Catching scammers, like trying to push water back up a waterfall
Posted on 30 Mar ’10 by Earl Moore
A little unsolicited excitement entered my life last week.
After mowing the yard last Tuesday afternoon I had a voice mail on my phone from a gentleman at one of the large on-line camera stores who said it was important I call him back. I’ve made purchases from this company before, but the last order was almost a year ago.
When I call him back he mentioned how much they appreciated my business and the recent orders — RECENT ORDERS, WTF?
As I was speaking to him I was also signing into on-line banking and about the same moment he mentioned the recent orders I saw my credit card had multiple fraudulent charges totally about $7000. There were 9 orders spaced out between March 11th and the 24th, but only to this one company. He explained he had become suspicious because the delivery address had been changed from the one used for last years orders, but it was still an address in Salisbury and still the same ZIP Code, so they thought perhaps I’d moved — at least that’s what he said. The new “delivery address” was only four miles from my house!
I ended the call after making it clear to him I had not ordered anything this year. I immediately call my bank and reported the fraudulent charges — the charges were removed and the card was cancelled with a new one to be issued in a few days.
Upon hanging up from the bank, the gentleman from the on-line company called again and said that one package worth $2700 had been shipped and upon checking with UPS, had been delivered that morning to the “new address” — I told him I’d call the local Sheriff Office to see if they could recover the recently delivered package.
A call to 911 soon had a Sheriff’s Deputy at my house taking down all the information. I heard a couple of days later he visited the delivery address that afternoon and recovered the package.
The lady who lived there said she’d answered an ad in the local newspaper for an at home job which involved repacking items which were shipped to her home and then shipping them to Russia and other overseas locations. She claims she didn’t know the merchandise was illegally gained and had been doing this “job” for a while. She produced detailed records of all the shipments made. She also shared information of someone else in a nearby town who had the same “job.”
I’ve seen ads for these “jobs” posted at various places on-line and in newspapers, but I always knew they were less then legal. Perhaps with the economical hard times more people are willing to take a chance on earning money even if it sounds too good to be true.
The Sheriff’s department working closely with the on-line retailer were also able to locate a third suspicious local drop point.
This is certainly not a new story, it’s an old but hugely successful global scam — here’s a 2003 article that describes the exact same situation. The scam has lasted over time because it’s almost impossible to catch the real criminals who operate from these overseas locations and there’s no end of none-too-bright people looking for an easy “job” repacking and shipping packages.
Where did they get my credit card information? I suspect it was from a hacking/security leak of the on-line camera retailer which explains how the Russian thieves knew to select a local drop point within the same ZIP code as my original delivery address. I hope this is the end of my unwilling participation, but I’m monitoring my credit report carefully.