ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- Residents looking for a job may have come across an offer that seemed too good to be true. Authorities warn that those seeing offers for a good-paying job that lets them work from home could be walking into a trap. In fact, they could get sucked into an international crime ring.
The scheme starts with stolen credit cards used to make online purchases. Criminals in other countries buy out thousands of dollars in goods, but red flags would go off if those goods shipped to Nigeria or Romania.
So, the criminals recruit unwitting victims in middle America to get paid for shipping boxloads of goods. The victims are told they’re handling warehouse overload, and put the products into individual boxes and reship them.
One retailer in St. Peters decided to track her merchandise, and said the path led her right to the unsuspecting middlemen.
DiscountCoffee.com was hit by stolen credit cards twice this year, but president Cherri Newbury says it could have been worse.
“There have been 8 attempts but only two got through,” she said. After being notified of the attempted stolen credit card transactions Newbury decided to follow up with the people living at the ‘Ship to’ addressed listed on the transactions.
“As we’re talking to them on the phone you can just hear the light come on in their voice. Like, ‘oh my god I’m going to jail,’”she said.
While the victims are often visited by police, they are often not charged since they had no idea they were breaking the law. Victims are often recruited after they post resumes online, making the scam all the more convincing when they receive the offer.
Newbury said even she was recruited by the very people who shipped stolen goods from her warehouse.
“It looked legit,” she said. “There’s no reason why somebody wouldn’t go, ‘they know my name, they know everything about me, they say they found me on a job posting site, yeah I’ll call them. The phone number’s right here, I’ll fill out the application.’”
Authorities warn residents to avoid anyone offering a home shipping job no matter how much it pays. Highway Patrol Investigator Sergant Jeffery Owen says the odds are good the job will mean breaking the law.
“All it is is a means to ship stolen goods without alerting the credit card companies or alerting the retailers who ship the goods,” he said. Newbury adds the level of sophistication in the scam is what makes it hard to combat; especially around the holidays.
“[It’s] very sophisticated and very, very scary,” she said. “Especially in today’s economy; people just need jobs, need better jobs.”