COPPERAS COVE, Texas (KWTX) Copperas Cove police are warning local residents about a shipping scam that makes victims the middleman for criminals.
(Photo by Kathleen Serie)
Copperas Cove Detective Rick Counter said nine people in the city have been victims of the “re-shipping” scam in the last year.
He said it starts with criminals who have purchased items online using stolen credit cards.
Most of their shipping addresses or other information has been blocked by online sites, so they need to find a middleman to ship their stolen items overseas, Counter said.
He said the scammers find their middlemen by granting interviews to people who post resumes through online job search engines.
"They've all mentioned that they're posting resumes on Indeed,” Counter said.
“Now, I don't know if they're following a legitimate link to Indeed, or don't know if it's a spoof site that they're visiting.”
Police said the “hiring” process may include an interview over Skype or Google Talk.
"If you go online for employment, and you're contacted by somebody, and they ask you to do any kind of an interview over the phone, or something where you're not making face-to-face contact with somebody, that would be an indicator,” Counter said.
Next, a contract is mailed to the middleman.
Once signed, packages start to arrive.
The victims are instructed to open the package, check for damage, and send a photo to the scammer, who in turn mails a shipping label with instructions on which shipping company to use.
Even though the middleman is not out any money, it does take time away from them, and the detectives who need to return these packages to the actual customers.
"We had one customer where there was probably 20 or 30 packages that the middleman was still in possession of, and we took the time to contact each one of those merchants to find who the actual customer was, and then return those packages,” Counter said.
“That took several hours, and it was all for a case that we couldn't make an arrest because the suspects were overseas."
Counter said if you do become a middleman for scammers, you would not be charged with a crime if you were under the impression it was a legitimate business.
Police said although the victim doesn’t lose any cash, most people give the scammers a bank account number for the presumed paycheck that would be given through direct deposit.
He said this means their information could be used in the future.
"If you ever have any concerns or you think maybe this isn't a legitimate business, or I might be getting into something that I shouldn't be, just call the police department and ask,” Counter said.
“All of our officers are well-versed in the scams that are around."