Is this a known scam, and what are my next steps?
September 13, 2014 1:58 PM   Subscribe

I believe I've just thwarted a scam being attempted in my name with my credit card. I have several questions about this: 1. Have I understood the scam correctly? 2. Does the scam have a name or is it something new? 3. Who should I report this to? 4. What steps should I take to protect my identity?

I apologize that this is so long. Hopefully it is also interesting!

By way of background, I have an account with Fedex associated with my home address. The account is set up so I get an e-mail whenever someone sends a Fedex letter or package to my home address. I get these alerts whether or not the sender requests it. Fedex sees a package heading for my address, they give me a heads up by e-mail.

On Wednesday of this week I got an alert from Fedex stating, "Your delivery is scheduled for Thursday, 09/11 by 8:00 PM". This was interesting because I wasn't expecting a Fedex from anyone. The return address was simply, "Operations / WF ORL / ORLANDO, FL / US." Not helpful. It's always kind of exciting getting a Fedex, so I was curious to know what it was. Googling just turned up "Wells Fargo." Hey, maybe someone is sending me money! Probably not, though. I guess I'll have to wait to find out.

On Thursday morning I got another e-mail from Fedex. This one said, "We were unable to complete delivery of your package. Shipment will be held for pickup at FedEx Office. Delivery requires a signature from someone at delivery address." I had been home all morning, so I didn't understand how the delivery could have failed. I called Fedex and spoke to an operator. The operator said that they had received a call from me, asking that the package be held for pickup. I told them that I hadn't many any such request, and would they please deliver the package. The operator said the package was still on the truck, and she would arrange for it to be sent to me. Everything apparently all set, I went back to my workday.

A few minutes later I got another e-mail from Fedex. This one said, "Your delivery is scheduled for today, 09/11 by 8:00 PM. Shipment will be held for pickup at FedEx Office. Delivery requires a signature from someone at delivery address."

Hmmm. That's confusing. I called Fedex back, spoke to another operator, and was again assured that the package would get to me that day.

A few minutes later I got another e-mail from Fedex. This one said, "Your package is ready for pickup at FedEx Office. Delivery requires a signature from someone at delivery address." I decided not to waste my time calling Fedex again.

At 8:00 PM the package had still not arrived, so I called Fedex again. This time operator told me that the package wasn't actually on the truck, that they still had it, and that it was scheduled to be sent to me the following day, and would require a signature for delivery. Annoying, but okay.

A few minutes later I realized I wasn't going to be home the next morning, so I called Fedex back to see what could be done about scheduling the delivery for some time when I'd be home. I spoke to yet another operator. This person was very apologetic. She said that it was actually the original shipper who had called to have the package rerouted from home delivery to pick up, and because of that they couldn't actually deliver it to me. I had to come pick it up.

Now, keep in mind, the pick up location is about 45 minutes from my home and I have no idea what this package is or who it is from. I told the operator there's no way I was going to come pick it up, that they could just send it back to the shipper because I was never going to come get it. The operator apologized again and we said goodbye.

No news Friday morning. Friday evening I got another e-mail from Fedex. This one said, "We were unable to complete delivery of your package. Shipment will be held for pickup at FedEx Office. Delivery requires a signature from someone at delivery address." I decided to make one more attempt. I called Fedex. The operator reviewed the notes, said that it was me and not the shipper who had originally requested that the package be held for pickup (I explained I hadn't made that request); he said that it couldn't be put on a truck from its current location, but it could be sent back to the local distribution center and delivered to me the following morning. "Really?" I asked. "Really," he said. So I asked him to do that.

Saturday morning I called Fedex again to see if the package was actually coming. The operator I spoke with said that it wasn't, and if I wanted to arrange delivery I'd need to call back after 10:00 AM to talk about having it delivered on Monday. Sigh.

But then the package arrived at around 10:20, before I'd had a chance to call. It was a Fedex envelope. Inside was an unmarked #10 business envelope containing two printed pages wrapped around €720 in crisp new bills. That's just under $1,000. The printed pages were a receipt from Wells Fargo listing my name, address, phone number, and an account number consisting of a series of asterisks ending with the last four digits of one of my credit card numbers.

I immediately called my credit card company. There was indeed a charge on my account from September 10th for just under $1,000 payable to Wells Fargo. I contested the charge and cancelled my credit card number. The credit card company (Citi Bank) was very helpful and friendly.

Based on all this, it seems pretty clear what was supposed to happen:

1. The fraudsters get my credit card info, including my name, billing address, and phone number.
2. They arrange for a purchase of Euros from Wells Fargo, which probably requires that the cash be sent to the address of record on the credit card. Wells Fargo gives them the Fedex tracking number.
3. Once the package is in transit they call Fedex, say they are me, and ask that the package be held for pickup.
4. They create a fake ID with my name and home address, pick up the package, and pocket the cash.

This all would have worked perfectly if I hadn't been signed up to get those alerts from Fedex. I never would have known the package was on its way to me; I never would have known it had been rerouted to be picked up from the Fedex office; I would have eventually seen the charge on my credit card statement (and contested it), but I wouldn't have really known the extent of what had happened, or the extent to which my personal information had been compromised.

I've already handled my credit card. Wells Fargo is closed over the weekend. I'll be calling them on Monday to let them know what happened and arrange to get them their money back (pending an okay by law enforcement). I have checked my credit report and confirmed that there hasn't been any suspicious activity. I have put a security freeze on my credit information with the three major credit reporting agencies.

Now, my questions:

1. Did I get this scam right, or is there some other possible explanation for what happened?
2. Does the scam have a name, or have I discovered something new?
3. This is mail/wire fraud, a Federal crime. Should I report it to the FBI, the US Attorney's office, or someone else? (I'd rather not take the time to report it to the local police unless that's really necessary.)
4. I would like to let someone responsible for security at Fedex know what happened. Should I bother? If so, does anyone have any tips on contacting them other than their standard customer service number? (One view is that the security flaw that enabled the scam was Fedex allowing the package to be rerouted from its original intended address. The contra view is that Wells Fargo made the mistake of thinking that the original ship-to address couldn't be changed.)
5. Is there anything more I can and should do on the identity theft side of things, to ensure that this isn't just the first many abuses I'll be put through?

Thanks in advance for your help.
posted by alms to Law & Government (6 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
But then the package arrived at around 10:20, before I'd had a chance to call. It was a Fedex envelope. Inside was an unmarked #10 business envelope containing two printed pages wrapped around €720 in crisp new bills. That's just under $1,000. The printed pages were a receipt from Wells Fargo listing my name, address, phone number, and an account number consisting of a series of asterisks ending with the last four digits of one of my credit card numbers.

But Wells Fargo sending out cash through the mail sounds implausible
posted by jayder at 2:16 PM on September 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


But Wells Fargo sending out cash through the mail sounds implausible

I thought the same thing, but this document seems to suggest you can order foreign currency online from Wells Fargo and have it shipped to you.

This is pretty interesting. I'm not sure who best to report it to, but I will say that I've dealt with the FBI on some financial crime stuff (trying to get them to investigate fraud that had been committed against the company I was working for), and I couldn't get them to even talk to me because the amount of money involved was too low. And it was quite a bit more than $1000. It may not hurt to call them, but I wouldn't expect much action from the feds over $1000.
posted by primethyme at 2:26 PM on September 13, 2014


primethyme: "I wouldn't expect much action from the feds over $1000."

Seconding this. I had over US$2k fraudulently charged to a credit card of mine, and the FBI couldn't have cared less. To add salt in the wound, after I reported it to my city PD, they tracked the guy down (well, another police force in another state), and they let him off with a warning because he "seemed to be gullible" despite finding his apartment filled with packages that he was repackaging and forwarding to China. Thankfully my credit card company let me off the hook, but only after I had to send them a copy of the finished/closed police report.

I've had my info on a security hold with all three credit bureaus ever since.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 11:03 PM on September 13, 2014


But then the package arrived at around 10:20, before I'd had a chance to call. It was a Fedex envelope. Inside was an unmarked #10 business envelope containing two printed pages wrapped around €720 in crisp new bills.

This sounds like an attempt to conceal the cash. I doubt a reputable bank would do something like this.

Cash and currency is the first item on the list of prohibited items in the Fedex Terms and Conditions - and for good reason: moving envelopes full of cash around is both an invitation to theft and a temptation for employees, not to mention a very valuable service for criminals.
posted by Dr Dracator at 11:41 PM on September 13, 2014


Yes, redirected delivery is a classic scam. And yes, it's so common that getting it investigated is going to be difficult, as police really hope you'll just work smarter next time.

they let him off with a warning because he "seemed to be gullible" despite finding his apartment filled with packages that he was repackaging and forwarding

This is also known scam, a variant of the advance fee con. This other person was most likely another victim, in at least some respects, although generally the con depends on the victim(s) hoping to get something for nothing. But this guy probably thought he'd scored a neat work from home deal. The scamsters are overseas or contacting him through yet another proxy, so out of reach of any US law enforcement.
posted by dhartung at 11:46 AM on September 14, 2014


I just spoke with Wells Fargo. The money was indeed from them, purchased through the program that Primethyme linked to.

When I mentioned that sending currency is prohibited by the Fedex terms of service the customer rep just ignored my comment and moved on. So there you have it. I guess they consider it an acceptable risk that comes with an otherwise profitable business.

I won't bother reporting this to law enforcement. While it was interesting to see it unfold in real time it's pretty clear now that law enforcement wouldn't want to take the time to pursue it.

Thanks all for the feedback! Dhartung gets best answer for coming up with the scam name.
posted by alms at 9:22 AM on September 15, 2014


« Older Trade Shows   |   Custom glasses for charity? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.