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California Man Gets 70-Months in Prison, Pays Restitution of $2.9 Million, and Forfeits $1.4 Million for Defrauding Trucking Companies

On June 29, Nicholas Lakes, aka Dimitry Livshits, a Russian citizen of Glendale, California, was sentenced to 70 months in prison for computer fraud, mail fraud, and aiding and abetting following a guilty plea. Mr. Lakes pled guilty to superseding information in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, CA. Mr. Lakes and his business partner, Viacheslav Berkovich of Los Angeles, CA, were involved in a scheme to defraud trucking companies. In June 2008, OIG began the investigation based on numerous complaints from other trucking companies. In their scheme, Mr. Lakes and Mr. Berkovich fraudulently established a trucking company and a broker company by illegally gaining access to the Safety and Fitness Electronic Records System or (SAFER) System, which is maintained by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Mr. Lakes and Mr. Berkovich accessed these websites to register and use fictitious brokerages to offer trucking loads and collect payment from the original brokers. This allowed them to “double broker” the trucking jobs to legitimate trucking companies that were never paid for their actual deliveries. Mr. Lakes and Mr. Berkovich then tricked legitimate brokers into paying them by attesting that their fraudulent companies actually transported loads. On October 28, 2008, an indictment charged both with computer fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud. Mr. Berkovich subsequently pled guilty on February 23, 2009, and will be sentenced later this year. Mr. Lakes was ordered to pay restitution to the victims in the amount of $2,897,629. Mr. Lakes will also forfeit a TD Ameritrade account containing $1,455,697.