Scammers Buy Stuff With Your Card, Then Trick You Into ‘Returning’ Items To Them

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Because there is apparently no limit to the amount of effort someone will put in to being dishonest, scammers are constantly evolving their tricks. For example, it’s no longer enough for someone to just steal your credit card number to go on a shopping spree. Now they have to involve you, by tricking you into actually shipping the fraudulent purchase on to them.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Teresa Dixon Murray reports on a seemingly new grift that relies on victims not paying attention to shipping labels.

Here’s how the scam works: A fraudster gets their hands on your credit card information and the associated address. They then place an online order and have it shipped to your home. But before you have time to figure out what’s going on, a second parcel service shows up to retrieve that package and send it back to the retailer. The catch: It’s not being returned to the seller; it’s just being sent on to the scammer.

A reader tells Dixon Murray that their family learned of the scam recently when they were alerted that someone had purchased a $572 laptop online from Best Buy using a credit card.

The reader tells the Plain Dealer that while the bank immediately canceled the credit card, the laptop was still delivered several days later. After some back and forth with Best Buy, the laptop was returned to a local store and a fraud case number was filed.

Still unsure what had happened, the family says they got an answer when a FedEx driver arrived to pick up the fraudulent return. The family Googled the supposed return address and found it did not belong to Best Buy, but to a small house in Philadelphia.

“It seems that the scam is to get hold of a credit card number, ship goods to the card holder and then try to get them ‘returned’ via FedEx before the card holder realizes what is going on,” the reader says.

The FedEx driver reportedly told the family that the scam is now “driving them crazy” and drivers are being warned to look out for such incidents.

A rep for PNC — the couple’s bank — tells Dixon Murray that they are aware of the scheme, and that fraudsters are counting on the cardholder not paying attention to the return address of unordered products.

“Often the cardholder is so preoccupied with reversing the transaction that they fail to realize that they are, in fact, not returning the merchandise directly to the merchant,” the rep says.

Both the bank rep and Dixon Murray urged consumers to sign up for bank or card issuer alerts for unusual transactions.