Scammers Sending Someone To Your Home – A New Trend –

A New Trend – Scammers Sending Someone To Your Home

Using Outsourced Couriers To Pick Up Money Or To Reestablish Contact With The Victims

How Scammers Operate – A SCARS Insight

A Disturbing New Trend – ‘Home Pick-Up’ – Scammers Are Using Outsourced Couriers To Pick Up Money Directly From Their Victims

Over the last couple of years, scammers/cybercriminals have developed a new technique to better assure that they get the money from their victims called Home Pick-Up.

While this is showing up in a small number of cases, it is an alarming new trend in the evolution of both long-term scams (long cons) such as romance scams; and short-term scams (short cons) such as Grandparent Scams, Government Impersonation Scams and more.

The New Scammer Model – The Home Pickup Scam

As we all know, scammers continue to evolve their tactics to deceive innocent individuals. One of the latest alarming trends is the “Home Pickup” scam, where fraudsters manipulate victims into unwittingly facilitating their own financial downfall.

This cunning new approach preys on vulnerability and trust, often leaving victims devastated and financially depleted.

Let’s delve into the workings of the “Home Pickup” scam, how scammers operate, and crucial tips to protect yourself from falling victim to their latest ploys.

Anatomy of the Scammer’s “Home Pickup” Scam

The “Home Pick-Up” scam typically unfolds through a series of manipulative steps designed to lower the victim’s guard and exploit their goodwill.

Here’s how it often plays out:

  1. Spring the Scam: Scammers may impersonate familiar institutions, claiming to represent charities, government agencies, or even financial organizations. They may also impersonate a family member or friend in trouble. They establish trust by using official-sounding language and adopting a sense of urgency. However, in reality, this technique can be applied to any type of fraud.
  2. Urgency: There is always an urgent situation. As an integral part of the storyline, scammers create a sense of urgency by convincing the victim that they must pay a sum of money to avoid a terrible outcome. They claim that a representative will be dispatched immediately to the victim’s home to pick up the money to assure the victim that the urgent situation is addressed rapidly.
  3. The Payment: Before the “representative” arrives, scammers often ask the victims to go to a local automatic teller machine or cash point to have the cash ready for pickup. Scammers usually ask that the money be in a sealed envelope or package for security.
  4. Home Pickup: After the victim agrees to make the payment, the scammer arranges for the “representative” to visit the victim’s home to collect the money. In most cases, the “representative” is an unsuspecting individual performing a courier pick or sometimes it is an unwitting money mule deceived into carrying out the fraudsters’ instructions.
  5. Delivery: The unwitting “representative” arrives at the victim’s home, collects the money, and leaves never to be seen again. They will then follow the criminal’s instructions to send the money by whatever means requested.

Victims are not given an opportunity to refuse because they believe in the scammer’s storyline and that they have no choice in this!

The Damage Done By The Scammers

Victims of the “Home Pick-Up” scam not only suffer monetary losses but also experience significant emotional distress and a profound sense of violation because the scammers (they believe) actually came to their homes!

Normally, online scammers are physically harmless, meaning they do their work from afar and hide behind the screen. Only in a tiny number of cases do scammers ever get violent and that is almost always where they are based. However, even though we know that the scammers are (usually) not showing up to pick up the money, this can cause real fear in the victim’s minds, escalating trauma and creating unique challenges for their recovery.

How The Scammers Do It

One of the many resources that scammers are now using is UBER! Yes, the rideshare service also offers package pick-up and delivery. Uber Connect Same-Day Package Delivery

However, there is a huge number of package pick-up services available that scammers can have do the pickup and delivery to their local or to a trans-shipper location.

How Does It Work?

  1. The scammer arranges for a pick-up through an app or by phone and pays for the service.
  2. A pickup and delivery driver shows up at the victim’s location (never knowing they are a scam victim.)
  3. The driver collects the package, usually never identifying themselves – though sometimes that scammer stays on the phone with the victim so they can confirm with the driver who they are and that they have the package.
  4. The driver leaves, without the victim knowing who they are, and then delivers the package with the money where the scammer wants it

It is all very simple and clean, and the victim is left believing that they did everything right. Only later do they find out that it was all fraud, but with no way of telling law enforcement who it was that picked up their money.

Based upon limited intelligence, SCARS believes that these are being conducted by a small number of transnational organized crime networks, but as with any success the word will spread and we will see more and more of these.

Examples:

  • In 2021, a woman in Florida was scammed out of $20,000 by someone who pretended to be her grandson. The scammer called the woman he was a family member that had been arrested in Canada and needed money to get out of jail. The scammer then sent someone to the woman’s home to collect the money.
  • In 2020, a man in Texas was scammed out of $10,000 by someone who pretended to be a government employee. The scammer called the man and said that he owed back taxes. The scammer then sent someone to the man’s home to collect the money.
  • In 2019, a woman in New York was scammed out of $5,000 by someone who pretended to be her son. The scammer called the woman and said that he had been in a car accident and needed money for medical bills. The scammer then sent someone to the woman’s home to collect the money.
  • In 2022, a woman in California was scammed out of $15,000 by someone who pretended to be from the IRS. The scammer called the woman and said that she owed back taxes. The scammer then sent someone to the woman’s home to collect the money.
  • In 2021, a man in Arizona was scammed out of $10,000 by someone who pretended to be from a tech support company. The scammer called the man and said that his computer had been infected with a virus. The scammer then sent someone to the man’s home to collect the money.
  • In 2020, a woman in Florida was scammed out of $5,000 by someone who pretended to be from a charity. The scammer called the woman and said that she had won a prize, but she needed to pay a processing fee to claim it. The scammer then sent someone to the woman’s home to collect the money.
  • A woman in Ohio received a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS. The caller said that the woman owed back taxes and that she needed to pay immediately. The caller then sent someone to the woman’s home to collect the money. The woman gave the scammer the money, but later found out that the IRS had never called her.
  • A man in Florida received a knock at his door from someone claiming to be from a security company. The person said that the man’s home had been targeted by burglars and that he needed to pay for a security system. The man paid the person $500, but later found out that the security company did not exist.
  • A woman in Texas received a call from someone claiming to be from a charity. The caller said that the woman’s name had been drawn as a winner in a raffle, but she needed to pay a processing fee to claim her prize. The woman paid the fee, but later found out that she had not actually won anything.
  • In 2020, a woman in Florida was scammed out of $10,000 by a person who posed as her grandson. The scammer called the woman and said that he was in jail and needed money to bail himself out. The woman agreed to send the money, and a man came to her home to pick it up. The man was later arrested and charged with fraud.
  • In 2019, a man in Texas was scammed out of $20,000 by a person who posed as a shipping company representative. The scammer called the man and said that he had a package for him that needed to be paid for in order to be delivered. The man agreed to pay the fee, and a man came to his home to pick up the money. The man was later arrested and charged with fraud.
  • In 2018, a woman in California was scammed out of $30,000 by a person who posed as a representative of a sweepstakes company. The scammer called the woman and said that she had won a prize in a sweepstakes, but she needed to pay a fee in order to claim her prize. The woman agreed to pay the fee, and a man came to her home to pick up the money. The man was later arrested and charged with fraud.
  • In 2021, a woman in New York was scammed out of $40,000 by a person who posed as a government agent. The scammer called the woman and said that she owed money in taxes and that she needed to pay the fee in order to avoid going to jail. The woman agreed to pay the fee, and a man came to her home to pick up the money. The man was later arrested and charged with fraud.
  • In 2022, a man in Illinois was scammed out of $50,000 by a person who posed as a representative of a tech company. The scammer called the man and said that his computer had been infected with a virus and that he needed to pay a fee in order to have it fixed. The man agreed to pay the fee, and a man came to his home to pick up the money. The man was later arrested and charged with fraud.
  • In 2023, a woman in Ohio was scammed out of $60,000 by a person who posed as a friend of her daughter. The scammer called the woman and said that her daughter had been in an accident and needed money for medical expenses. The woman agreed to send the money, and a man came to her home to pick it up. The man was later arrested and charged with fraud.
  • A woman in California received a call from someone claiming to be her grandson. The caller said that he had been in a car accident and needed money to pay for medical expenses. The woman agreed to send the money, and a man came to her home to pick it up. The man was later arrested and charged with fraud.
  • A man in Florida received a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS. The caller said that the man owed money in taxes and that he needed to pay the fee immediately. The man agreed to pay the fee, and a man came to his home to pick it up. The man was later arrested and charged with fraud.
  • A woman in Texas received a call from someone claiming to be from a sweepstakes company. The caller said that the woman had won a prize, but she needed to pay a fee in order to claim her prize. The woman agreed to pay the fee, and a man came to her home to pick it up. The man was later arrested and charged with fraud.

Another Strange Case

We were informed of a case where a scam victim had stopped the scam and broken off all contact with the scammers.

But the scammers were not accepting defeat, so they ordered a pizza to be sent to the victim! The scammers made four attempts to reengage the victim using pizza delivery.

The first two were via Pizza Hut, and of those two, the first attempt did make contact with the victim by the offender calling in the order and saying that the person at the house would pay for it, and asking that when the driver get there they call the scammer and hand the phone to the victim. In this case, the pizza delivery person was a 20-year-old college student. He thought it was a family member trying to get in touch with their elderly parent. The victim hung up on the offender three times at which point the college kid realized this was not a good situation. When the offender called back the kid told the scammer that he would not provide any more help. The scammer did not pay for the pizza so it went back to the shop. Fortunately, the victim reported this to law enforcement who made contact with Pizza Hut and told them what was going on. The pizza chain marked the address as a non-delivery address. The scammer made another attempt but the shop blocked him and told him to not call back. Kudos to Pizza Hut for their cooperation.

The two other attempts were via Domino’s Pizza. Similar scenario to the previous attempts: when the pizza delivery person got to the house, they had the scammer on the phone and the phone was handed to the victim. The victim had to end the call multiple times before the attempted contact ended. The local elder services went to Domino’s and spoke with management letting them know the seriousness of this situation. They tried to get a similar response from them as had been obtained from Pizza Hut, but they ended up being more difficult to work with.

After that there was a fourth attempt (second at Domino’s), this time it was ordered online and the Domino’s staff went out to the house. The victim successfully held their ground, again. Domino’s was again uncooperative and local law enforcement was notified.

These are just a few more examples of how scammers have sent someone to pick up money from the victim’s home or to make contact. The last one is especially concerning since it demonstrates that some scammers will simply not give up. But using the tactic of a delivery person is dangerous not only in scams but also in stalking and domestic abuse cases as well.

It is important to be aware of these scams and to never give money to someone you do not know and trust.

How To Avoid These Scams

If you receive a call or email from someone asking for money, hang up the phone, and mark the email as spam or a phishing scam.

If you get a call from someone pretending to be a family member, get the information and find the official phone number then call to confirm the story. Never take anything you hear at face value without verifying.

If you are not sure if a sweepstakes or lottery is legitimate, you can contact the Better Business Bureau or the National Association of State Attorneys General.

If you think you have been scammed, you should report it to your local police first. We recommend that you also consider a protection order if the money was picked up at your home – just in case, the police can help you with that. For other places to report visit reporting.AgainstScams.org

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