA has asked companies wishing to report a fraudulent request for information to contact the DOT's Office of Inspector General (OIG) hotline at (800) 424-9071.