Last time, we looked into Money Mule scams and how they could potentially land you in legal trouble for being an unwitting accomplice to money laundering. This time, we’ll look at the ‘reshipping’ scheme, another type of work-at-home scam.
Reshipping scams work almost identically to money mule schemes, except that instead of receiving electronic deposits and making outgoing wire transfers, victims are lured into accepting shipments of goods (usually electronics), repackaging them, and sending them to someone else. The criminal organizations recruit through job websites and via unsolicited emails, and may set up legitimate-looking websites to give the appearance of an established company.
Where did the reshipped goods come from? When cybercriminals steal things like credit card information, they have to have a way to turn that available credit into cash. Creating fake cards and getting cash advances in-person isn’t practical, so consumer goods are purchased using the stolen payment information. These goods are laundered by way of reshipping schemes, then sold off into the black market around the world. The cash generated from this is subsequently laundered via money mule scams and other methods.
Just as with money mule schemes, just being a victim of reshipping fraud can get you into trouble because you’re the only domestic, easily traceable link in the chain.
The internet is great for job hunting, but you have to be wary of offers that seem a little too easy or where the bar seems to be set too low. Remember that the majority of work-at-home offers are not legitimate employment opportunities. Anyone instructing you to, “Take this item, then give it to these other people for me,” is trying to conceal the origins of whatever it is they’re asking you to touch, whether money or consumer goods. They want you as the only traceable step in the transaction, and they’ve got a reason for wanting it that way.
The latest batch of scam alerts from the Internet Crime Complaint Center, a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) came out yesterday, and there are some interesting things going on out there.
I won’t past the entire text here, but the “Triangle Credit Card Fraud” was a new one to me. It works this way:
The first party is the fraudster who acts as a seller on a popular auction or marketplace site. The fraudster “sells” a product to the second party, the buyer that knows nothing about the scam. The buyer pays the seller for the product or service. The seller then needs to deliver the product or service to the buyer and does so by placing an order with the manufacturer of the product or service to the buyer and does so by placing an order with the manufacturer of the product or service, the third party. That order will contain the buyer’s information for shipping and stolen credit card information for billing. When the company receives the order, the billing and shipping information is all legitimate, thus it looks like an order being placed as a gift, so the company delivers the product or service.
That’s a big ball of text that takes a minute to decipher (and it seems to repeat itself at least once, but the underlying message is clear: you have to be really, really cautious when buying things from online auction sites.
The alerts also point out a new take on the old work-at-home scheme. This time, crooks are telling victims they submitted a resume online and using the names of well-known financial institutions and agencies (instead of the usual out-of-the-blue offer for mystery shopper work), then sending victims a fraudulent cashier’s check to purchase software or other supplies. Naturally, the victim then wires back the overage and ends up losing money. This time they’re finding victims because a vast number of people have been submitting resumes online, and I can tell you from experience: unless you’re a record-keeping ninja, it can get hard to keep track of what jobs you’ve applied for.