The Eufaula Police Department and a local citizen thwarted a small part of a huge ongoing scam that is rampant during these stressed economic times.
According to a Facebook post by EPD Chief Steve Watkins, the home business scam, or reshipping fraud, often starts when a person responds to an ad for a job opening, sometimes online, sometimes in print and sometimes by email. “The reshipping job opportunities can appear anywhere, including local newspapers and well-known job placement websites or dating sites,” Watkins commented. “The applicant is promised a considerable amount of money to receive, inspect, repackage and mail merchandise ordered online and then ship it to a foreign address. Unknown to the person working out of their home is that the merchandise was purchased using stolen credit cards.
“When an applicant answers the ad, they are typically asked for personal information including their social security number and date of birth on an ‘employee application’ form. That information is eventually used to steal the applicant’s identity and perpetrate the fraud even further.”
Watkins warned that often the company may provide an employment contract or tax forms and within days, the “employee” will begin receiving packages in the mail. The job is to open, inspect and inventory the packages, and then ship the merchandise to an address provided by the company, he said.
“Typically, payment for repackaging arrives in the form of a third party cashier's check. These cashier's checks will usually be for more than the amount initially agreed upon and the employer will request that the overpayment be returned to them electronically. Once the check ‘clears’ the bank, it turns out to be phony and the reshipper, the citizen/victim, is left responsible for the entire amount of the check,” said Watkins. He noted that additionally, the reshipper could be in trouble with the law for repackaging and shipping merchandise purchased with stolen credit cards.
“This incident is under investigation,” said Watkins. “If you have been a victim of a package redirecting scam or other scams please contact us or report the scam to the Better Business Bureau, or the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov. “
Another place to report scams is the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint or 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); whether it was a work-at-home program that you now believe might not be legitimate; or you’re told you can earn thousands of dollars a month starting your own internet business only to be milked out of your hard earned dollars; or with envelope stuffing where for a small fee, the ad says you’ll make lots of money stuffing envelopes but after you pay, you find out there is no work and instead you get a letter telling you to get other people to buy the same envelope-stuffing opportunity or some other product like you did – that it’s the only way you’ll earn your money back.
You can also contact the Attorney General’s office in your state or the state where the company is located. Find your Attorney General at naag.org. The AG’s office can tell you if you’re protected by a state law that regulates work-at-home programs.
Some tips to avoid being scammed that Watkins shared include:
>> If you see an ad for a home business opportunity that promises easy and high income, be wary. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
>> Never give out your personal information to a person you don't know or a company you have never heard of.
>> Be skeptical of any opportunity that doesn't pay a regular salary or engages a foreign company.
>> Research a company by checking with the Federal Trade Commission, Better Business Bureau or the Attorney General's Office.
“Understand though that many of these scams originate overseas and little, if anything, can be done to recover monies surrendered willingly,” commented Watkins. “The biggest this is to use common sense and never send money to someone that asks you to use wire transfer, a prepaid debit card, or a gift card, those cannot be traced and are as good as cash,. If a deals sound too good to be true, it is.
“Avoid clicking on links or opening attachments in unsolicited emails. Links, if clicked, will download malware onto your computer, smart phone, tablet or whatever electronic device you’re using at the time, allowing cyber thieves to steal your identity. Be cautious even with email that looks familiar; it could be fake. Instead, delete it if it looks unfamiliar and block the sender.
“Don’t believe everything you see,“ cautions Watkins. “Scammers are great at mimicking official seals, fonts, and other details. Just because a website or email looks official does not mean that it is. Caller ID is commonly faked also.
“Use extreme caution when dealing with anyone you’ve met online. Scammers use dating websites, Craigslist, social media, and many other sites to reach potential targets. They can quickly feel like a friend or even a romantic partner, but that is part of the con for you to trust them
“Be cautious about what you share on social media,’ Watkins warns. “Consider only connecting with people you already know. Check the privacy setting s on all social media and online accounts. Imposters often get information about their targets from their online transactions, and can make themselves sound like a friend or family member because they know so much about you.”
“If you’re thinking about following up on a work-at-home offer, do your homework,” the FTC’s website advises. “The FTC’s Business Opportunity Rule has safeguards in place to make sure you have the information you need to tell whether a work-at-home opportunity is a risky business. Under the Rule, sellers have to give you a one-page disclosure document that offers key pieces of information about the opportunity.”
The FTC recommends using the information in the disclosure document to fact-check what the seller tells you. In addition to reviewing the disclosure document, here are some questions to ask that are listed on the FTC website:
>> What tasks will I have to perform? Are any other steps involved?
>> Will I be paid a salary, or will I be paid on commission?
>> What is the basis for your claims about my likely earnings? Do you survey everyone who purchased the program? What documents can you show me to prove your claims are true before I give you any money? Note: If a seller makes a claim about how much money a person can earn, the seller also has to give you an earnings claim statement with more specifics.
>> Who will pay me?
>> When will I get my first paycheck?
>> What is the total cost of this work-at-home program, including supplies, equipment, and membership fees? What will I get for my money?
The answers to these questions may help you determine whether a work-at-home program is legitimate, and if so, whether it’s a good fit for you.
The FTC website recommends researching other people’s experience with a company before you respond to any ads for work at home opportunities, among other job opportunities. It’s recommended that you try entering the company or promoter’s name with the words “complaint,” “reviews,” or “scam” into a search engine and reading what others have to say. You can also check the company out with the same agencies you would report them to with complaints, for example - a consumer protection agency, your state Attorney General, or the Better Business Bureau — not only where the company is located, but also where you live. These organizations can tell you whether they’ve gotten complaints about a particular work-at-home program according to the FTC.. Everyone is warned to remember that just because there aren’t complaints, that doesn’t mean the company is legitimate. Dishonest companies will often settle complaints and change their names or move to avoid detection.
No matter what you do, remember it’s always better to be well informed before you jump into a business opportunity than to find out it wasn’t legit after they have taken all your money.
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