Scam disguises itself as ‘Secret Santa’ program

Scam disguises itself as 'Secret Santa' program

We’ve discussed the repackaging or reshipping scam previously. Traditionally, scammers will advertise this scam as a work from home position where your job is to inspect packages you receive from the scammers. Then you’d be instructed to send the contents of the packages to a third party. The third party is usually someone overseas. These positions are often advertised online with such titles as ‘shipping coordinator’, ‘warehouse distribution coordinator, or ‘local hub inspector’. Now, some scammers are adding a Christmas twist to the reshipping scam.

Police in Ohio have reported a number of complaints they’ve received from residents who have received emails asking them to help in a ‘Secret Santa’ program. The email says that participants will have items shipped to them. They’re then supposed to photograph the items before repackaging the items and sending them overseas. We’re guessing that scammers are using the Secret Santa ploy to appeal to our generosity.

The reshipping scam is potentially one of the most damaging scams to its victims for the sole reason that even if the victim is an unwitting participant, it could land them in jail. The items that the scammers send to the reshippers are often either stolen or purchased with stolen financial information. If a reshipper were to falsify shipping documents under the instruction of the scammers to get around US customs they could potentially face jail time.

Another pitfall to the reshipping scam is that the reshippers are often paid with phony funds. Often, the scammers will send a fake or stolen check to the reshipper as payment. The scammers will tell the reshipper to use the phony check to buy supplies and keep a big part of the check as payment. The scammers will then ask for some of the difference back. Once the bank discovers the check is phony, the reshipper would be responsible for the full amount of the check.

If you think you may be a victim in a reshipping scam there are steps you can take. If you’ve already received items don’t mail them. Instead, contact the USPS Postal Inspectors at 1-877-876-2455.