Forty-four arrests have been made — and more are expected — after a two-year investigation revealed that truck drivers, dispatchers, company owners, and heating oil industry executives used rigged tanker trucks to scam New York residents out of an estimated $34 million worth of heating oil.
Truck Drivers and Dispatchers Shorted Customers
Investigators say that the defendants used bypass valves on tanker trucks to rig meters, shorting customers on heating oil but charging them the full price. In other cases, they would use a magnet to deliver air instead of fuel. In some cases, they went on to sell the stolen heating oil at below market prices. The elaborate scheme involved dispatchers using coded phrases to let the truck drivers know how much oil to steal from each customer. The truck drivers typically received $0.50 for every gallon of fuel that they stole.
Schools and Churches Among Fraud Victims
Authorities say that the victims of the scheme included schools, homeless shelters, churches, police stations, and residential home owners.
The defendants face charges of grand larceny, fraud, falsifying business records and enterprise corruption.
The companies that have been charged in the heating oil fraud are F&S Distribution, G&D Petroleum, G&D Heating Oil, Casanova Fuel Oil, Express Petroleum, 4th Avenue Transport, All-Boro Transportation, Enterprise Transportation, and Century Star Fuel.
Investigation Could Lead to More Arrests
The initial investigation says that the defendants stole around $34 million worth of oil, but investigators suspect that the scheme has been going on for decades and that the amount stolen was far bigger.
The investigation is still going on and authorities expect more arrests soon.