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Crime Transportation Your Rights Online

Shady Reshipping Centers Exposed 143

Posted by timothy
from the shady-shipping-containers-make-cool-houses dept.
Dynamoo writes "Ever wondered how criminals can spirit away the products they buy with stolen credit cards? The answer is that they use surprisingly sophisticated but very shady reshipping centers to launder the goods on their way to Eastern Europe. The bad guys make the money, but it's the mules doing the reshipping who will eventually get caught."
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Shady Reshipping Centers Exposed

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  • "Socialize risk, privatize profit" works well in the underworld too. If you're on the right end of the deal.

  • by Ptur (866963) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @08:05AM (#37700540)
    Reshipping centers only exist because some big corporations refuse to sell their goods to the whole world, causing people to look for ways to pretend to be in the US so they can order the stuff.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      With good reason!

      Lagos Nigeria = fraud center direct. Look up scam baiting. You'll see some lulz.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by LordLimecat (1103839)

      Er, one of the most fundamental rights you have as the owner of a company is determining where and to whom your goods will be sold. I fail to see why thats "blame-worthy"; why should a vendor be forced to sell to you?

      • He never said anything about forcing the companies to do anything. He just stated how the reshipping centers came about.
      • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @08:32AM (#37700796)

        Because it often involves price discrimination, restrictions on free trade or trying to prevent your customers from re-selling their property which is detrimental to a free market.

        • by bryan1945 (301828)

          Well the price discrimination may have something to do with tariffs and the like. Free trade restrictions tend to be a government thing. No comment on the re-selling thing.
          But you really didn't answer why a vendor should not be able to refuse to do business with you. If a known drug dealer, but with no criminal record, wants to buy some guns off of you, does that mean you HAVE TO sell him the guns?

          • by Serpents (1831432)

            Well the price discrimination may have something to do with tariffs and the like.

            Nope, at least in EU you pay all import taxes etc. if you order something in the US or Canada.

          • Depends how you use it and what you use it for.

            It could fall under the heading of anti-competitive practices if it's part of a setup to allow price fixing or if you refuse to deal with a vendor in an attempt to reduce competition in the marketplace or if it involves as can sometimes be the case, dividing territories where you keep out of an area because of a deal with a local company in exchange for them not moving on your market.

            • by bryan1945 (301828)

              OK, fair argument. I was thinking more on an individual customer basis, but I see how having local companies via for territory can get dicey (organized crime pops to mind... which, dang, the story is about). I think I'm just going to set up a lemonade stand out front.

        • Free trade doesnt mean you can choose to set your prices different in different markets. If MS couldnt do that, they would either pull completely out of countries like India and China (where noone would think of paying more than a few dollars for Windows), or they would go out of business (because they could not sustain a business by selling the OS at India / China prices).

          If I am a street vendor, and I flew over here from India, should I not be allowed to sell my wares at US price levels? Should I be for

          • It also doesn't mean you just do whatever you want. There's a whole host of anti-competitive trading practices which can have a negative impact on the market as a whole.

            • And those also fall outside of "free trade", if you want to get super technical. They are restrictions on the free market more than setting your own prices is, is the point (not that they are necessarily bad).

            • An absolutely free market certainly DOES mean that. What on earth do you think "laissez faire" means?

              To be clear, I am not a believer in a full throttle laissez faire system, but that is basically a free market in a nutshell.

          • by Dan667 (564390)
            the internet levels this playing field and there is really no barrier other than artificially created by business. So businesses want to move their operations overseas for cheaper labor, but don't want lower prices brought back. True free trade would allow for the differences in prices to normalize.
            • True free trade allows that company to decide to whom it wants to sell its goods. The fact that more people want to be their customers doesnt affect that.

              • by sycorob (180615)

                US companies want it both ways, though. They want to sell Windows to the US for one price, and to China for a different (lower) price. Right there, that's fine, but if a guy in China wants to sell his Windows copy to me for slightly more and make a profit on it, it's illegal.

                Arbitrage is apparently fine when investors do it, but illegal when the rest of us want to balance out the crazy price differences that exist in the world right now.

                • Well, I would agree that that is not pure free trade. But thats really not relevant to the discussion at all.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Many shops don't want to ship stuff with good old fashioned US Mail and insist on using Fedex/UPS (at huge cost). Unfortunately, large parts of the world is only served by the Post system. So I frequently need to use a reshipping agent just to get some damned thing delivered to my mailbox.

      • They shouldn't. But what they are really doing is price manipulation. They sell in the US first, then in Europe 6 months later. Then complain when a 3rd party buys up the goods in the US and resells them in Europe or vice versa. To the point that they actually cripple their devices so only certain media will work on them.
      • by Meeni (1815694)
        Actually, you pose that as a granted evidence. It is not. Some countries have laws preventing a seller to not do a deal.
      • by Fned (43219)

        Er, one of the most fundamental rights you have as the owner of a company is determining where and to whom your goods will be sold.

        What? No you don't.

        You have a fundamental right to determine where and to whom YOU SELL THEM, not where and to whom they WILL BE SOLD. Very, very big difference.

    • by alen (225700)

      so buy something on a real credit card, pay the bill and ship/resell it over seas. these people deserve to go to jail for stealing

      • what the original poster is talking about is people buying with stolen cards, not delivering it to their address, but to a mule instead, and have that "mule" reship it to their true address. So yes, it deserves jail for the guy who stole your card
    • So, to "deal with" customs and export laws. Should we just be using the word "smuggler", or am I missing something?
    • by EdZ (755139)
      This seems to be different from a regular reshipper/escrow service: instead of a company that buys goods on your behalf, receives the shipment and sends it on to you, this scheme involves recruiting regular people to do the reshipping (but not the purchasing) and act as cut-outs.

      If you're brazen enough, you could potentially sign on with one of these dodgy schemes, retain the valuables (or rather, report it to the original sellers and return them) and re-ship bricks* to the scammers. The obvious problem be
      • by dkf (304284)

        The obvious problem being that you have to tell some rather nasty people where you live.

        So give the address of the local police station instead. Remember, you don't have to tell the truth to crooks about anything. (Yes, it would mean that you don't get to keep the goods yourself, but that's OK because you're not scum. Right?)

        • by EdZ (755139)
          I'm not sure the local constabulary would be too happy with you directing random packages their way. And a quick address look-up would scupper that plan quickly.
      • Use one of those empty up for foreclosure houses a couple of blocks over. If you just happened to be in the front yard doing work when they deliveries are usually made, you might not even need to break into he place.
    • by BondGamer (724662)
      Or maybe they exist because big corporations refuse to sell their goods for a 100% discount.
    • by HTH NE1 (675604)

      But I want to pretend I'm in the UK so I can buy toys from Amazon.co.uk which they won't ship to the US (unless they're attached to a DVD, such as a die cast model of The Liberator attached to a Region 2 season box set of Blakes 7). With my own credit card, too! I can understand that there's differing child safety laws and regulations and costly mandatory testing procedures governing toys but, dammit, I'm an adult!

      They'll let me buy things that should be useless due to DRM and region locking and/or differin

    • The shipping centers the article refers to are NOT the legitimate drop-shipping centers somebody in Europe, Asia, Africa, etc. can use in order to order grey-market products.

      The article is referring to the people in the US that act as a drop-shipper for merchandise purchased using stolen credit cards. The merchandise is shipped overseas where it then becomes nearly impossible to track down who it's going to and recover the goods. Since the goods are purchased with stolen credit cards, they can be offered

  • Wouldn't it be very easy for the police to infiltrate this sort of thing? Just respond to a couple of ads on craiglist, then trace the packages to their final destination.

    • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @08:29AM (#37700770)

      Wouldn't it be very easy for the police to infiltrate this sort of thing? Just respond to a couple of ads on craiglist, then trace the packages to their final destination.

      Yes, only the US has no jurisdiction outside of it's borders and can do dick all about it without using diplomatic channels.

      Oh, wait, ACTA means they practically do. Forget I said anything.

      • by shentino (1139071)

        Screwing the US by letting their own citizens get away with scams can prove to be powerful motive if diplomatic relations are sour enough.

        "To catch an identity thief" revealed some scammers setting up a server in Iran specifically to take advantage of Iran's apathy and outright hostility towards US interests.

        When you're on the run from someone there's not much better than to camp out on someone else's turf that hates the guy chasing you.

    • It would, the thing is it would require cooperation between police forces in multiple countries and afaict unless it is a REALLY serious crime the police are reluctant to put effort into crimes where the victims are half way arround the world.

  • What I'm having a hard time understanding is why people are willingly doing this? What excuses are the "managers" using to convince people that this is legitimate? Having high dollar consumer goods coming in and then shipping them out to a different address should just be a giant red flag to nearly anyone in this day and age. Are these people that desperate for a job that they're willing to turn a blind eye to it or are the "managers" somehow convincing people that this is on the up and up?
    • by MoonBuggy (611105)

      There are plenty of items that are only available in certain countries and are only sold by companies that don't ship internationally. With popular items you can normally find them on eBay with international shipping, but if it's a niche product then your best bet is a re-shipper. It doesn't surprise me for a second that they're being used for fraud, but there is a logical and legitimate purpose to their existence.

      • by bryan1945 (301828)

        Exactly. There is nothing inherently wrong or immoral about reshipping something. There is nothing wrong or immoral about owning a bar. Now if you are reshipping things to get around laws and/or taxes, or holding an illegal gambling saloon in the back room of your bar, well then there is a problem.

        I think a while back UPS, FedEx, and DHA didn't cover all areas, and would need to have one of the companies (or even a local company) "reship" the package. Don't know if that is still true or not.

      • If a legitimate business is recruiting re-shippers to work out of their homes, you can be pretty sure that they are going to require sufficient documentation to do a background check and probably make up get bonded as well; otherwise the prosecutor isn't likely to be amused by your attempt at plausible deniability.

      • Yes, there is a legitimate reason for reshippers to exist. But if you are running a legit reshipping business, you have absolutely no reason to farm it out to random schmucks working out of their house. Indeed, there are a huge number of reasons NOT to do so, the need to prevent theft being the primary one. A single person can physically re-ship hundreds of packages a day; why would a legit business farm it out to a huge number of people, each of which only ships a handful a day?

        But just like other work-

    • Do you have any idea what a distribution channel is? I suppose not, because this is what they do. Business operators enjoy having a one-stop-shop...much less hassle, and having 1 strong relationship is preferable to having many weak ones. Further to this, the distributor gains buying power. (read: cheaper prices, maintained product availability)

      Think of, say, SummitRacing.com, I bet they have a lot of items for sale that they don't stock. How do you think a customer will get their stuff? Drop ship? N
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I think you need to differenciate between legitimate business transactions and "fencing". This article is about "Fencing" (disposing of stolen goods, and yes they are stolen goods because they were bough using a stolen credit card). I think all fencers should be sent to jail.
      For the non-fencing crowd, I see no problem with it. And yes, there are very many legitimate reasons for reshipers (or forward shippers) to exist. Many markets are small and companies do not see profit in serving them, nevertheless ther

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday October 13, 2011 @08:16AM (#37700654)

    It's always the prostitute, the low-level drug dealer, the addict drug runner, etc. who end up in jail. The pimps and high-level drug dealers always walk away clean. Cops have learned that it's a lot easier to go after the low-level easy target than to do the *real* work of busting the scum at the top. That's not to excuse what the low-level scum does, but still, if the cops REALLY wanted to make a dent in this crap (and not just get some press *looking* like they're doing something), they would be taking on the guys who this stuff was shipped *too*. Don't tell me the U.S. couldn't put pressure on Russia and other eastern European counties to deal with this stuff if they really wanted to.

    • Will somebody PLEASE think of the...prostitutes, dealers, and drug runners? I mean, they're really the heart and soul of our illicit underground, and if we don't save them from this sort of senseless abuse by our police, what does that say about the rest of us?
      • You're obviously intentionally misunderstanding his point. Easier to make fun of the "bleeding heart librul" than to confront the issue head on, I suppose. OP isn't excusing crime or criminals. What he's saying is that the low-level low-lifes are the symptom, not the cause. Don't go after the hooker or the drug delivery kid, go after the ruthless pimp and the drug cartel. Sure, it involves actual work, but as anyone who's ever seen a huge drop in spam after a botnet takedown will tell you, doing the wo
        • Pimps have been shown to increase prostitutes' earnings and established cartels generally try to support public order . Obviously law enforcement can't allow that state of affairs, but they also can't eliminate those markets either even if it were possible.
    • "Pressure on Russia"?

      Military or economic? I don't think we're giving them aide- so can't hold that back. They're not a major trading partner to us.

      Europe and China are much more economically linked with Russia than us. Europe needs Russia for oil more than Russia needs them- and China isn't going to do anything.

      Militarily- we're stretched already and a conflict would be stupid and unpopular. They have targets closer to them than we have. It would cost less for them to hurt us than vice-versa; even if

    • There are three parties involved in a crime/crime fighting. The criminal, the victim and the government. Crime fighting is possible only when the victim cooperates with the Government against the criminal. That is why it is possible to keep burglary, theft, assault, murder [*0] etc under reasonable control. There are other "crimes" [*1], like drug use, smuggling, black market, prostitution etc etc. There the victim cooperates with the criminal, and it is very very difficult to fight these crimes.

      [*0] The

    • It's the same the whole world over
      It's the poor what gets the blame
      It's the rich what gets the pleasure
      Ain't it all a bloomin' shame?

      - Billy Bennett - 1930

    • by Dr. Noooo (90976)

      The credit card companies in the U.S. could take more measures to prevent the credit card fraud in the first place. The fact that they don't implies to me that they just accept the fraud as a cost of doing business, passing that cost on to their customers.

      http://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/outdated-smart-card-chip-pin-1273.php [creditcards.com]

    • Steal 100 bucks and you are a theif and go to jail. Steal 100 billion and you get paid by the government to keep stealing.
    • by Hentes (2461350)

      I don't think America can put any pressure on Russia. Their relations are not really friendly.

    • by sjames (1099)

      Sadly, in this case, the little guy at the bottom who didn't even know a crime was being committed tends to get scammed by the crooked reshipper and then gets dogpiled by the cops.

  • Hmm... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wren337 (182018) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @08:20AM (#37700694) Homepage

    1) Set up in a foreclosed house somewhere
    2) Answer ad on Craigslist for reshipping job
    3) Keep merchandise, send out packages weighted with bricks
    4) Disappear before 1st package arrives in Russia
    5) Profit???

    • by HBI (604924)

      6. Get popped by an 'associate' of those you defrauded.

      • by jpapon (1877296)
        There's no way they would bother coming after you for a few thousand in merchandise. It would just cost way too much.

        Not to mention, if you used an abandoned house, they would have nothing to come after.

    • by swb (14022)

      I always wondered why someone wasn't capitalizing on ripping off the credit card fraud guys this way.

      AFAIK, the "reshipping jobs" are always setup so that the "reshipper" is kept at an arm's length from the people committing the fraud, so that when the reshipper is ultimately caught, he has no idea who hired him.

      At this point, why not rip them off? If you were careful about keeping your anonymity (internet accounts, phone numbers, drop address), the built-in arm's length nature of the transaction works in

    • Re:Hmm... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by BigSes (1623417) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @10:17AM (#37702030)
      This works better than you think, or worked I should say. A friend of mine did it for a year or two with an empty house across the street from his (this is back in the AOL days), he eventually got caught by one person and was forced to pay them back $250 that he charged on their stolen card number. That doesnt make up for the $1000s he got prior to getting caught. He actually bought a CRATE of Sega Saturns when they were first released. He would order stuff on a stolen card number and just watch the porch for delivery, then go and get the packages. I dont know what he did with most of the stuff he ordered, because this was before eBay or Craigslist as well.
    • Some people are already doing things like that, but they don't try to profit from it. Why not join in on the fun.

      http://www.thescambaiter.com/ [thescambaiter.com]

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      You will still have to take the blame from the scam victim if the police finds you.

  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @08:55AM (#37701042)

    And let them just ship all they want and they will never get them back.

    1060 west addison Chicago, IL 60613

    • Is that a well known thing in Chicago (to use that address for nefarious dealings)? It even has a postal code?

      (For the lazy /.ers: it's a parking lot near lake Michigan)
      • by bnyrbl (1014257)

        Is that a well known thing in Chicago (to use that address for nefarious dealings)? It even has a postal code? (For the lazy /.ers: it's a parking lot near lake Michigan)

        Actually, it's Wrigley Field.

      • by Dr. Cody (554864)

        Clearly a Sox fan...

  • If FedEx, UPS and USPS worked with the Credit Card companies and the Police, this could be stopped quickly. Once a known fraudulent card is used to ship to an address, mark all shipments to that address as suspicious, and track them down to their source.

    Yes, it'd be a huge data mining operation, and yes Congress would have to pass some laws to bypass anti-trust laws, but it's feasible. No, you'd never get the legislature, law enforcement and business to agree on enough to make this work.
  • by jpapon (1877296) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @09:55AM (#37701758) Journal
    So wait, all I have to do is respond to some douche's ad on craigslist, and he'll start sending me expensive electronics? All I have to do is tell them I'll reship them?

    Seems rather amazing to me that nobody is stepping in and just receiving the items without reshipping them. Or shipping boxes filled with junk instead of the electronics.

    Disclaimer: I do not suggest doing this, and wish to strongly emphasize that any stolen merchandise received by anyone should be immediately returned to the store it was stolen from.

    • You do like your kneecaps how they are right? As in unshattered?

    • So wait, all I have to do is respond to some douche's ad on craigslist, and he'll start sending me expensive electronics? All I have to do is tell them I'll reship them?

      Seems rather amazing to me that nobody is stepping in and just receiving the items without reshipping them. Or shipping boxes filled with junk instead of the electronics.

      Disclaimer: I do not suggest doing this, and wish to strongly emphasize that any stolen merchandise received by anyone should be immediately returned to the store it was stolen from.

      The electronics are paid for with a stolen credit card, so if a few of the reshippers don't forward what they are shipped, there isn't much of a monetary loss. I guess it's kind of like spam. Even though tens of thousands of people get the same spam email, if only a small number take the bait, the spammer still profits.

      • by shentino (1139071)

        Spam is not profitable if you include his "partners" in the equation.

        Namely, the owners of the computers that are infected and drafted into the botnet the spammer is using.

        I bet that if the spammer had to send all the email himself on his own dime it would be very much not profitable.

        It only works because they steal resources belonging to other people.

        • Spam is not profitable if you include his "partners" in the equation.

          Namely, the owners of the computers that are infected and drafted into the botnet the spammer is using.

          I bet that if the spammer had to send all the email himself on his own dime it would be very much not profitable.

          It only works because they steal resources belonging to other people.

          That isn't any different than the issue in TFA. In this case, the resources being stolen are money, not computing power and internet access. If the fraudsters were buying electronics with their own money and selling them for 30% of the retail price, they wouldn't be profitable either.

    • These poor "reshippers" get visited by the cops all the time. Their (usually perfectly valid) defense is that they were unwitting gullible dupes in a scam. That defense isn't going to work so well when the cops see stacks of new boxes in your living room.

    • by sjames (1099)

      It probably DOES happen, but the cards they buy the products on are stolen so they're not out much.

      They may or may not break a few kneecaps to keep the problem under control.

  • Online retailers typically get some kind of notice of a fraudulent credit card within a day or so of charging/shipping a product right? So, in theory, if someone handling a drop were notified by the retailer that they have stolen goods and should ship it back, all would be well, right? If the person handling the drop doesn't intend criminal behavior, they can just ship it back, and no need to get stuck doing anything illegal. In addition, these online retailers have to have records of refused credit cards,
  • Couldn't we make this much more difficult if we simply required the item sale and the shipping to be charged to 2 different credit cards from the same billing address if the shipping address on the order isn't the same as the billing address on the card used? Sure it would make buying and shipping Christmas presents a bit more of a hassle, but the crook would need TWO of your cards in order to fraudulently buy anything.

    Could be a terrible idea, but seems pretty simple and only a minor inconvenience.
  • by afabbro (33948)

    The US Postal Service made a series of CSI-type movies a few years ago...one of them was "Work @Home Scams" and covered remailers:

    Work @Home Scams [youtube.com]

    It's well done for a government video...though why the government needs to be making action movies is a separate question.

  • It all sounds like proxy servers for physical goods.

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