One scheme has popped up so many times in the past few weeks, it’s hard to ignore. It’s an old favorite, at least for the bad guys, but it appears to be making the rounds again.
A few weeks ago, I got a call from a friend in the Treasure Valley who wanted to know about an email he had just received. Apparently, he had been offered a “job” to receive packages and re-ship them to other recipients. Who couldn’t use extra cash with minimal effort from home?
Then, Better Business Bureau serving North Alabama alerted consumers about a reshipping scheme had popped up in their area, complete with Alabama address. When BBB verified with the office plaza at the address, no such “company” was a tenant.
That same week, Better Business Bureau serving St. Louis reported the similar activity in their area. They reported the story of a man who received a camera, boots and motorcycle accessories among other items to ship. He was told he would make more than $2,500 per month.
The man said he became suspicious when one of the packages — containing a $1,500 underwater metal detector — included a notice warning the recipient that re-shipping the merchandise could be a crime. The man said he notified law enforcement authorities, who told him he had been duped.
Inspectors with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service warn that anyone who accepts packages and then re-mails them to other addresses is likely helping thieves smuggle stolen merchandise out of the country.
Postal Inspectors say criminals often recruit unwitting consumers by posting help-wanted announcements on internet job sites, advertising the work-from-home positions as “merchandising manager” or “package processing assistant.” Job seekers usually are promised salaries ranging from $2,000 to $4,000 a month but ultimately receive nothing. Or, if a check does come in the mail, it’s fraudulent.
If you come across a work-from-home job you’re interested in, take the time to research the company and keep in mind the following tips from BBB:
Avoid job listings that use these descriptions: package forwarding, reshipping, money transfers or wiring funds. These should raise a red flag.
Do not be fooled by official-sounding corporate names. Some scam artists operate under names that sound like those of long-standing, reputable firms.
Never forward or transfer money from any of your personal accounts on behalf of, or to, your employer. If a legitimate job requires you to make money transfers, the money should be withdrawn from the employer’s business account, not yours.
Do not give out your personal financial information. Only provide your banking information if a legitimate company hires you and you choose to have your paycheck direct deposited.
Do not send copies of your ID or Social Security number to someone you have never met. Credit checks and fake IDs can be obtained with this information. Only give these documents to your employer when you are physically at the place of employment.
If you feel you are a victim of a scam, report it. You can file a complaint with the Postal Inspectors, with the FTC, or warn others on BBB’s Scam Tracker.