‘Package mule’ scammers use stolen credit-card info to buy, intercept high-dollar products

Problem Solvers

DENVER (KDVR) — It’s a double-decker scam.

First, crooks get your credit-card number, then they use your home address to commit theft.

The U.S. Postal Service and private delivery companies are posting warnings about these scams, which they say usually originate in eastern European countries and Nigeria.

Tracee Perkins told the FOX31 Problem Solvers that she didn’t buy a brand new, top-of-the-line laptop computer, but when she checked her credit-card statement, there was a hefty charge for one to the tune of more than $2,100.

“You just say, ‘What am I supposed to do now?'” Perkins said.

Perkins filed a police report and contacted the company that sold the laptop. The owner provided a statement confirming the purchase was fraudulent.

Perkins is the victim of what’s called a “package mule scam.”

Better Business Bureau fraud investigator Ezra Coopersmith told the Problem Solvers how the scam works.

After a card number is stolen — whether from online or elsewhere — the crook gets the address on file, orders a product and has it shipped to that address. But once the purchase goes through, the scammer updates the shipping address to another location, where an accomplice will collect the item paid for with the stolen card.

“In some cases, they don’t even do this with the original merchant. They do it with the shipping company, which makes it less likely that that original company is going to say, ‘Hey, this address seems suspect,'” he said.

Often, those picking up the fraudulent orders have no idea they’re being used as what are called “mules.”

Coopersmith said many are tricked into taking the fake job opportunities.

“What that person’s actually doing is receiving these stolen goods, repackaging them and sending them to another address,” he said.

Perkins told the Problem Solvers she filed a complaint with UPS, and she now waits for her bank to reverse the charges now that she has proof that she’s indeed a victim.

“With the pandemic, it has taught us all to re-evaluate where we really want to spend our time, and chasing down fraud probably isn’t it,” Perkins said.

Perkins added that after owing the bank more than $2,000, in addition to fees, her family is feeling the effect.

“I try to earn a living for my family, and someone took that away from me. Someone took that extra from my kids, and that’s not fair to them,” Perkins said.

Consumer experts tell the Problem Solvers that to help protect your money, avoid using debit cards online, check your bank and credit card statements regularly and be aware of your bank’s protection policy for fraud.

If your bank doesn’t offer sufficient measures that safeguard your account, find another financial institution.

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