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Surprise gift scam can lead to monetary loss


LW residents need to be on the watch for an elaborate scam involving couriers delivering surprise gifts, only to steal the unsuspecting victims’ hard-earned cash as the scammers go on a shopping spree at their expense. While this recent case did not happen in LW, Better Business Bureaus across the country are warning consumers to be wary of phone calls from courier services asking if the victim is going to be home for a package delivery that requires a signature.

The caller says that the delivery will arrive in an hour.

About an hour later, a uniformed delivery man arrives with a package that the victim wasn’t expecting.

According to one consumer’s account, her trouble began with a phone call from a man who said he worked for “Express Couriers” and asked to arrange a time to deliver a package that required a signature.

Within one hour from the telephone call, a legitimate-looking delivery person holding a gift basket showed up at her door. There was no accompanying card or other information as to the identity of the sender.

The imposter then charged the woman a $3.50 “delivery/ verification” charge because the basket contained liquor. The fee is supposedly required to prove that the package was received by an adult of drinking age, instead of being left outside where a minor would have access to it.

In one reported case, the consumer wanted to pay with cash, but the delivery man said he could only accept payment by credit card.

The courier swiped the credit card on a mobile terminal and asked that the consumer enter the card’s Personal Identification Number (PIN), and then handed her a receipt for the payment.

Over the course of five days, $4,000 was withdrawn from her bank account at several ATMs or charged to the card.

It turns out that the criminal used the mobile pin pad to copy the card.

The victim promptly called her bank, which closed the debit/ credit account and issued a new card.

When she called her local police department in Yorkville, Illnois, they told her that a number of people in other local households had fallen victim to the same scam.

The Better Business Bureau has advice for consumers to protect themselves from similar fraud:

Who sent it? Be wary of any “surprise” gifts or packages, especially if you did not order or expect them. Don’t accept any delivery unless the package identifies the sender or if it comes from someone you don’t know.

A delivery fee is a red flag.

Delivery companies do not require payment of fees as a condition of delivery.

Be stingy with information.

As a general rule, you should never give out financial or personal information to anyone over the telephone, online or at the front door unless you initiated the transaction.

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