DETROIT (WITI) — They promise big dollars for very little work, but what appears to be an attractive business opportunity is a costly scam. Express Mail packages are at the heart of the scam and the key to unraveling the costly crime.
"We were getting reports that there were large stacks of Express Mail envelopes being dropped in large handfuls in collection boxes," said U.S. Postal Inspector Karl Hansen.
Postal inspectors began tracking the suspicious packages and discovered several problems.
"The postage turned out to be one of our online products known as 'click and ship.' As we dug deeper into it, we found the 'click and ship' postage was purchased using compromised credit cards," Hansen explained.
Inside the packages were letters trying to recruit people into a "secret shopper" work-from-home opportunity. The packages contained a money order or check along with instructions. Recipients were encouraged to deposit the check, buy an item, fill out a survey and send the remaining money back.
"It would usually take them a few days to figure out it was a counterfeit instrument and they would issue a charge back," Hansen said.
Victims would be responsible for the counterfeit check or money order and all money lost.
Through post office surveillance and tracking mail patterns — postal inspectors got a break.
"We were able to track it down to one person, in particular, who was tied to both the mailings and some incoming packages coming from other countries," Hansen said.
Here's some advice: while offers to earn extra money might seem attractive — use common sense.
"Think to yourself: if you were running a business, would you be able to afford to pay someone huge amounts of money, you know, $2,000 a day or whatever it is to stuff envelopes?" Hansen said.
If anyone is promising big bucks for doing practically nothing, it's most likely a scam.