Re-Shipping Scams Can Land You in Hot Water

At one point or another, we’ve probably all dreamed about how great it would be to work from home. No boss coming into our cubicle to make demands, no need to leave our children in day care, no commute, no company dress code… it sounds ideal. And that’s exactly why scammers are able to make a quick buck off of people who just want to work under their own terms.

Consumers may have already been warned about work from home (WAH) scams, and they come in all varieties, far too many to list here. Sadly, a growing number of people are still victimized by these scammers, and you or someone you know may have even fallen victim to this type of crime. The end result is often frustration, embarrassment at having been taken in, and a significant loss of money. But one scam that is making the rounds again stands to not only cheat you out of your money but could actually land you in jail.

Called a “re-shipping” scam, this one involves receiving package deliveries at your address, then repackaging and shipping the deliveries to customers in exchange for both a reimbursement for your shipping costs and a payment as your fee. There might be a wide variety of reasons why the scammer claims he needs the items reshipped, including international shipping costs, tariff issues, or a host of other excuses, but the end result is the same: not only do you never receive payment from the scammers who “hired” you to work for them, you just received goods bought with stolen identities, making you an accomplice.

Unfortunately, when the police track down the items that were purchased with the ID theft victim’s credit card, they were shipped to your address. Since all you have to prove your innocence is a concocted story about “some guy on the internet” who hired you to receive the items and reship them (typically to a non-traceable post office box), you’re going to have your work cut out for you in terms of proving that you didn’t steal the other victim’s identity and use it to purchase these items, items that you no longer have in your possession.

Even if you are never contacted by the police for your involvement in a crime, and even better, if you are never sent any items to re-ship, one other dangerous angle to these scams is that they are simply a way to get your personal information. By making you think you’ve been hired by these companies, you’re handing over your name, birthdate, Social Security number, and more—essentially handing the criminals your identity.

When trying to determine if a WAH job is real, ask yourself a few important questions: does the contact website look shady, or is it full of grammatical errors? Are you hired too quickly, meaning the scammer was in a little bit of a hurry to get your information? Were you required to pay any fees, or were you required to turn over large amounts of personal information, even just to apply? These are sure signs that something isn’t right.

Of course, the most important thing to think about in any job offer is the nature of the work. In the case of re-shipping scams, consider this: WHY would someone pay you to be the “middle man” in terms of shipping? If someone is ordering goods online, why would he send them to you, then have you send them to someone else? Wouldn’t it be cheaper and faster to ship the items directly to the alleged customer? Something isn’t adding up in the scenario, and it should make you instantly suspicious.

There is actually quite a few legitimate work from home opportunities to be had, but you must do your homework and be diligent about finding them. If anything seems too good to be true or has strange requirements, don’t be taken in. It’s especially important that you not give out your personal information to these scammers since many so-called opportunities are really only a way to nab your data.

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Read next: I Have Bad Credit…Why Would an Identity Thief Bother?!

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