FBI, USPIS investigation shut down 17 website scams

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) – The US Postal Inspection Service and the FBI on Thursday seized and shut down 17 website domain names linked to work-from-home and reshipment fraud.

An investigation into this scam began in February 2021 when a scammer used someone else’s credit card to purchase a virtual reality headset and had it shipped to a home in Hazelwood.

According to a press release from US Attorney Sayler Fleming, the scammers tricked people looking for jobs into receiving stolen goods and then shipping those stolen items to another address controlled by the scammers.

The people involved in this scam believed they were taking legitimate work from home jobs with a real company. These people, unwittingly involved in this scam, were used to shield the perpetrators from law enforcement.

According to US Attorney Fleming’s release, investigators found several links leading them to believe the scammers were in Russia.

One victim of the Hazelwood scam believed she was taking a home job for a company called LocalPost as a quality control inspector. She was paid $20 to have a package delivered to her address, where she took a picture of the product and then shipped the items back to a different address.

The Hazelwood woman allowed investigators to use her credentials to log into LocalPost’s online dashboard, where they discovered 25 packages mailed to Hazelwood’s address. One of the items was a $1,500 laptop that was fraudulently purchased using a St. Louis County man’s credit card.

Another victim in Texas believed they took a position as a logistics inspector at another company linked to the scam. This victim had spent approximately $32,000 which they believed would be reimbursed but never was.

The FBI’s Cybercrime Complaints Center received 64 complaints related to these scams. The Federal Trade Commission received 56 complaints about the websites involved in these scams.

“Even though the scammers who have scammed countless people are hiding from justice in foreign countries, by shutting down these websites, we have ended their ability to continue the scams,” Fleming said. “This case should serve as a warning to them and anyone who may be tricked into engaging in similar scams in the future. Anyone approached with a work-from-home opportunity should conduct a thorough investigation of their potential employer before providing any personal information.”

One way to protect yourself from these scams is to verify the information before offering any private information.

“This is another type of cyber scam that criminals, often overseas, use to harass hard-working Americans,” said lead Special Agent Jay Greenberg of the FBI’s St. Louis Division. “To avoid the vast majority of online scams, make it a habit to always doubt and double-check. With this type of scheme, do an internet search for the “business addresses” provided, then call the phone number of that location to verify.”

Information on how to spot this type of scam can be found at the Federal Trade Commission and AARP.

You can report these crimes to the US Postal Inspection Service or the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.