How to Spot Money-Laundering and Reshipping Scams
Are money-laundering and reshipping scams only tied to big corporations?
How come most scams come to you by people abroad who reach you through e-mail or social media?
With so many possibilities and offers we can find on the internet, how to know which one is reliable and which one isn’t?
Nowadays, people are aware of e-mail scamming and think twice before responding to an e-mail where a Nigerian prince who is a relative of theirs passed away and left them money.
Still, scams are evolving and can be found not only through social media, but through employment boards as well.
In this article, we will tackle this taboo subject and cover everything you need to know in order to not get caught up in money-laundering and reshipping scams.
We’ve covered everything from explaining how these scams work, to how to spot and avoid them.
Hope you enjoy reading!
WHAT IS A SCAM?
Internet jobs are the most convenient ways for criminals to move their stolen goods or money. Individuals willing to work and make money unwillingly partake in illegal activities.
Most job seekers are already familiar with that they can become accomplices or victims to a scam if they are not careful when looking for work online.
Scams can often come as an e-mail, which is a lot of times grammatically incorrect. Although, scam e-mails can teach us a lot about sales.
These e-mails state that the employer has seen your resume somewhere and that they are offering you a position in their company. Spoofing is also a well-known way of e-mail scamming.
A WORD ABOUT SPOOFING
Spoofing is forging an e-mail header so that the e-mail appears as if it’s coming from someone or somewhere official.
The point is not to show the real source of the e-mail, because of its, probable ambiguity.
People open e-mails more when they think they came from an official source. The goal of spoofing is just that – to get people to open the e-mail and to respond to it.
Most spoofing e-mails are easily detected and can just be deleted. Some, however, can be serious security risks.
An e-mail can supposedly be from a website you use, and it can ask you for sensitive information. It may ask you for your credit card number, password and other information you don’t share.
Another serious security risk is when the e-mail contains links to malware and viruses which are installed on your computer when clicked on.
Spoofing is a way of executing phishing attacks and is often used not only to get sensitive information out of you and install viruses on your device but also for identity thefts and image tarnishing.
WHAT IS A MONEY-LAUNDERING SCAM?
Requiring someone to do a transaction in someone else’s name and with illegally obtained money and promising them something in return, while actually stealing that money is an act called money laundering.
Promises can, other than money, be about new job offers, or about some prizes you have won, and even about free trips you are awarded.
This act is called money laundering because you’ve basically washed illegally acquired money into now clean, legal money.
This concept is very popular in the criminal world and in corruptive individuals or institutions.
With the evolution of the internet, unfortunately, this type of scam evolved as well. More often than not, these types of scams rely on the internet.
Scammers rely on gullible people to answer a false job offer of using their personal bank accounts to transfer stolen money to the scammer.
Usually, the individual who agrees to carry out the job gets to keep a part of the total sum as compensation for their work.
However, when the right authorities find out about the act, they take away all the money. In addition, extra charges for participating in criminal activity will happen.
This seems like an easy way to make money, however, even if we take away the fact that it is not legal, long-term it’s not sustainable. You don’t want to be looking around always wondering if someone will find out, do you?
Keep in mind that if you didn’t ask questions about the job being legit or not, you could end up with financial penalties or even going to jail.
Let’s keep in mind that banks also have access to your account and can notice if you suddenly have an abnormal amount of cash flowing through your bank account.
Money-launderers often create job openings for people from a specific nation. They then ask the candidates to transfer money or process payments in their name, stating that they can’t do so themselves because they are not from that nation.
Communication then continues and its quality can vary. We’ve witnessed fraud e-mail which is very proficiently written, but more often than not they have noticeable grammar mistakes.
Scammers don’t take long to respond and don’t organize a selection process.
If you are immediately accepted for a job, without a selection process and you are told that you are the “perfect candidate”. If you find yourself in a situation like this, know that this is a red flag.
WHAT IS A RESHIPPING SCAM?
Similar to money-laundering, reshipping scams are based on manipulating individuals to partake in a crime or commit a new one entirely.
The range of crimes that can be committed is very vast: from repackaging stolen merchandise, electronics, drugs, guns, stolen money and worse things we won’t even mention.
This type of scam is also well-known as “postal forwarding”. This is how they work:
- An individual accepts a package that the scammer has sent.
- He repackages it and reships it back to them.
- He pays the shipping charges.
- The scammer pays with fake money, usually it’s a fake paycheck but nowadays Bitcoin is also popular.
After the paycheck bounces, the people who’ve executed the deed can be charged for shipping or even for the price of goods which were bought online with someone else’s money.
The victim handled the stolen goods and thus committed an illegal act.
All the victim did is follow the instructions, but as we can see, blindly following instructions will just lead to being exploited by someone.
Since the victims are domestic and the easily traceable parts of the scam.
This type of work-at-home deals happen when for example, a cybercriminal acquires someone’s credit card information.
With that, he or she will buy different goods which will be repackaged and reshipped back to them.
Usually, the goods are then sold on the black market. Money acquired like this can further be laundered.
MONEY LAUNDERING TECHNIQUES
Money-laundering first introduces the money into the financial system.
After that, the money is moved around to create distance between the criminals and itself. In the end, the money is brought back to the criminals as legitimate money.
Because the amount of money laundered is usually outstanding, one way to do it is to break it into smaller transactions and spread to different accounts. Across borders, money can be laundered through wire transfers or currency exchange.
It is also popular to get the victims to invest in gold or other goods which can be transported around easier than money. Investing in real estate or creating companies is a neat way of hiding from the government your extra income.
Being under the radar is necessary to pull out a scam like this.
With new anonymous ways of doing online payments or using virtual currencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum, it is almost impossible to trace illegal money. Using proxy servers to change the IP address leaves no trace and can be a way to a perfect crime.
Online auctions, gambling websites and even gaming websites can be used to launder money.
For example, if a gaming website has its own currency and the stolen money can be converted into it, when converted back it will come up as clean money.
Laws on money-laundering are slow to catch up since they rely mostly on traditional banks and institutions. Cybercriminals want to remain undetected and change their approach often – be it online gaming websites, block chain or auctions and sales.
The criminal can be located anywhere in the world and can find a victim anywhere online. The criminal committed identity theft and can’t use that identity to make purchases, else he or she is at risk of being discovered by authorities.
So, the criminal relies on the victim to receive the goods at their address and reship them to them. Almost never do the criminal and the victim actually meet in person.
The scam is done through the internet by offering work-at-home, charity scams, flirting and so on. The victim receives instructions on how, when and where to receive the package and where the criminal wants them to be sent afterward.
HOW DO MERCHANTS PREVENT THIS?
Reshipping scams are a big threat to companies who ship worldwide. FedEx, UPS, DHL and many others need to constantly be on the look-out of being dragged into illegal activities with reshipping.
When we sign a package upon receiving it, we helped prevent reshipping scams. This is a measure created by these companies to reduce the probability of such scams.
Other precautions have also been taken. Merchants can refuse to ship to a customer that enters different billing and shipping addresses.
To check what happened, they call the customer or try to draw a connection between two people on their own.
When the merchant establishes how the two people know each other, then it is safe to assume that the shipment is not a scam.
How can merchants establish a connection between the buyer and the recipient? Well, for example, they can use social media. Facebook and Twitter come in handy in these scenarios.
If he doesn’t find a public connection there it means that he needs to dig deeper.
The more advanced merchants can track IP addresses and compare shopping behaviors, but not all merchants are on this level yet.
HOW TO SPOT THESE SCAMS?
The question is how to notice a fake from a real job offer in a place called the internet.
Many offers are out there and if you want to avoid getting caught in illegal activities you need to be very careful.
There are some red signs you should be on the lookout:
- Solicitation of money – If your potential new employer is asking you to pay something in advance, the offer is not trustworthy. A lot of times you are required to send something to him – a CV, a recommendation letter, a task that he assigned to you… but you will never be asked to pay something upfront. If you do get asked, don’t do it and end all communication with him/them.
- E-mail address is not from company domain – Employers usually contact through official company e-mail address which has their own domain. If the employer’s address is Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo, that may be a red flag. All serious companies and institutions nowadays have their own e-mail domain so you know that their representatives are official.
- The job seems too easy – The majority of work offers which can be done from home are not real. If the job description is a one and done act and it seems to simple to be worth that much money, it is probably a scam.
- The bar is set too low – If your qualifications aren’t specified and you are not interviewed or asked about your experience, strengths, weaknesses, wants and wishes, the other side is probably looking for just any accomplice they can find. Often times they will talk to you like you are their perfect candidate. You can ask them questions to check legitimacy. For example, what do they like about you so much or how do they see your contribution to the company?
- Lack of company information – After every offer be sure to research the company online. Visit their company website, look for reviews and experiences. Does the offer match with what you can find about the company online? Is the e-mail they contacted you with the same as the one on the website? If the information is lacking then it’s best to quit pursuing that company further.
- Suspicious location – Are you required to show up at an unknown location? If your potential employer asks you to come to a job presentation at a location you find uncomfortable, you should probably ignore the invitation. He or she may even ask you to pick up something somewhere, and this is definitely a red flag, as red as it can get.
- Guaranteed income without investing – Something that generates income and doesn’t require investing time, money, or both in it, and is presented to you by a message on social media or through e-mail, should definitely be ignored.
HOW TO PREVENT FROM GETTING INVOLVED?
There are some precautions to take to be safe from getting involved in scams in the first place. Sometimes, especially if you are in a hard situation, it can be very hard to decline a job offer.
We all need a job, but evaluating the offer before accepting it can prevent you from being caught up in an illegal scam. This seriously exposes you to financial and personal risk.
It is recommended that you always research the company which gives you the offer – what employees say about it (it’s best if you can find someone who has worked or currently works there, testimonials are the best), where is it located, how many search results it gets, who they work with and how their website and social media look like.
In real life, it’s usually very easy to spot a scam if you the research. Hard and honest work is the only thing that guarantees financial stability long-term.
If you encounter an offer where you can make “easy money”, think twice why no one else is doing it. Making a lot of money in a short period of time is why criminals begin their illegal journey, and you don’t want to end up taking that road.
Remember to keep your anti-virus software up to date and turned on always. This will help detect unwanted and harmful content in messages, e-mails, websites and so on.
Also, never give out personal information to an unofficial source. The rule of thumb is not to download any content someone you don’t know sends you – it is probably malware.
You should be very picky about your online payments. Don’t enter sensitive information at websites which are not secure. It is common for scammers to ask for your credit card information.
Be on the lookout for messages on websites like “You are the 1,000,000th visitor! Claim your prize!”. When you click on such messages, they usually ask you first for your credit card information before they give you your “prize”. These links might also carry viruses.
WHAT TO DO IF I GET INVOLVED?
If you believe that you have been involved in a scam that includes money-laundering or reshipping, or that your personal information was compromised, you should immediately close credit card and bank accounts that are in danger.
Report the case to the authorities and gather as much evidence as you can – the conversations, their website, their contact and so on.
If you yourself did something illegal in the process and you know it, seek legal counseling.
Stop all contact with the scammer. Don’t reply to any message or e-mail anymore and don’t answer the phone. Also, it’s easy to block them. Don’t reply even though they are promising you your money back.
Some scammers pretend to be enforcement agencies and promise that they can get you your lost money back.
Don’t pay anything else when you get scammed, the chances of recovering the money are not good.
Your bank has a policy ready on how to deal with frauds.
The bank will guide you through the process of closing your account and will be there to assist you fully through this experience.
If you have transferred money through another bank or service, it would be best to contact them as well and let them know what happened. After you’ve done all of these steps, change your passwords for accounts that have been compromised.
It is best that you use a different password for all of them from now on. If any of your devices was hacked, for example a phone, a PC or a laptop, clean it.
You can bring it to a technician and ask them to format it for you if you are not familiar with how to go about it.
At the end of the day, learn out of this and make the most of it. Pay attention in the future if you come across a scam again so you don’t fall for it twice, or more. Learn how scammers work and how to avoid them. You will notice the resemblance in how scammers work.
Lastly, talk with someone about this. Your family, partner or friends are there to support you. Even though you might feel shame in admitting that you fell victim to a scam, sharing always helps ease the burden.
Not only will you feel better, but they will also learn from that story and won’t fall for a scam themselves. This is why sharing this with someone is a definite win-win.
Falling victim to a scam of any kind, be it money-laundering, reshipping or any other kind is not a fun experience. You will feel manipulated, ashamed and gullible.
Truth be told, the internet is full of people waiting to exploit you, so you need to be aware that scam offers are always there.
Think twice before accepting to “make easy money”, you might just end up helping someone perform a criminal activity and face the consequences yourself.
The web is a great place to find work online and the good news is that if your offer is from an untrustworthy source that you will probably figure it out by doing a little research about the employer or company.
Hopefully, with this article, you feel more aware of what happens online.
These scams can happen to you but by following this article we are sure that you will be safe from money-launderers and reshipping scammers.
It’s always better to be careful than to be sorry, so keep your eyes open!