Florida towing company charged with organized fraud
January 6, 2022
•Land Line Staff
A Jacksonville, Fla.-based towing company is accused of taking advantage of its business relationship with local law enforcement agencies as part of a scheme to overcharge customers to the tune of more than $100,000 during a two-year period.
These charges came after an investigation by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, which used the towing company to remove cars from crashes, found at least $104,569.97 in fraudulent billing, according to a News4Jax I-Team report.
The exorbitant bills were a result of the company charging more than set rates allow and for services not permitted by ordinance, according to the Jacksonville Sherriff’s Office investigation.
In addition, the Florida Highway Patrol, which also used the Gaylords’ company, claimed being overcharged 18 times from July 2020 to October 2020 in a letter sent to Southern Wrecker & Recovery.
The current charges follow a civil lawsuit by a former business partner against the father and son for allegedly taking $3.6 million from a business venture and using it for personal expenses, said the WJXT-TV I-Team report.
Neither law enforcement agency will use the services of the towing company, whose website says has been serving greater northeast Florida for more than 20 years, going forward.
The Gaylords each posted a $75,000 bond. There were no court dates pending for either party as of Jan. 6, according to Jacksonville Sherriff’s Office records.
OOIDA’s fight against overcharged tows
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has been working for years to address the issue of trucking companies being overcharged for third-party tows. OOIDA has filed complaints on behalf of its members. The Association also has worked various states to establish set rates, as well as avenues for a trucking company to file a complaint when it believes it was overcharged.
“Let me first say that there’s a lot of great towing companies in this country,” said Mike Matousek, OOIDA’s director of state legislative affairs. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with many of them. That said, it’s no secret that there’s also plenty of bad actors in the towing industry so these allegations aren’t shocking – they’re actually far too common. Thankfully there’s ongoing efforts to address these abuses all across the country, but it’s going to take time.”LL