New EZ Pass scam costs local business $52,000

New EZ Pass scam costs local business $52,000 (Chris Papst/ ABC7)

EZ Pass owners beware.

It is strongly recommended by authorities that you check your online account. Some creative criminals have come up with a new way to cheat you out of your money - by stealing your EZ Pass and replacing it with a fake one.

This year, Chamberlain Contractors in Laurel, Maryland is celebrating 40 years. And for all of them Harold Green has led the way with his signature laugh.

In Green’s four decades, he’s seen a lot. But there’s one thing he didn’t see coming and he’s not laughing about it.

“It just never crossed our minds,” admitted Green. “I never would have thought an EZ Pass transponder could be a license to steal.”

This is a crime that is remarkably simple. First, the thief has to find a truck that is open that he doesn’t have to break into. Once inside, he takes your EZ Pass and replaces it with a fake one. In less than five seconds, a crime that can cost you for months, or at least until you figure it out.

Kim Boer is who figured it out at Chamberlain. Last summer, she noticed the company’s monthly EZ Pass bills didn’t look right. On a whim, she compared the GPS in a truck with the time and date of a recent toll charge. They didn’t match.

“I was really shocked,” admitted Boer. “I was trying to figure out how they were doing it.”

Boer analyzed 11 weeks of tolls in 2015 and found $52,000 in fraud involving company vehicles.

“I think I made my first call to our attorney,” remembered Green.

The I-Team has learned that Maryland EZ Pass, Transportation Authority Police and the U.S. Justice Department have launched investigations into this fraud which includes Chamberlain and other local companies. But due to the sensitive nature of the investigation, they declined comment.

Meanwhile, Green’s company is protecting itself. All their transponders have been personalized with simple designs. So if any are stolen and replaced, it will be noticed.

“I’d like to find who the culprits are and bring them to justice,” concluded Green.

Earlier this year, one stolen EZ Pass responder in Pennsylvania racked up more than $11,000. PA Police say it was used for a two year period before the owner, a transportation company, realized it.

So, what happens with all that stolen money Chamberlain owes EZ Pass? Lawyers for EZ Pass, Chamberlain and its credit card company are working to find a solution. Chamerlain doens't think it should have to pay the fraudulent charges. But, Chamberlain says, EZ Pass wants its money since the toll road was used.

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