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Reshipper Scam

Jurisdiction: US Postal Inspector

Perpetrated by: Both Nigerian and Eastern European scam groups

Objective:  Layering, the same as in money laundering.  Layering places distance between the scammer and the crime.

  1. To obtain stolen merchandise for personal use or to sell.  Because many companies will not send merchandise to Nigeria or Eastern Europe due to warnings about stolen credit card purchases, the scammer must find an in-country person to receive then reship the goods.
    1. Merchandise is purchased by scammers with stolen credit card information obtained from

 i.      Nigerian scammers who specialize in credit card information theft by electronic invasion

 ii.      Eastern European specialists who specialize in credit card information theft by electronic invasion

iii.      Vietnamese dealers who obtain credit card information by any means available

    1. Merchandise comes from inexperienced eBay sellers who send items without payment
  1. To deliver counterfeit checks and money orders within a target country (US, UK, Canada, Australia, India , etc.)

b.       The scammers have Overpayment and Payment Processing scam victims in the US to whom checks and money orders must be sent.

c.       Checks and money orders are sent in bulk to Reshipper scam victims who are instructed to

     i.      Forward sealed and pre-addressed envelopes

     ii.      Forward Individual drafts sent to the Reshipper victim in bulk

1.       NOTE: This method does not always work as well individual drafts, regardless of the reason given to the Reshipper by the scammer.  The victim receives an envelope containing 20 or more drafts and for many, the sight of so many drafts breaks the illusion.

      iii.      Forward individual drafts as the Reshipper victim receives them.

The Hook:

  1. Romance, friend, budding business partner: In each instance the victim is persuaded that the scammer needs goods and/or letters forwarded because the scammer is unable to handle the transactions for a little while.  Reasons are usually travel or illness; however other excuses have been used effectively depending on the basis of the relationship.
  2. Employment by a foreign company needing a US representative (the position is given various titles by the scammers) because:
    1. The company's customers pay more for US products shipped to them directly from the US
    2. The company needs to cut down on shipping expenses.  This excuse includes instructions to the Reshipper to sent products to the company's different shipping hubs
    3. A variety of other reasons have been used but the two listed above are the most common.

Most Common Victim Indicators:

  1. Emails from other countries that demonstrate the trend of the relationship.  The source of the emails can only be determined by email tracking.  Email tracking and a thorough understanding of trace route interpretation is essential because the scammers frequently spoof, forge, and hijack in-country email addresses.

NOTE: It is common practice for Nigerian romance scammers to spend months building a relationship with their target.  While there are those who get impatient and move to declarations of love and marriage almost immediately, it is the patient scammers who are the most successful.  

They can have 10 or 20 romances going with both men (in which the scammer poses as a woman) and women at the same time without missing a beat or getting mixed up about who is who, including which persona they have adopted for which victim.  

  1. Emails from other countries containing instructions for parcel forwarding.
  2. Pre-addressed shipping labels
  3. Pre-addressed envelopes
  4. Instructions to use a specific FedEx, UPS, or DHL account number.  The account is owned by someone other than the Reshipper.  These accounts generally fall into 2 categories:
    1. Accounts owned by someone in a foreign country, usually a scam group member using an alias.
    2. Account information stolen from an in-country corporation, individual, or merchant.
  5. After the arrival of the first package, the rest arrive nearly on a daily basis.  The scammers know they have a narrow window of opportunity before the scam is discovered by the victim and know that the victim will not always rush to do the reshipping.  Most victims hurry up with the first 2 to 3 packages, but after that daily life intrudes.

NOTE: Victims have told us of instances where truckloads of merchandise have arrived at their door.  It is not at all unusual for victims to still have many, many packages remaining when they wake up to the scam.  This leaves the victim in a storage bind, having been left with nowhere to place the packages.  Depending on the size and policies of the merchant company, the victims are asked not to return the merchandise; for the merchant, it becomes a write-off.  The victims are left with either carting all the packages down to the police department or over to the Post Office for the attention of the US Postal Inspector

  1. The scammer has sent the victim items for personal use as a gift or payment bonus; and the items have been purchased with stolen credit card information.  This is particularly prevalent in Romance scams.