News and Press Releases

New York men accused of $200,000 scheme targeting trucking Companies in 20-Count Indictment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Oct. 12, 2012

A federal grand jury sitting returned a 20-count indictment charging Laquan Smith, age 24, of Bronx, New York, and Tyrone Wigfall, aka Tyrone Simmons, age 58, of Brooklyn, New York, with conspiracy and wire fraud for their roles in a scheme to defraud trucking companies out of about $200,000, said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

The indictment charges that from in or about March 2011, and continuing to in or about September 2011, Laquan Smith and Tyrone Wigfall fraudulently obtained account numbers and codes used by independent trucking companies to wire money to the companies’ drivers. They accomplished the objectives of the conspiracy and wire fraud as set forth below.

Electronic fund processing companies (EFP) such as Fleet One, Comdata, and TCH are used by trucking companies to electronically transfer funds to truck drivers at truck stops and other locations throughout the country. Drivers typically obtain the money by providing information to a customer service representative at a participating truck stop. That information is then relayed via wire to an EFP processing center. Once the EFP has authorized the request for money, the truck stop will issue a check to the driver who then cashes it.

From in or about March 2011, and continuing to on or about September 2011, known and unknown individuals obtained account numbers and codes used by trucking companies to issue checks through EFPs. These account numbers and codes were obtained without the knowledge or consent of the trucking companies. The known and unknown individuals then provided the stolen account numbers and codes via telephone calls or text messages to Laquan Smith and Tyrone Wigfall, according to the indictment.

Smith and Wigfall traveled to truck stops in the Northern District of Ohio and elsewhere. Once at the truck stops, they posed as truck drivers, approached customer service counters, presented the stolen account numbers and codes, and requested checks from EFPs such as COMDATA, Fleet One and TCH, according to the indictment.

Customer service representatives at the truck stops then processed the requests by sending the account numbers and codes via wire to EFP processing centers located outside the Northern District of Ohio. The EFPs then authorized the requests and authorized the truck stop customer service representatives, via wire, to print checks for Laquan Smith and Tyrone Wigfall. They then endorsed the checks and cashed them at the truck stops, according to the indictment.

In total, Smith and Wigfall fraudulently obtained a gross amount of more than $200,000, according to the indictment.

If convicted, the defendants’ sentences will be determined by the Court after review of factors unique to this case, including each of the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violations. In all cases, the sentences will not exceed the statutory maximum and, in most cases, it will be less than the maximum.

The investigation preceding the indictment was conducted by the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The matter is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David M. Toepfer.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

 

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