Shipping Scam Surfaces in St. Charles

Scammers hijack residents’ UPS, FedEx accounts; the practice typically targets small businesses for advance check fraud.

Two St. Charles, Ill., residents recently reported to police that someone hijacked their FedEx and UPS accounts to send 116 packages around the country, likely as part of an advance check or other scam. | Credit: Patch file
Two St. Charles, Ill., residents recently reported to police that someone hijacked their FedEx and UPS accounts to send 116 packages around the country, likely as part of an advance check or other scam. | Credit: Patch file

If you have an account with FedEx or UPS, you might want to check to make sure the shipping charges you are being billed for are all your packages, or your name could be tied to several scams used by hijackers of such accounts.

Two St. Charles residents told police their accounts with the two shipping giants had been hacked and that someone used their accounts to ship 116 packages to locations all over the United States.

Both reports were made Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013 to St. Charles police.

One resident told police his UPS account had been compromised by someone who used it to ship 41 packages all over the nation. The packages were shipped from a location in Ohio, the report states.

The victim told police he started hearing from other businesses who called to tell him his company’s name had been used on the shipping label. At one point, he received a call from a woman who said his company’s name and account number had been used on fraudulent checks that were being sent via his UPS account.

The man told police he contacted UPS, which locked his account and stopped 26 of the 41 packages. UPS is investigating the matter, police said.

In a second incident, a St. Charles man told police he had received a call from a woman in Florida who wanted to know why he had sent her a package containing a money order with instruction to deposit it.

Police believe the package is related to a scam in which bogus checks are sent to victims who are asked to deposit the checks, keep some for themselves, and send the rest by money order back to the scammer.

Typically, by the time the bank discovers the check is fraudulent, the victim already has purchased and sent the money order and now faces repaying the bank.

The St. Charles man told police he then learned that between Nov. 25 and Nov. 26, someone had shipped 75 packages using his FedEx account at a cost of $1,500. He contacted FedEx, which closed the account. The packages, the report states, had been shipped from New Jersey. FedEx is investigating the matter.

Shipping Scam Targets Small Businesses

Scambusters.org says the shipping scam is new in the shipping industry and targets UPS and FedEx accounts for small businesses, which not only face the possibility of paying for the illicit shipments, but also risk their reputation by having their names connected to the scams.

According to a post by Scambusters.org, the scammers hack into a UPS or FedEx account, often for sending out fraudulent advance payment checks or shipping drugs.

Scambusters.org says the crime is a tough one to crack, since legitimate business accounts are being used. Shipping labels, the website states, sometimes include the client’s account number, which scammers target. Some businesses also post their account numbers online for the legitimate use of their employees.

“In the case of bogus checks, the use of legitimate company accounts also helps the scammers in their efforts to convince recipients that the deal, in which they're supposed to wire money, is genuine,” Scambusters.org states.

The second incident in St. Charles bears the hallmark of the fraudulent check scam, evidenced by the call the victim received from a woman in Florida. She apparently was wary enough to wonder if the package was legitimate and called the victim,

Some safety tips to be gleaned from the Scambusters.org post:

  • Don’t include your shipping account information on shopping labels.

  • Protect your shipping account information. If online, protect it by the use of firewalls.

  • Make sure your company’s computer systems are secure. Sometimes the account information is gained by a hacker who knows how to get past poor security systems and steal information they can use.

  • Closely monitor your accounts — shipping companies typically do not reimburse customers who have been victimized by fraudulent activity.


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