Parcel Mules: How Criminals Lure Them In And The Consequences
Parcel mules and reshipping scams: What you need to know
Parcel mules are people who unknowingly transport illegal goods for criminals. They are often lured into the role through seemingly legitimate job postings or online ads. Parcel mules may be asked to receive and reship packages, or to simply transport packages from one location to another.
Criminals use parcel mules to transport a wide range of illegal goods, including drugs, weapons, stolen property, and counterfeit goods. By using parcel mules, criminals can avoid detection and prosecution.
Parcel mules and reshipping scams are a type of fraud in which scammers use unsuspecting people to transport illegal goods. The scammers typically recruit their victims through online job postings or ads, and they promise them high pay for little work. However, once the victims agree to participate in the scam, they are essentially acting as couriers for the scammers, and they could face serious legal consequences if they are caught.
How Parcel Mule and Reshipping Scams Work
Parcel mule and reshipping scams typically work in the following way:
- The scammer recruits a victim by posting a job ad or ad online. The ad may promise high pay for little work, and it may be for a position such as “shipping clerk” or “package handler.”
- The victim applies for the job and is hired by the scammer. The scammer then provides the victim with instructions on how to receive and reship packages.
- The victim receives packages from the scammer. These packages may contain illegal goods, such as drugs, weapons, or stolen property.
- The victim reships the packages to another country, or to another location within the same country.
- The scammer collects the packages from the final destination and sells the goods contained within them.
Why Scammers Use Parcel Mules
Scammers use parcel mules for a number of reasons.
- First, it is a way for them to transport illegal goods without being detected. If the victim is caught, the scammer can simply deny any knowledge of the scam.
- Second, it is a way for scammers to avoid paying taxes on the goods they sell.
- And third, it is a way for scammers to launder money.
How Criminals Lure Parcel Mules
Criminals use a variety of methods to lure people into becoming parcel mules. Some common methods include:
- Job postings: Criminals may post job ads online or in newspapers that offer high salaries for relatively easy work. The job ads may be for positions such as “shipping clerk,” “package handler,” or “freelance courier.”
- Online ads: Criminals may also place ads on websites and social media platforms. These ads may offer free products, gift cards, or other incentives in exchange for transporting packages.
- Personal relationships: Criminals may also target people they know personally, such as friends, family members, or neighbors. They may offer these people money or other favors to transport packages for them.
According to Business Insider:
Fraud experts worry ‘parcel mule’ scams are on the rise as people look for ways to make extra income. Here’s how to avoid falling for one.
- “Parcel mules” participate in a scam where they receive and send illegal packages.
- The reshipping scam is often disguised as employment, experts told Insider.
- Consider the work required and how much it pays to assess the validity of employment offers.
It was the leaf blowers that sounded the alarms.
Sure, the company email address with a misspelling was odd. And the promise of a $2,400-a-month base salary for a job that didn’t require much work sounded a little too good to be true.
But Stephen, who’s based in Louisiana and in his 30s but asked to keep his last name anonymous for privacy reasons, was in the thick of a long job search, having been out of work for about a year and a half. And Bimco Ship, the company he’d signed up to work for in March after it reached out to him via email, seemed to have just enough professionalism for him to give it the benefit of the doubt. Until the leaf blowers showed up.
Specifically, 10 leaf blowers, which Stephen estimated, based on product listings, were valued at more than $2,000 total, were delivered to his home at the end of March, he told Insider. His job, the company told him, was to open the external packages — not the actual items — verify the contents, put new shipping labels on the packages, and send them to wherever his employer instructed him.
Read the full story here: ‘Parcel Mule’ Scams Are on the Rise. Here’s How to Avoid Them. (businessinsider.com)
The Consequences of Being a Parcel Mule
If you are caught transporting illegal goods for criminals, you could face serious consequences. These consequences may include:
- Arrest and prosecution: You could be arrested and charged with a crime, such as drug trafficking or money laundering. If convicted, you could face a prison sentence and a fine.
- Criminal record: Even if you are not convicted of a crime, having a criminal record can make it difficult to find employment or housing in the future.
- Financial losses: If you are caught transporting illegal goods, you may lose any money that you were paid to do so. You may also be responsible for any fines or legal fees that are incurred.
How to Avoid Becoming a Parcel Mule
There are a few things you can do to avoid becoming a parcel mule:
- Be wary of job postings and online ads: If you see a job posting or online ad that offers high pay for relatively easy work, be wary. It is likely a scam.
- Do your research: If you are considering taking a job as a package handler or courier, do your research to make sure that the company is legitimate. You can check online reviews and ask friends and family for recommendations.
- Be suspicious of personal requests: If someone you know asks you to transport packages for them, be suspicious. Even if you trust the person, it is possible that they are unknowingly transporting illegal goods.
- Use common sense: If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you are unsure about whether or not a job opportunity is legitimate, it is best to err on the side of caution and avoid it.
If you believe that you have been scammed into becoming a parcel mule, you should contact law enforcement immediately.
Here are some additional tips to help you avoid becoming a parcel mule:
- Never agree to transport packages that you do not know what is in them.
- Never agree to receive and reship packages from unknown senders.
- Never agree to transport packages that are coming from or going to countries that are known for drug trafficking or other illegal activities.
- If you are asked to transport packages that require you to cross a border, be sure to check with customs and border protection to make sure that the goods are legal to import or export.
If you are unsure about whether or not a job opportunity is legitimate, it is best to err on the side of caution and avoid it.
What to do if You Think You may be a Parcel Mule
If you think you may be a parcel mule, it is important to contact law enforcement immediately. They will be able to investigate the situation and provide you with assistance.
Tips for Property Owners
If you think your address is being used by parcel mules, there are a few things you can do:
- Be vigilant. Pay attention to the packages that are being delivered to your address. If you receive a package that you did not order, do not open it. Instead, contact the shipping company or the police.
- Install security cameras. Security cameras can help to deter crime and can also provide evidence if you are a victim of a scam.
- Be careful whom you give your address to. Only give your address to people and organizations that you trust.
- Monitor your credit report. Scammers may use your personal information to open credit accounts in your name. Monitor your credit report regularly to check for any unauthorized activity.
- Contact the shipping companies. If you start receiving packages that you did not order, contact the shipping companies to let them know but also file a police report. They may be able to block the packages from being delivered to your address.
- File a report with the police. You can also file a report with the police. They may be able to investigate the matter and track down the scammers.
If you start receiving packages that are not addressed to you, that is a red flag and may indicate that your address is being used for reshipping scams. Keep those packages and contact your local police. This could very well be stolen merchandise and for your own safety, it is important to report these. If the merchants start seeing fraudulent orders sent to your address they could end up reporting you.
Parcel mule and reshipping scams are a serious problem, and they can have devastating consequences for the victims. If you think you may be involved in a parcel mule scam, it is important to contact law enforcement immediately.