Pilot Flying J Faces Mounting Legal Pressure over Fuel Rebate Fraud Scheme

pilot_flying_j_fraudA new lawsuit claims that Jimmy Haslam’s Pilot Flying J Travel Centers  committed rebate fraud on a fuel program it offers.

The lawsuit was filed recently by an Alabama trucking company, Wright Transportation Inc., that says Flying J Travel Centers failed to give the fuel rebates that it had offered. The lawsuit, which has been filed in a federal court in Alabama, seeks to join numerous other similar lawsuits filed against Pilot Flying J Travel Centers if class-action status is approved, according to a report from WEWS-TV in Cleveland, Ohio.

The trucking companies, such as Wright Transportation, claim that Haslam and the Pilot Flying J Travel Centers promised fuel rebates that were never awarded. The companies continued purchasing fuel at these ubiquitous truck stops thinking that they’d get rebates for the amounts they were purchasing.

According to our previous reports, Haslam is the owner of the NFL franchise Cleveland Browns and CEO of Flying J Travel Centers, the largest chain of truck stop and service stations nationwide and the fifth-largest private corporation overall. He has been accused in these lawsuits of being aware of the fraudulent scheme. Some companies that participated in the rebate program have lost as much as $1 million.

An affidavit filed in a Tennessee federal court earlier this year outlined how the company operated the fraud. The scheme worked through the company’s sales force. A salesman would enroll a trucking company in the fuel rebate program with Pilot Flying J Travel Centers. That trucking company would accrue a certain amount of fuel rebates based on its purchases at Haslam’s truck stops, but instead of receiving the full rebate amount, the company would be shorted. Based on our previous accounts, if a trucking company was due $10,000 in rebates from Pilot Flying J Travel Center, it would only get $7,500. The rest was taken by the company, and a salesperson would collect extra commission.

According to another recent report from TruckingInfo.com, a Minnesota trucking company decided to file a lawsuit against Pilot Flying J after it received a secondary fuel rebate check. R&R Transportation claims its lawsuit was filed after receiving the fuel rebate shortage check – something Pilot Flying J attempted to pass off as “a potential discrepancy” in that company’s fuel rebate account.

The federal affidavit filed against Haslam and his chain of stores claims that the CEO as well as Pilot Flying J President Mark Hazelwood were present at meetings with company sales people at which the rebate fraud scheme was openly discussed.

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