August 9, 2023—CCO has filed legal action in Texas against three individuals and one company for claims arising from a scheme to fraudulently certify individuals, including claims for fraud, unfair competition, copyright infringement, breach of contract, and conspiracy. The defendants are Dan Chavez, Luisa Torres, Pedro Hernandez, and Coastal Bend Crane Certification.
In early 2022 CCO received information that led to the discovery of a scheme to fraudulently certify individuals through CCO by falsifying written and practical exam scoresheets for candidates. Over the next year CCO conducted a lengthy investigation, including analyzing thousands of exam scoresheets and interviewing a large number of individuals.
Through its investigation, CCO discovered that defendant Chavez had been offering and selling “test insurance” to CCO candidates. The “test insurance” offered was for guaranteed passing scores on CCO exams leading to CCO certifications. In some instances, Chavez fraudulently collected as much as $6,000 or more from each candidate who participated in the scheme.
As set forth in CCO’s complaint, Chavez would falsify candidate written examinations through CCO’s Paper-Pencil Testing (PPT) modality as well as practical examinations. This led to CCO revoking his credentials.
Even after his CCO credentials had been revoked, Chavez continued to defraud CCO candidates by simply taking their money and not providing any services whatsoever. Chavez would advertise on Facebook to offer training and CCO testing under the business name Coastal Bend Crane Certification, but after candidates paid thousands of dollars to Chavez for “VIP treatment,” Chavez would no longer respond to attempts to contact him. Chavez has even claimed to be a CCO employee who was authorized to “fix” exams.
Consequences for Candidates and Certificants
Based on its investigation, CCO was forced to invalidate nearly 1,000 written and practical exams with evidence of collusion and/or lack of reliable evidence of validity. Nearly 300 candidates with invalidated exams were required to retake their exams to validate their original passing scores. Only 14% of the candidates required to retest successfully validated any exams. Many candidates who attempted to retest failed their exams by a wide margin, while most candidates did not attempt to retest at all. Consequently, a large number of certificants had their certifications withdrawn.
In addition to requiring candidates to retest to validate their original scores, CCO opened investigations against nearly 200 of the certificants/candidates involved. CCO analyzed multiple factors in these cases, and after extensive discussion and deliberation, referred 136 individuals to the CCO Ethics and Discipline (E&D) Committee. After reviewing each case on its merits and holding a series of hearings, the E&D Committee imposed program sanctions on more than 100 candidates and certificants based on forensic and other evidence of misconduct.
The Impact on Public Safety
CCO’s mission, in part, is to develop effective performance standards to provide fair, valid, and reliable assessments and to be the leader in providing certifications for those who work in and around load handling equipment. The integrity of CCO’s exams and certifications is an essential element in advancing this mission.
Employers, site owners, and others on the jobsite rely on CCO certification as documentation that only those who demonstrate sufficient knowledge and skill in safe equipment operation—by passing written and practical examinations that are valid and reliable—are certified.
The actions of the defendants involved in this case directly jeopardized the safety and life of those in the industry.
CCO has always taken, and will continue to take, reports of cheating and fraudulent activity very seriously. It is important not just to protect CCO and the value of certification, but every person who works in and around load-handling equipment.