For months, more and more Austrians have been ordering parcels, the practical delivery to the doorstep is popular – plus 30 percent recorded, for example, the post office in the previous year. However, the delivery boom is also prompting fraudsters to invent new scams. Identity theft, in particular, is affecting more and more people. “Cases have exploded recently,” says Martin Heimhilcher, head of the Information and Consulting division at the Vienna Chamber of Commerce. However, not the parcel services or online stores are the fraudsters, but criminals who order parcels with false names so that the victim receives the sometimes high bill, along with subsequent debt collection letters. Heimhilcher explains the scam: “Often, for example, the neighbor’s house number is given and later intercepted by the fraudulent orderer at the parcel carrier.” The lack of time and motivation of the messengers make this easier.
To disguise, free mail addresses with fake information or other names are used for the order. The thieves do not shy away from deceased persons and misuse their names. Even the – freely available – data of companies appear in fake orders. Once the parcel arrives, the fraudster signs for it with a false signature. Criminals also use incorrect addresses and fake registrations for pick-up stations and then pick up the parcel by code – although this is hardly traceable. The bill for the parcel picked up there, however, goes to someone else. Payment details are required in advance and are often provided via stolen credit cards. This enables the fraudsters to pay even more significant amounts.
Individual occasional criminals often carry out these procedures, but the rip-off also works “on a large scale.” These are often criminal individuals who initially act alone but very quickly as a gang. This even recruits “Mules” (English mules), who give away their address for payment and subsequently have big problems with creditors. “Mules” often order large quantities, such as electrical parts, which are sold cheaply in dubious Internet stores.
File a complaint, don’t be intimidated
What to do to avoid such scams: Heimhilcher advises consumers to immediately object to any debt collection demands if fraud has occurred. You don’t have to pay anything if you haven’t ordered anything. Under no circumstances should you be intimidated by a threat of legal action. A quick Google search can also help to find out whether an office is at all reputable or even fake. “In any case, those affected should report the identity theft to the police,” advises the expert. This way, the police can take better action against it and record accumulations.
- hp/picture: pixabay.com