Many students in Europe are looking for part-time jobs to fund their studies. But, there are many scams, such as the reshipping scam that exploits unsuspecting students for illegal activities. Recently, we came across such an offer. The “employer” announced that he was planning to open an Freight forwarding company and was seeking job-assistants. The pay was good, nearly € 1000 euros per month. We got interested and asked him more details about the job.
Duties expected of the student
The scenario at play is called the reshipping scam. It’s about buying goods from Amazon, eBay, etc., in the European market and shipping the products to clients around the world. The first thing the students were told was that there was a lot of demand for European goods and the idea is to provide the customers outside European Union access to goods available at the local European market. The reshipping scam operators also told students that the goods in Europe were cheaper and at better quality than in target countries. They also mentioned customers that order just single items and want it to be delivered as quickly as possible. On surface, it appeared all legitimate – that the scammer’s mission was to provide customers with a 1st class service, including payment, shipping, and gift wrapping assistance.
What is scam about?
Let’s assume that you are a client and are residing in Australia. When you want to buy some electronic goods from Europe, you will go to this company and register yourself as a client. You can either make a direct purchase at the eCommerce website and give the shipping address as the address provided by the “company”. The company will be procure the goods on your behalf and ship them to Australia. In another model, the company will purchase the specific item and ship it to you; you need to pay the amount. So, this was the business model. He also said that there were many business offering this service in the USA and China. Likewise, there were several businesses in these countries that benefit from European goods. He wanted to replicate this business model in Europe and was seeking our help.
He first explained the working plan and then briefed us about our responsibilities. Then, he told us that we should provide all our details, including full name, address, and Skype ID, so that he could order the shipment to our address. We should receive the shipment and dispatch the order to his clients, according to his instructions. He also told us that he was partnering with DHL & UPS, so we need not pay the shipment charges – he will send us the coupons and we just have to print them, attach them to the shipment, and drop it off at a nearby DHL shop. He conveyed that all the charges will be borne by him and we need not pay anything.
In reply to his first mail, we asked him what the opportunities were and about the payment. The German tax rules are quite complex and we were interested in the legitimacy of the business model. He replied that the contract was for only one month and a contract extension could be discussed based on performance. The most interesting catch was that we will receive € 1050 for re-shipping the goods. In the email, he requested personal details to register with the shipping companies and start the procedure. No request for tax identification, social security number, etc. was made.
How many number of goods can I expect during the first month?
Around 30-40 items for the first month
Can we open the goods and check, because we will be shipping it to the client and we need to know, whether the goods are safe and nothing inflammable?
You shall open the goods, check the items and then only ship it to client
Do we get any insurance?
All items will be insured
Do we get a contract from the company? Because of the tax issues in Germany!
We will ecosign the contract (No mention of tax legalities)
What is the name of your company and is there any website, which we can refer to?
We are finalizing the documentation and will open the company in 3-4 weeks.
He said that, the first month is for testing with full payments and most of the items the will be processed are gifts to his future clients.
After that, we asked him a couple of more questions:
We want to know your clients! Are they individuals or company?
Will we be shipping to International clients or inside European Union?
To Russia and inside EU
In that e-mail, he had also sent us the draft version of the contract, when we spotted the reshipping scam. The contract didn’t have any details regarding taxes, social insurance, working hours, etc. The company name and legal details were missing and the contract was not even properly formatted. There was also a pointer stating that, there was no relation between the company and the employee, and the employee will act as an independent contractor. No request for our bank account details was made. Continuing on this correspondence, we did some online background research. He had a Facebook page with just two likes. When we googled for reshipping scam, there was not much information regarding this. This suggested that this was a new type of scam and very few sites provided authentic information.
How this scam works?
This is one of the latest home business scams. Once the employee shares the personal details, the fraudster will order goods to the employer’s address with the use of stolen credit cards. Then the employee will receive the goods and reship it to the client’s address. In the meantime, the banks will be alerted. You will be hung out to dry and the company will not be accessible. Furthermore, you will be held responsible for illegal dealing because of all the merchandise that you dispatched were purchased with stolen credit cards.