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All About Courier Scams Where Fraudsters are Stealing From Victims Right in Front of them

Scammers may try to dupe people expecting a package with fake shipping and delivery notifications.
Cover Image Source: Courier Scam | Pexels | Photo by Mikhail Nilov
Cover Image Source: Courier Scam | Pexels | Photo by Mikhail Nilov

Scammers keep coming up with innovative tactics to target vulnerable netizens in a digital landscape that offers multiple windows into an individual's private space. Now courier services have become the latest avenue for scammers to exploit unsuspecting individuals, supplementing the traditional methods of hacking devices. Disturbingly, these scammers are now taking the audacity of their criminal ploys to the next level by physically visiting potential victims' homes and orchestrating thefts directly in front of them. Referred to as "courier scams," these deceptive tactics have seen a substantial surge from May 2023 to December 2023. According to the FBI, this form of fraud has resulted in a loss of $55 million during this period alone.

A delivery man with packages | Getty Images | Photo by Robert Nickelsberg
Image Source: A delivery man with packages | Getty Images | Photo by Robert Nickelsberg

Scammers engaging in courier fraud adopt deceptive personas, often presenting themselves as tech support representatives or as U.S. government officials. Exploiting victims' fears, they convey alarming information, asserting that the victims' accounts are either hacked or in imminent danger. To safeguard their funds, victims are coerced into converting their assets into cash or precious metals like gold.

Some schemes involve instructing victims to transfer funds to a purported precious metal dealer who promises to dispatch gold. Once entrapped, scammers send fake courier agents to collect items, providing victims with a passcode for authentication. Despite assurances of protection, victims ultimately lose their hard-earned money, and the scammers vanish without a trace.

Image Source: Pexels|Photo by Pixabay
Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Pixabay

In a different courier scam scheme, scammers target individuals with deceptive emails or text messages related to shipments, aiming to extract personal information. They may exploit notifications associated with online purchases, such as order confirmations, shipping updates, and delivery confirmations. They create seemingly identical messages, posing as legitimate delivery services.

For instance, they might claim a delivery attempt was missed and prompt you to click a link to reschedule. Alternatively, they may inform you that an item is ready to ship but insist on updating your shipping preferences, leading to potential phishing attempts.

Image Source: Pexels | SHVETS production
Image Source: Pexels | SHVETS production

A common thread among such schemes across the United States is the disproportionate targeting of senior citizens. The elderly are seen as more vulnerable due to factors such as limited technical knowledge and the fear associated with safeguarding their hard-earned retirement funds. Scammers exploit this vulnerability, emphasizing the need for increased awareness and protective measures within this demographic.

U.S. Postal Service carries parcel packages | Getty Images | Photo by William Thomas Cain
Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by William Thomas Cain

The FTC recommends individuals exercise caution and refrain from clicking on links in messages related to unexpected package deliveries. If there is suspicion about the message's legitimacy, it is important not to contact the supposed shipper using the contact information provided in the note. Instead, individuals are advised to use verified and official contact details, such as the official website or phone number of the courier service.

Taking additional steps to ensure security, individuals are encouraged to verify delivery status directly on the platform where the item was purchased. With holiday parcel shipments expected to reach approximately 82 million parcels a day, staying vigilant against such scams becomes paramount. By adopting these preventive measures, individuals can better protect themselves from falling victim to digital fraud during the holiday season and beyond.