Rick Hodges, executive director of the Ohio Turnpike Commission, told this newspaper a turnpike ticket scam, that may have cost the OTC as much as $100,000 per year, has been uncovered.
It impacted western Fulton and Williams counties, because it placed more trucks on local roads.
In a telephone interview, Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 14, Hodges said the scam was originally uncovered about nine months ago.
The commission’s toll-ticket reading software has been updated to prevent further abuse, Hodges said.
How It Worked
Scammers, usually drivers of commercial trucks, would get on one end of the turnpike. The truck then travels across the state, getting off at the opposite end
For example, a truck enters the turnpike at the Westgate interchange in Williams County, and gets off the turnpike at the Eastgate interchange in Mahoning County.
The scammer tells the toll collector he lost the ticket.
If a driver loses a ticket, the toll is the maximum amount. For a semi, that’s $44.
Then, on the return trip, the driver gets on at Eastgate and travels as far as the Wauseon, Archbold, or Bryan-Montpelier exits.
There, the driver exits the toll road but uses the ticket he got from Westgate. That fools the toll collector or toll-collection machine into thinking the truck had come from Westgate to the western exits.
For a semi, the fare for the short drive from Westgate to Archbold is $4.75, saving the scammer $39.25.
Hodges said the scam was discovered when turnpike offi cials began looking at some of the dates encoded on the toll tickets.
Some showed vehicles had been on the toll road as long as 11 months.
While the loss of $100,000 a year isn’t much when compared to a $250 million budget, Hodges said it put additional commercial vehicles on state highways at either end of the turnpike, increasing unnecessary truck traffic on those roads.
He said he didn’t know why someone would work so hard to scam the system, because the Ohio Turnpike has the lowest toll rates in the nation.
“Our staff is dedicated to maintaining the integrity of the toll system and insuring fairness on the turnpike,” he said.–David Pugh