Gift Baskets that Keep on Giving – To Thieves

Gift Baskets that Keep on Giving – To Thieves
Posted on 08/02/2017

 By CHPD Chief Robby Russo

This scam is actually very clever. There is never a shortage of creative thinking when it comes to frauds designed to get your money.  This was sent to me by a friend:  Beware of people bearing gifts. 

This scam begins with a phone call from someone saying that he is from a courier service and he’ll ask if you are going to be home in an hour because there was a package that required a signature. If you’re like my family we shop online and often receive packages.  The delivery driver will show up at your home with a beautiful basket of flowers and a bottle of wine. Since you’re not expecting anything and it’s not a holiday, it’s surprising but seems very thoughtful.  When you ask the driver about the sender or a card he’ll say he has no idea, he’s just a driver, …“but a card would be sent separately.”

Here comes the “hook.” There’s a consignment note with the gift. The driver will explain that because the gift contained alcohol, there was a $3.50 "delivery/verification charge," providing proof that he had actually delivered the package to an adult (of legal drinking age), and did not just leave it on the doorstep where it could be stolen or taken by anyone, especially a minor. This sounds logical and if it were a scam, $3.50 is all he’s getting, right?  Next, you’ll be told they won’t let drivers handle cash so you’ll need to use your credit or debit, so that everything is properly accounted for, and this would help in keeping a legal record of the transaction. Besides, the concerned company doesn’t want their drivers “targeted” for cash by thieves.  

The dirty secret is, they carry a card reader so once you pull out your credit card and PIN, it’s captured by the device. They will even print you out a receipt. The thieves then print a duplicate of your card and along with your PIN number will drain your accounts within days/hours.

We’ve also been seeing an increase in card skimming devices being placed inside gas pumps. The bandits have to pick the locks or use one of the many universal keys to place the device. For your protection, most fueling stations are placing a security sticker/tape on the door so you can see if someone has opened the pump before you insert your card. The best advice is to look for the security tape and if possible, use credit instead of a debit transaction that could unwittingly surrender your PIN.