In their normal course of business, Business Consumer Alliance (BCA) comes across various scams and unscrupulous characters, whose sole purpose is to pull one over on unsuspecting individuals. In recent years a number of reshipping related scams have materialized. While the names of these tricksters change, their m.o. is typically the same. The scammers typically advertise or directly contact individuals with job offers for logistics managers, shipping directors, and delivery employee positions, offering attractive wages and sometimes bonuses. The offer involves the person accepting shipments at their home, inspecting the contents, repacking the items, and shipping the items to its final destination, oftentimes out of the country.
The crooks make their offers look legitimate in a variety of ways. They may conduct phone or online interviews, provide employment contracts, tax forms, collect information for direct deposit, and provide a web-based format to log in shipments. They also often take time to set up official looking websites and may even advertise membership with organizations such as BCA. These elaborate steps are taken in order to fool individuals into believing their offer is legitimate. Unfortunately, their offer is bogus and the unfortunate individuals that respond are in for a rude awakening. Even worse, they may unwittingly become part of an international theft ring.
These types of schemes are referred to as reshipping or parcel mule scams. The mules are the “employees” who are reshipping merchandise to other people involved in the scam. The goods are purchased with stolen credit card or banking information. The worker may even get paid for reshipping the products, but payment is often made from fraudulent accounts which are frequently shut down, or counterfeit checks are often sent as payment. Some have even received deposits to their accounts for far more than the agreed upon salary and then instructed by the scammers to forward the overpayment by wire transfer to someone else, usually a person in another country.
While these job offers may seem like a dream, you could be opening yourself up to a nightmare, including being held criminally liable for your part in the scheme. When the authorities follow the trail, they are often led to the worker, the easiest part of the chain to track down, instead of the true culprit. Any money received will be recovered as they are the proceeds of fraud and “employees” may be responsible for paying back the cost of the stolen goods. Furthermore, any shipping cost paid out-of-pocket for postage or supplies, with the hopes of being reimbursed, will never be recovered. In addition, responders are at risk of becoming victims of identity theft by supplying their information to the perpetrators when they apply for the fraudulent job offer.
BCA offers the following tips to help you avoid becoming a victim:
Be cautious about any unsolicited offers or opportunities offering you the chance to make easy money, especially offers from people or companies overseas, as it is harder for you to validate who they are.
Take steps to verify any company that makes you a job offer and check their contact details (address, phone number, email address, and website). Start by contacting BCA to inquire about the business.
Never give your bank details or personal information to anyone unless you know and trust them.
File a complaint if you have been victimized in order to warn others. Change your banking information and monitor your accounts and credit report closely for any fraudulent activity.
If you see an opportunity to make some easy money and the offer seems too good to be true, then it probably is. Take steps to avoid being ripped off by checking with BCA when you are considering any offer. BCA offers many tools to help you determine if an offer is a scam or not, such as our “Ask the Experts” forum. The information is free and may save you from becoming a scammer’s next victim.
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