Rental companies working together in the Equipment Rental Industry Group led to at least one arrest in Texas last week, according to Mike Marsalisi, senior manager corporate security, United Rentals.
On June 26, a man calling himself Jack and claiming to work for Turner Construction contacted Ahern Rentals’ Austin, Texas, branch. He was referred to an Ahern salesperson who took the equipment request and placed the items on “will call” through the inside sales department of Ahern Rentals to be picked up at the Austin branch.
“Jack” arrived at the branch driving a white panel van to retrieve the items – an EDCO concrete saw, a Stihl cutoff saw, and two APT air hammers. The man requested several other items that were not available at the branch. The sales staff arranged to later deliver them to the jobsite.
On Monday morning, the salesperson went to the jobsite location to deliver the equipment, only to discover there was no jobsite. A call placed to Turner Construction led to the discovery that the transaction was a fraud. A Turner representative told the Ahern employee that it was an ongoing fraudulent issue the company was aware of.
ERIG sent out an alert to all United Rentals locations in Texas on July 2. On July 7, a man who identified himself as Mike Jacobs with Turner Construction called United Rentals in Marble Falls, Texas, asking for the same type of concrete saws and other equipment mentioned in the alert. United branch manager Teresa Delgado remembered the alert and was immediately suspicious. She called the police department and an officer was dispatched to the branch.
On advice from the police, Delgado prepared the contract and waited for the customer to arrive for pickup. A man identified as James Priddy was arrested by police when he came to pick up the equipment. Evidence found in his possession indicated the scam was being attempted at many other rental locations in Texas. It is believed, said Marsalisi, that this same man picked up the stolen equipment from the Ahern Rentals branch in Austin.
The Equipment Rental Industry Group is open for any rental company to join. It works with the International Association of Financial Crimes and 3VR Crimedex. Contact Michael Marsalisi at United Rentals at [email protected] for a link to join ERIG.