With recent data showing that global e-commerce spending rose about 15% in 2019, totaling worldwide sales to $768 billion, means that more and more people are shopping online. Although it is more convenient, the downside is the rise of reshipping scams.
Reshipping scams target people who visit job sites, dating sites, chat rooms and those who shop online, according to the United States Postal Service. As consumers, it is important to be alert by understanding what it is and how to avoid falling victim to this type of scam.
What Is A Reshipping Scam?
Reshipping scams – also known as postal forwarding – come in many forms. Consumers are tricked into believing that they have landed lucrative job offers, fake “sweethearts” asking for help and charities seeking donations.
These scammers first steal your payment information from the sites you visit online and uses that information to purchase products. From there, they rope in people by offering them jobs to accept shipments at their private addresses, repackage the products and then reship them to different locations overseas such as Russia, Ukraine, Estonia, Lithuania, Romania and Germany. Some might even send you counterfeit money orders or checks, as well as counterfeit postage, to reship the items. You might be asked to deposit them, keep a portion, or wire the remaining amount somewhere else.
When you deposit a counterfeit check or money order, your bank will decline it and you will be liable for the full amount you deposited. Those who fall victim to the scam may be responsible for the shipping charges and the cost of the items purchased online.
So, not only will you lose hundreds of dollars, but you are also committing a crime because reshipping is illegal. You could be faced with criminal charges for mail fraud and other crimes, resulting in more than 10 years in jail.
Protecting Yourself From Reshipping Scams
It goes without saying that you must remain vigilant online, even when you’re on well-known sites such as Amazon and eBay. You should take advantage of the services your banks offer to protect you by signing up for email or text alerts for unusual activity on your credit cards and bank accounts. Be sure to immediately report any fraudulent or suspicious transactions to your bank.
- Do not accept any packages at your home or office from people you don’t know and do not accept calls from people who want you to reship their mail.
- If you have already received items from people you don’t know, do not mail them out. Instead, make photocopies or take photos of the return shipping information as proof of a possible scam and report it to your local law enforcement.
- You should always further investigate job opportunities that seem too good to be true with high pay and easy tasks like repackaging goods. Do not give out your personal information to people or companies that you don’t know.
- If you are unsure about a company, you can conduct your research by running its name by the Federal Trade Commission, the Better Business Bureau, state Attorney General or your local consumer protection agency.
These illegal activities also harm the reputations of well-known companies and reduce traffic on their sites. Merchants can help prevent reshipping scams by detecting legitimate connections between online buyers and their delivery addresses. Some companies would even deny your purchase when your billing and shipping addresses don’t match.
Some people were luckier than others. The U.S. Postal Inspectors field receive up to 100,000 mail fraud complaints and arrest approximately 1,500 suspects for mail fraud every year.
To report suspected scams, call the Postal Inspectors at 1-877-876-2455 (press 5).