Re-shipping Scam Exposed
Attention: Consumers targeted by re-shipping scams are considered to be at risk of identity theft. We highly recommend that everyone targeted by similar scams obtain identity theft protection service immediately. There are several companies that offer identity theft protection in the US. One of the most inexpensive options we were able to find is the protection offered by LifeLock. You can start your protection here.
One of the most dangerous scams that you will encounter is called a "re-shipping scam." This scam is mostly operated by scammers from Eastern Europe.
Here's how the scam works:
First, scammers create a professional looking website, sometimes so well-crafted that it's difficult to determine if the company is a scam or a legitimate organization. The company is usually associated with a shipping intermediary or a merchandise inspection company.
Scammers find potential victims on websites such as Yahoo! Jobs or Career Builder. They may create job listings on Craigslist and similar classified websites. After contacting a hopeful employee and conducting an online interview, the victim is "hired". Their task is to receive and inspect packages before shipping them to a predetermined location.
After passing the interview, the company has their new "employee" provide them with banking information, a shipping address, and their social security number to process weekly pays.
In reality, the company then keeps the employee’s personal information to use in a future identity theft scheme.
After hiring several individuals as "merchandise inspectors", scammers begin to order and ship merchandise using fraudulent credit cards. The credit cards usually belong to unsuspecting US consumers and were acquired by hacking online stores and financial institutions.
For example, Home Depot recently announced that over 40 million consumer files were compromised by a group of hackers. This information usually ends up on Internet forums dedicated to selling, buying, and exchanging personal data.
There are few reason why this scam is successful:
1. Sales made and shipped to a US address stay under the radar, as scammers use VPN services to conceal the origin of their IP address.
2. Suspicions would rise if the same address in a foreign country received hundreds of packages per month. By sending them to US addresses, scammers are able to successfully stay undetected.
Victims unknowingly assist scammers in transporting stolen merchandise overseas by being "employed" by these organizations.
We strongly recommend the following steps to avoid legal liabilities if you find yourself involved in these operations:
1. Immediately cut all ties with the organization.
2. Make several copies of receipts and any other recorded communication that you have with the scammers.
3. Return un-shipped merchandise to the Post Office. Speak to a Post Office manager or an official inspector. Explain the situation and present them with your copied paperwork.
4. Report the organization to ScamGuard by clicking here (will open in a new window).
5. Contact a local non-emergency police line to report the organization with copies of your paperwork. Keep original paperwork for your own records.
6. An identity theft may occur because scammers now possess your personal information. Read the following article about identity theft protection (will open in a new window) and sign up for protection services through LifeLock (will open in a new window).
Following these steps will reduce your chances of responsibility in connection to this scam. We hope that this information was helpful and please share with your friends and loved ones.