This scam has been going on for years now – there hardly seems to be a courier company that hasn’t been caught up in it.
It involves an unsuspecting courier being contacted by a random customer out of the blue and being sent in to a third party to collect valuable kit. A few couriers have been arrested and accused of being involved in these scams.
There are a few basic steps that can be taken to avoid becoming involved:
Every ‘Cash On Delivery’ job should start alarm bells ringing straight away. Every job involving collection of high value items from third parties for end-user companies you’ve never dealt with before should also start alarm bells ringing.
Always get a landline phone number for the company that you’re dealing with. Ring them back on it to confirm a minor delivery detail. Check the number you’ve called using Google etc and see if it corresponds to the company that you think you’re dealing with. If not then find a number for the company by other means and ring them direct and ask them if they’ve organised the job. If you can’t contact them that way then ring the company that you’re collecting from and ask them to verify with the account holder that it was them that have ordered the goods. Nobody is going to think any the worse of you for carrying out a few fundamental checks.
If you’re asked to deliver to a non-address – “meet us at the services”, “meet us at the KFC and follow us to the unit”, “we’re in units behind Smith Street, head for number 10 and give us a ring and we’ll come out”, etc, be very wary and start to think harder about the other things I’ve already mentioned. Arrive at empty unit and call the contact mobile number – “Oh, we’re working just round the corner; I’ll send the lad round with the van to pick the stuff up”. Fine if you know the people you’re working for but otherwise take care.
Most of these scams seem to involve the courier actually getting paid, which is a shock. Some of them though involve a gang of scallies piling out of a white van, threatening (or worse) the courier and grabbing the goods. Some involve the courier getting locked up for hours and they all involve somebody being left out of pocket.
Favourite goods are easily saleable, expensive consumer items, BOILERS are a favourite, expensive (Neff etc) COOKERS and FRIDGES, PLASMA TVs, POWER TOOLS, 3 PIECE SUITES, CEMENT MIXERS, MINI DIGGERS – I even had someone try it with two pallets of cosmetics they’d managed to get released from a well known cosmetics company.
Redirection seems to be the worst problem – you set off for a confirmed address “ABC Plumbers” in Manchester and you get a call an hour later asking you to deliver the goods to site in Liverpool. That sort of thing happens all the time of course and it could well be legitimate but BE AWARE.
I suspect there’s only a few people (or groups) involved in these scams – it always seems to be Liverpool, Birmingham or East London that the goods are redirected to so be extra cautious when doing one-offs to those areas. Be suspicious about everything and don’t be afraid to make third parties aware of your suspicions. If you call the police and report a potential problem you’ll spend a lot less time locked up than if you’ve already delivered the goods.