FBI raids Meridian home; man accused of ‘shipping for the Russian Mafia’

By Robb Hicken/ BBB’s chief storyteller

A Meridian man’s life has been upside down for a quite awhile. Unemployed, working odd jobs, and trying to take care of his ailing wife, he thought he’d found a great opportunity to be close to home and earn extra money.

“The company said all I was required to do was repackage and ship the materials they were sending to my address,” the 50-something man says, asking that his identity be kept anonymous. “The money was good, and I would only receive items when I was ready to take them in.”

That was two weeks ago.

Since then, his home was raided by the FBI, U.S. Postal Inspectors and countless other law enforcement officials who wanted to charge him with conspiracy, possession of stolen property, and assorted other minor charges.

“They said I was working for the ‘Russian Mafia,'” he says. “I was scared to death.”

Better Business Bureau reports every year on job seekers who are lured into what is known as a “reshipping scam” or “forwarding scam.”  This scam usually involves foreign criminals that buy merchandise with stolen or counterfeit credit card and then hire U.S. citizens to ship it overseas.

The man said he posted his résumé on www.monster.com and was contacted by the company offering employment as a shipping agent. He says he would receive the correspondence and packages at his home address; photograph/scan the received packages and documents; repack the goods; and print the customs documents and prepaid shipping labels. He would then send the documents to a third address in California for reimbursement and payment.

The salary was $500/month, in addition to $30 for every processed letter and $50 for every processed box. The package he shipped went to an address in Russia.

“I was told not open the box,  just forward it according to their instructions,” he says. “That was easy because I’m former military.”

He began receiving up to seven packages per day before the FBI stepped in to tell  him that he was shipping the merchandise to the scammers.

The BBB offers the following tips on this and other employment scams:

  • Avoid job listings that use descriptions like: “package forwarding,” “reshipping,” “money transfers,” “wiring funds” and “foreign agent agreements.”
  • Do not be fooled by official-sounding corporate names. Some scam artists work under names that sound like those of long-standing, reputable firms. In some cases the scam artists will use a company’s information that has recently gone out of business.
  • Never forward or transfer money from any of your personal accounts for your employer. Also, be suspicious if you are asked to “wire” money to an employer. If a legitimate job requires you to make money transfers, the money should be withdrawn from the employer’s business account, not yours.
  • Do not give out your personal financial information. A potential legitimate employer will not ask your bank account, credit card or PayPal account number. Only give your banking information if you are hired by a legitimate company and you choose to have your paycheck direct deposited.
  • Do not fax copies of your ID or Social Security number to someone you have never met. Credit checks and fake IDs can be obtained with this information. Only give these documents to your employer when you are physically at the place of employment.

If you are offered or are involved in a foreign employment scam, call the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center: www.ic3.gov.

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2 Comments

Filed under News You Can Trust

2 responses to “FBI raids Meridian home; man accused of ‘shipping for the Russian Mafia’

  1. Mark Burrows

    Again, logic must always prevail. Understand there is a huge difference between just being suspicious and following common logic. In the shipping industry there are legitimate shippers and receivers starting with postal services and then moving on to the well know characters such as Federal Express, United Parcel Service, and so on. We also should have a general idea what the rates are like. So, when we ship something we debate in our minds on the costs of how much we want to pay in regards to how fast, safe, and secure the package gets there. Logic does not apply if someone is paying you good money to repackage parcels and ship them under your name and address. You have to know in the back of your mind that this is wrong. The big clue here is being told not to open the box. That should have sent off all sorts of mental alarms and red flags. The contents could be any thing from drugs, stolen documents, explosive materials, and in this case black market items. If the man was former military, then he must have been in the kitchen peeling potatoes his entire time because he sure was not trained to use military logic.
    Anyone who has served should know that the often used movie line, “Just follow orders, and don’t ask any questions.” was propaganda to split the line between the leaders and the followers. Any good officer would always take questions from his soldiers. Of course he would rip a soldier a new one for asking a stupid question, which they should have never done, but that is the military way of discipline. Then there were bad officers that would take good questions and advance his own career with them.
    The point is, logic is not that difficult, it is a matter of looking at any situation with rational thought and then taking a little time to check things out before making a decision rather than after when disaster has struck.

  2. Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted
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