Criminal mastermind you are not. Or are you?
June 12, 2015 11:58 AM   Subscribe

Someone ordered a bunch of stuff online using my credit card number and then had it shipped to me. I just don't understand this scam. Any idea what is going on here?

Last weekend I got an email about a possible fraudulent charge, I clicked "no" and called my credit card company and we went line by line through the recent charges and found four total charges that were not me, a medical testing company, a hair growth company, a supplement company, an orthotics company, and airsoft company.

Over the next week a bottle of hair growth serum, a pair of insoles, a bottle of acidophilus, and a urine test kit arrived at my house. Still waiting on those paintballs or whatever they are.

What is the point of buying a bunch of stuff online and having it shipped to me?

Relevant Data:
- Actual card was in my possession the whole time.
- Just me and my fiance live in our house and while he thinks this is hilarious, credit card fraud is a little beyond his normal pranks.
- The packages sat outside my house all day on different days so if the point was to buy a bunch of stuff and then grab it off my porch, they failed pretty hard at that.
- Card was cancelled on the call.
posted by magnetsphere to Work & Money (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I notice that you haven't received the one thing that could easily be resold on ebay.
posted by ryanrs at 12:03 PM on June 12, 2015 [4 favorites]

I believe some/many online merchants require that your first order with them ship to the card billing address (for fraud protection, example here). If that first order gets by without you cancelling the card, they can order stuff for themselves.
posted by ghharr at 12:07 PM on June 12, 2015 [8 favorites]

This exact thing happened to my husband. Sometimes if you buy certain things, you can get other things for free, or you get entered into contests, things like that. We had a lot of crap come to our house along with subscriptions to newspapers and stuff like that for a while. Good on you for cancelling the card.
posted by cleverevans at 12:07 PM on June 12, 2015

I had the same thing happen to me a couple of years ago. Apparently, it's small purchases to test the viability of the credit card and to test if the user will report.
posted by xingcat at 12:08 PM on June 12, 2015 [4 favorites]

I recently relocated to a new city. When logging into some of my online accounts, I had to verify that it was really me at a new location. So one point might be to establish a pattern of this credit card being used from a different IP address than your current one.

I will also Nth others who have said that an initial small purchase is a means to test their fraud practice. When I worked in insurance, it was a well known pattern that people committing fraud would usually start small in order to learn how the system worked. Small charges tend to get much less scrutiny than large ones, from an insurance company or bank or the individual whose credit card number you swiped.
posted by Michele in California at 12:17 PM on June 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

I work in eComm and I believe that many of these fraudsters are in fact not criminal geniuses. But there seems to be more money made (or more attempt to make money made) in reselling card numbers than in using them. A lot of bogus orders made on small websites with the presumption that said websites have poor security is, as others have said, to test the card. What you get, or whether the merchant actually ships anything, seems to be incidental. I sold products on a website that had no value whatsoever other than to a very select audience, and still they came.

I don't really want to educate the crooks about what information needs to be put in correct and what they don't need to bother with, but when they put in the ship-to as the bill-to, it's safe to say they don't care about actually getting the stuff.

Just for fun, there is a variant on this game where a (usually) foreign fraudster will order something to be sent to a stateside address. The person at this address has also been scammed; they think they're going to get paid to forward the package to another country (why they think this plan makes sense has to involve criminal intent of their own, stupidity, or both). Instead, they get conned out of the money they thought they were going to get, and the fraudster gets the item they bought with a stolen card shipped free to a foreign country.
posted by randomkeystrike at 12:49 PM on June 12, 2015 [4 favorites]

Sometimes credit card thieves make a one dollar donation to a non-profit, to check the viabiity of the.card before shopping. Just so you know.
posted by Oyéah at 6:01 PM on June 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Good and likely more pertinent advice above, but just to be sure... You're not taking Ambien or something of that nature, are you?
posted by mingo_clambake at 7:18 PM on June 12, 2015 [6 favorites]

Apologies if this is a derail but since people seem to know more than I do here (surprise), the same happened to me. Call from Visa, online charges that weren't me, charges and card immediately cancelled. A few days later a courier showed up at my door with a $1000 watch. I declined of course but what would've happened if I kept it?

(And appreciate the insight above -- all I could think of was either someone was clever enough to poach my info but too dumb to uncheck "ship to same address", or my house was being staked out..)
posted by raider at 7:58 AM on June 14, 2015

I had an evil friend who confessed to me that she'd submitted Change of Address forms to the post office for ex-boyfriends. (Strangely, you used to be able to do that without showing any form of i.d.) Do you have any vengeful exes who may have had access to your credit card?
posted by eve harrington at 7:22 AM on June 15, 2015

Thanks all! I think it is probably just trying to do test purchases but still seems like a silly way to do that.

I am not on Ambien (or anything similar) and if it was a vengeful ex then they are definitely playing the long game since my most recent ex and I broke up over 5 years ago :)
posted by magnetsphere at 9:27 AM on June 15, 2015

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