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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Not So Obvious Internet Credit Card Scam

A few weeks back I purchased a new keyboard through Amazon, and this unleashed a slew of events that left me in the middle of a large scale credit card scam. I'm pretty savvy to online scams, and have never replied to the Nigerian emails asking for a cool million, but this one caught me out!

Now Amazon has opened up their system to allow small merchants to sell their own products, so you can get a substantial discount on a product. For the keyboard I wanted I had a look through the New offers and found many at nearly half off, so I went with a merchant who had decent feedback and clicked through the checkout.

Amazon runs the checkout process, so the merchant doesn't get my credit card number, all good. My keyboard arrived in good time and I got several emails from the merchant, great service I thought.

Then I started getting packages.

The first package that I got was a box of five of the keyboards that I had ordered, then the next day I got two pieces of software. I emailed the merchant and they told me that there had been a mess up in the order and they had been incorrectly shipped to my address. The shipping labels had someone else's name on it so it all seemed like a genuine mistake and the merchant would figure out what went wrong.

The merchant emailed me some pre-paid UPS shipping labels addressed to their 'Returns Department' which I printed out. The merchant even offered to arrange a UPS pickup so I sent on the packages.

A few days later I started to get more packages. These included a video projector, a 30 inch monitor, and some other really big ticket items. I refused delivery of the items and noticed that the items were coming direct from places such as NewEgg and Dell, and at this point I realized that there was something more sinister afoot. I was also getting emails from the merchant pleading with me not to refuse delivery as that would 'incur extra shipping charges' and instead to ship them on to them.

What must have happened was that I had been co-opted into acting as a fence for stolen goods. The merchant has at their disposal a number of stolen credit cards. They were ordering items from manufacturers and having them shipped to my mailing address. I'd then forward them on and there would be no paper trail from the original purchase through to their receipt of the goods.

Armed with printouts of all the emails and photographs of all the shipping labels (I'm now on first name terms with my UPS guy) I went down to the local police precinct. I filled out a form and thought that as I had the address that these good would ultimately go to that the fraud department would be able to track down these guys.

When I did get to speak to the desk Sergent he said there was absolutely nothing they could do as the fraud was no committed in New York state. I called NewEgg and they didn't have any ideas on what to do. Dell has taken my number and a week later has not got back to me.

Now this is a pretty smart scam, and I certainly don't like being taken for a sucker, what gets me is that these guys probably have a huge operation running here and there seems very little that anyone can do about it. I could call up the FBI, but they aren't defrauding me, so I don't really want to invest yet more time in all this.

Maybe this is a well known scam, but it's the first I've heard of it, and it seems the only thing left for me to do is put the word out so that nobody else gets caught in the same trap.
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4 comments:

Find the information if you think you have been a victim of credit card fraud or an online scam.
Anonymous said...
Nico, have you found out anything further on the scam? Is there a generic "name" for this kind of scam -- I'd like to do more surfing for info on how to protect from it, but it's difficult to search for.

Having gone through the pain of being victim to a [luckily minor, bank caught it right away] credit card scam just recently we're much more vigilant but this sounds scary.

-- BDJ subscriber
Nico Westerdale said...
I didn't hear anything else about it, and I don't know if it has a name. I'm sure it was a big operation they had going there too!
Lestat said...
I am glad that you mentioned this very alarming information. I am sure that this will greatly help fellow credit cardholders to secure even more their transactions.

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