Feeds

Parcel mules scam exposed

Cybercrook, keen phisherman seeks reliable partners on dating sites

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Fraudsters are increasingly using middlemen to handle goods fraudulently purchased online. These so-called parcel mules are being recruited through dating sites by unscrupulous conmen posing as potential partners for the lonely and gullible or via bogus job adverts.

A lower rent version of money mules - the intermediaries in phishing scams who receive money taken from compromise bank accounts and transfer it to fraudsters abroad - parcel mules handle fraudulently purchased goods instead of cash transfers.

By using middlemen, the orchestrators of scams find it easier to get goods delivered to overseas location while minimising the possibility that they might be arrested for their misdeeds.

Parcel mules are typically recruited through fake 'job' ads. Spoof websites and even dating sites also play a role in recruiting the accomplices to cybercrime, a program screened in the UK on Monday explains. An investigation by ITV1’s Tonight programme discovered that an unwitting female accomplice - recruited through a dating site - was handling the deliveries of high value goods for a fraudster posing as a volunteer for a children's orphanage in Africa.

The woman received deliveries for goods such as mobile phones, DVD players, and laptops that were picked up every week by van. ITV1’s investigation discovered 12 other women (and they were all women) were doing the same "favour" for other "boyfriends", reckoned to be based in either Nigeria or Ghana. The purchases were made using stolen credit card details purchased in fraud forums and transported overseas through various shipping intermediaries before being picked up by the as-yet unidentified fraudster or gang of conmen orchestrating the scheme.

Andrew Goodwill, a fraud expert with credit card screening service the 3rd Man, was interviewed during the program and is familiar with the details of ITV1’s investigation. Goodwill told El Reg that the parcel mule featured in the program was handling 30 packages a week. The other 12 women doing the same scam may unwittingly be working for the same conmen and are all "women of a certain age from respectable backgrounds", according to Goodwill. No male parcel mules were identified.

Goodwill added that it's possible hundreds or even thousands of other credulous individuals might be involved in the scam. By using shared data schemes, attempts at credit card fraud can be more readily exposed, Goodwill argued, plugging a type of service offered through the third man. Shared databases collate data associated with purchases identified as potentially fraudulent including email addresses, delivery addresses, phone numbers, IP addresses, and compromised card numbers. ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Knock Knock tool makes a joke of Mac AV
Yes, we know Macs 'don't get viruses', but when they do this code'll spot 'em
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
DRUPAL-OPCALYPSE! Devs say best assume your CMS is owned
SQLi hole was hit hard, fast, and before most admins knew it needed patching
Why weasel words might not work for Whisper
CEO suspends editor but privacy questions remain
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
BlackEnergy crimeware coursing through US control systems
US CERT says three flavours of control kit are under attack
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.
Website security in corporate America
Find out how you rank among other IT managers testing your website's vulnerabilities.