A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Friday, December 11, 2015


I received this in my email today. Normally I wouldn't put this into my blog but as the author wrote, this scam is very clever. Then I thought being the season and all, maybe it could happen to you so here you are.

This scam is actually very clever. Just when you thought you'd heard it all.
Be very careful out there! Beware of people bearing gifts.
The following is a recounting of the incident from the victim:

Wednesday a week ago, I had a phone call from someone saying that he was from some outfit
called: "Express Couriers,"(The name could be any courier company).
He asked if I was going to be home because there was a package for me that required a signature.

The caller said that the delivery would arrive at my home in roughly an hour. Sure enough, about an hour later, a uniformed delivery man turned up with a beautiful basket of flowers and a bottle of wine. I was very surprised since there was no special occasion or holiday, and I certainly didn't expect anything like it. Intrigued, I inquired as to who the sender was.

The courier replied, "I don't know, I'm only delivering the package."
Apparently, a card was being sent separately... (the card has never arrived!) There was also a consignment note with the gift. He then went on to explain that because the gift contained alcohol, there was a $3.50 “delivery/verification charge," providing proof that he had actually delivered the package to an adult (of legal drinking age), and not just left it on the doorstep where it could be stolen or taken by anyone, especially a minor.

This sounded logical and I offered to pay him cash. He then said that the delivery company required payment to be by credit or debit card only, so that everything is properly accounted for, and this would help in keeping a legal record of the transaction. He added couriers don’t carry cash to avoid loss or likely targets for robbery.

My husband, who by this time was standing beside me, pulled out his credit card, and 'John,' the "delivery man," asked him to swipe the card on a small mobile card machine with a small screen and keypad. Frank, my husband, was asked to enter his PIN number and a receipt was printed out. He was given a copy of the transaction. He guy said everything was in order, and wished us a good day.

To our horrible surprise, between Thursday and the following Monday, $4,000 had been charged/withdrawn from our credit/debit account at various ATM machines.
Apparently the "mobile credit card machine," which the deliveryman carried now had all the info necessary to create a "dummy" card with all our card details including the PIN number.
Upon finding out about the illegal transactions on our card, we immediately notified the bank which issued us a new card, and our credit/debit account was closed.
We also personally went to the Police, where it was confirmed that it is definitely a scam because several households had been similarly hit.

WARNING: Be wary of accepting any "surprise gift or package," which you neither expected nor personally ordered, especially if it involves any kind of payment as a condition of receiving the gift or package. Also, never accept anything if you do not personally know or there is no proper identification of who the sender is. 

Oh the Happy Holidays! 


EG CameraGirl said...

Hmmm. Someone was quite creative with this scam! Yep, beware of strangers bearing gifts!

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

Devious and very believable. Thanks for the info.

Incidentally if you cut and paste to a simple text editing program like Microsoft's Notepad,(which doesn't include text-colour or background colour), and then cut and paste from Notepad to your blog you'll avoid the problem with the text.

John W. Wall said...

Interesting scam! Thanks for the heads-up!

genie said...

Thanks for sharing this. It is real scary. I bought something online and as soon as i sent the payment a banner appeared at top of computer from my bank saying I had bought something from out of the country from the Republic of Congo. I freaked out and called the bank ASAP and had the account closed out. As it turned out, the item arrived in just a few days and came from the United States. Still, I feel much better that that card has been removed and a new account set up.

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Thanks for your PSA, John. That is a very clever scam, particularly with the follow-up, proclamation of being "legal", and concern about the safety of the delivery driver.

Those attachable card readers designed for smart phones and tablets are becoming increasingly popular at food trucks (aka roach coaches) and local farmers' markets. I understand why the vendors use them (to save money on the standard cumbersome machines and be more mobile), but it still makes me wary. I try to pay cash or use a credit card with decent fraud protection, rather than a debit card that takes directly from my bank account. I only ever use my PIN at the bank's ATM.

As an aside, an older friend keeps getting calls from her supposed grandson "John" asking for money to get him out of trouble. She does indeed have 2 grandsons named John (easy guess, given your name and the commenters here). He offers such a great sob story and is probably banking on her not having her memory intact.

TexWisGirl said...


The Furry Gnome said...

Good warning!

biebkriebels said...

The world is full of cheaters, thieves and "grabbers" (that is how we call them here).

Stephanie said...


Rose said...

I would love to see what could be accomplished if people worked as hard trying to do something good as they do at cheating others.

Stewart M said...

Oh splendid. If there is a way to rip people off somebody will think of it! Good bit of information to share.

I may have mentioned it before - but Lord Howe and Hawaii were formed in a similar way - volcanic hot spot - so that may explain some of the similarities.

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne