Scams

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The real Hustle – The Postal Service Scam

Posted by Awareness

Definition: The Postal Service Scam revolves around the delivery of an unsolicited (and worthless) package by a seemingly legitimate parcel postman. When he informs you that it’s C.O.D., and you fork over the funds – you’ve been had!

The Mark: Any home-owner or flat-dweller in any city or town.

The Scam: Normally, if someone just rings your bell and asks you for money, you’d slam the door in his face. But here’s a scam that has our poor mark willingly forking over his hard-earned cash – and saying “thank you” to the hustler.

It’s the Postal Service Scam, and it’s a beauty. This scam plays upon one’s natural respect for authority – particularly if that authority is wearing an official-looking uniform and a name tag. To begin this sting, our gang stuffs manila envelopes with worthless, used paperback books, and labels these envelopes with names and addresses gleaned from the internet. When that’s done, the goods are placed in a shoulder-strapped mail pouch – and it’s off to the van to deliver these “valuable” packages to the unsuspecting marks.

Our phony delivery man, equipped with his pouch full of worthless parcels and a clipboard, rings the bell of the addressee, busily writes on his clipboard and when the door is answered hands the package to the mark. Asking him or her to “sign here”, he casually mentions that the package requires ₤20 (or ₤30 or ₤40 or ₤50) C.O.D.

Convinced by the uniform and the formal name tag, the recipient of the worthless package obediently fetches the money, hands it over, and perhaps mumbles a quick “thank you” as he closes the door.

Off goes our scammer with the victim’s ₤20, who eventually get to wondering how he could have been so stupid. Of course, he’s wiser now, but his knowledge came at a high cost.

Things don’t always go this easily for the gang; occasionally, our phony delivery man is asked for a receipt. Well, the suspicious mark will pay a price for his caution, because he is instructed to call a phone number printed on the label, where he is told he will speak to someone who will send – or e-mail – the requested receipt. That number will turn out to be a premium rate line, which only further lines the pockets of the hustlers.

Even an unanswered door fails to deter our criminal crew. The telephone number of the mark is texted to our phony bell-ringer, who then proceeds to phone up the mark, asking him please come down to answer the door. Easy as pie – another ₤20. The trick is the realism of the uniform, the badge and the clipboard. Our hustler is always matter-of-fact, head down, busily documenting transactions, anxious to move on to his next delivery.

The Lesson Learned: It is shocking how many people fall for scam like this – and the preventive measures one can take are simple and effective. Never, repeat NEVER, hand money to anyone who unexpectedly rings your bell, unless you are a) expecting a C.O.D. package, or b) know the person standing in front of you. If you are unsure, tell the deliveryman that you will take the package, but only if you can be billed for it. As always, don’t allow yourself to be rushed or intimidated; take the time to step back and evaluate the situation, it will save you grief, aggravation – and occasionally, more than a few pounds.

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