Scam victims used to transfer goods in credit card fraud
Consumer Protection and WA Police are alarmed at new tactics being used by criminals to get fraud victims to transfer goods purchased using stolen or fake credit cards.
The warning follows the recent case of a 49 year old Geraldton woman who received goods from a man she had met on a dating website. The man, who had an Asian accent, claimed to be living in Sydney and working in Canberra. After conversing online and by phone for a couple of months, the man began sending expensive clothing, watches, handbags, shoes and other items to Geraldton, asking the victim to send the parcels on to an address in Bangkok.
Initially the victim agreed and then parcels arrived almost every day, but requests to stop the shipments were ignored. The alarm was raised when she noticed on the shipment docket that some items were purchased by a credit card in her name when she had never possessed a credit card.
The woman ceased communicating with the scammer purporting to be Mark Gavin Cole after contacting Consumer Protection’s Geraldton office. Local police are conducting an investigation and have taken possession of the items. Mark Gavin Cole’s Facebook profile is still active and other people interacting with this person online are urged to cease communications and contact Consumer Protection.
Consumer Protection’s Karratha office has also received a report from a woman who accepted computers from a man she had met online, with instructions to send them to Malaysia. The Department’s Albany office has received a similar report.
Concerned about these recent cases, Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said it was a disturbing twist to scam victims being used as mules.
“Normally scam victims are used as money mules by being asked to receive funds into their bank account and to then send the money to other accounts, usually overseas,” Mr Hillyard said.
“But the receiving and sending of goods purchased fraudulently by stolen or fake credit cards appears to be a new tactic that the community should be made aware of. Alarm bells should ring for people who are asked to receive and then pass on goods by people they don’t know or have only met online.”
Detective Senior Sergeant Steve Potter of the Major Fraud Squad warns victims agreeing to pass on money or goods that they could be taking part in criminal activity.
“Victims who become involved in transferring goods or money for criminals could risk prosecution, so people should be extremely wary when people they have not met in person begin to ask for favours such as these,” Det Snr Sgt Potter said.
“This method is clearly designed to influence innocent people to unknowingly facilitate their criminal operations while the offenders remain anonymous or hide behind fake or stolen identities. We urge everyone to be mindful of this new tactic and contact authorities if they have been asked to receive and transfer goods or money.”
People who suspect they are being used by scammers as mules or who have been communicating with Mark Gavin Cole should contact WA ScamNet by email email@example.com or by calling 1300 30 40 54, or contact Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000. More information on scams is available at www.scamnet.wa.gov.au.
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Illegally bought goods sent to romance fraud victim.
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