BBB warns of repackaging scam

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- A mail scam on the rise in Colorado has the Better Business Bureau sending out a stern warning. Crooks are busy duping people into sending stolen property on behalf of fake charities, according to the BBB.

The scam starts on the dark net -- an area of the internet where credit card numbers are up for grabs. Many scams start there, but what's unique about the repackaging scam is where the product goes after a stolen credit card is used.

“We were kind of desperate, in need for a job,” said repackaging scam victim Chris Smith of Colorado Springs.

Smith was down on his luck and in need of money when his online resume caught the interest of internet thieves.

He was told he could make easy cash at home by receiving and then sending goods for a charity called Care of Care. Smith said the job seemed legitimate at first, but then he started doing some research and called the BBB.

“These individuals are none the wiser right away,” said Kimberly States with the BBB. “They’re collecting a paycheck, but they’re also participating in a federal crime, and that’s never a good thing.”

In Smith’s case, after the crooks stole a credit card number, they went online to purchase goods to send to Smith in Colorado Springs.

Smith's job was to take the goods and send them elsewhere -- unwittingly funneling stolen property. The BBB said the funneling is an effective way to throw off authorities.

"It just really hurt when I found out that I wasted a month of my time possibly hurting somebody else,” Smith said.

Stolen items can be anything purchased online.

For Smith, it was sent a prepaid phone and a carbon monoxide detector. Smith said he has reported everything he knows to the FBI, but that might not be enough to find the suspects who are many times operating from overseas.

In the end, Smith wised up before ever receiving a dime to continue the crooks’ dirty work.

"Really the best advice we can give is take the time to do your homework,” Smith said.

Doing homework could start with a Google search on the apparent charity. Then experts advise people to dive deeper by going to the BBB's website or the Colorado Secretary of State's website.