by Libby Hellmann
Here’s a puzzler of a crime that’s happening to my sister, even as we speak. Although it’s hard to see how anyone is profiting. If you have any thoughts on who, why, or what’s really going on, please -- leave a comment.
In early July, my sister received an email from the Bank of America Fraud Department asking her to call them. When she did, she was told there were about 20 charges on her credit card all on the same day, ranging from $24 to $48. They were all listed as “USPS Click and Ship,” an internet service that allows you to print postage online for packages and large envelopes.
My sister told them she hadn’t made any of those charges, so the bank cancelled her card and gave her credit for all the charges. They told her she’d have to fill out a fraud report. No problem so far, right? Just your average identity theft.
But then, two nights later, she began receiving phone calls from people she didn’t know telling her they’d received a package with her name and return address on it. Inside each package was a personal check for about $2,000, drawn from various banks with real account numbers, names and addresses of the account owner printed on the checks, and, of course, their “signatures.” Each person had received a check from a different person.
The callers had never heard of my sister… or the people who signed the checks. Neither had my sister. She got back in touch with BOA who added the information to her file and speculated that the people whose accounts were used were probably victims as well.
In this day and age of identity theft, it’s not hard to imagine that someone stole my sister’s name, address, and credit card number. Or that they also managed to get checking account information from other strangers.
But why send checks to people who have no idea why they’re getting them? Who’s profiting? What’s the scam? Were the recipients supposed to deposit the checks, use the money, then find out the checks bounced? Was this a way just to get MORE account information from innocent people, ie, the check recipients?
There are other questions, too. Are the people whose accounts were used for the checks being ripped off in other ways besides the checks? Why use my sister’s name and address on the envelope? Didn't they realize the people who got the checks would probably track my sister down?
Which raises the final set of questions...Are these the dumbest identity thieves around? A Keystone Cops gang? Or is there some grand complex scam I’m not aware of?
What do you think? I really want to figure this out.