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Scam tricks you into helping credit card thieves

The idea is to funnel goods through your U.S. address to hide the fact they're really headed out of the country

Scam tricks you into helping credit card thieves

CREATED Nov. 20, 2012

Reporter: Craig Smith

SIERRA VISTA, Ariz (KGUN9-TV) - Looking for some extra holiday cash?  We have a good way not to do it -- a scam that could bring police to your door and leave you with some explaining to do.

With the holidays coming, maybe you're sending out packages anyway -- so why not make a little extra by shipping stuff for someone else?

9 On Your Side tells you why not. 

It sounds like a sweet deal when you see it on Craigslist -- a job that offers to pay you to receive, re-wrap and re-ship something somebody ships to you.
     
Why would they want to pay you for that?

Sierra Vista Police detective Colin Festa knows why.

"They're using stolen credit cards to order merchandise," Festa said. "And probably the businesses they're ordering form would catch the orders and not ship them if they didn't have a local address in the states to ship them to."
       
SVPD has seen this scam several times.
       
The scamsters are trying to get the goods out of the country, but know a foreign address might make merchants check the credit cards and find out they're stolen.
    
SVPD has a large box of clothes and beauty supplies that was headed to Thailand before the scam victim realized something wasn't right.

KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked Detective Festa: "If I'm the person who says, 'Okay, I'll do this for you,' am I now at risk of being caught up in some sort of criminal act?"

"Yeah, actually, you would be the target of our investigation at first because the first place we're going to go look is where this product that was ordered with the stolen credit card went," Festa said. "So you could wind up with your address on a search warrant and we might wind up seizing your computers, phones and things until we figure out you were really just an innocent victim thinking you were employed."
    
Detective Festa knows one man -- who in one month -- shipped out 50 packages worth a total of perhaps 15 to 25 thousand dollars before he wondered why nobody had paid him yet.

It's not hard for these scam artists to seem like legitimate businesses. Some of the Sierra Vista residents in these cases got official-looking contracts to sign, but of course they were all for show.

Here's a place to learn how to defend yourself from consumer scams. Visit the Federal Trade Commission site at www.ftc.gov.

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