Summary: Email warning describes an incident in which a scammer, posing as a courier delivering an unexpected gift of wine and roses, stole the gift recipient's credit card details with the use of a portable card scanning device (Full commentary below).
Status: True - A scammer used this scheme in Sydney, Australia during November 2008
Example:(Submitted, November 2008)
Subject: Credit card fraud wine and flowers delivery
I want to let you all know that Frank and I have been the victims of credit card fraud this week and felt I should warn you all about the clever scam. It works like this:
Last Wednesday I had a phone call late morning from Express Couriers to ask if I was going to be home as he had a delivery for me. He said he would there in roughly an hour. He turned up with a beautiful basket of flowers and wine. I expressed my surprise as I wasn't expecting anything like this and said I was intrigued to know who was sending me such a lovely gift. He said he was only delivering the gift and the card was being sent separately (the card has never arrived). There was a consignment note with the gift.
He went on to explain that because the gift contained alcohol he has to charge the recipient $3.50 as proof that he has actually delivered to an adult, and not left it on a door step if the recipient is out, to be stolen or taken by children. This seemed logical and I offered to get the cash. He then said that the company required the payment to be by Eftpos so he's not handling cash and everything is properly accounted for. Frank was there and got his credit card and "John" swiped the card on this small mobile machine that also had a small screen upon which Frank entered in his pin number. A receipt was printed out and given to us.
Between last Thursday and Monday $4,000 was withdrawn from our credit account at ATM machines in the north shore area. It appears a dummy credit card was made using the details in the machine and of course, they had Frank's pin number.
The Bank has stopped our cards and I've been to the Police this morning, where they confirmed that it is a definite scam and many households were hit during the first 3 days of October.
So PLEASE be wary of accepting a gift you're not expecting especially if the card is not with it. We've all received gifts like this and would never dream that it could be such a despicable act. Please also let other female friends and relatives know. Hopefully, these fraudsters have ceased this activity by now but you never know. I wanted to warn all my friends.
P.S. I don't think I'll ever drink the wine - I'd probably choke on it!
This email relates an incident in which a couple had $4000 stolen from their credit card account after a fraudster posing as a delivery driver tricked them into swiping their credit card on a portable card skimming device. According to the message, the scammer pretended to be a courier delivering an unexpected gift of wine and flowers. The scammer claimed that, because the gift included alcohol, the company required a small fee to be paid to prove that the gift had been delivered to an adult. He insisted that the fee be paid via card rather than cash and presented what seemed to be a legitimate mobile EFTPOS machine. However, the machine was in fact a skimming device that recorded the victim's credit card details.
The information in the warning message is true. A spate of such crimes occurred in several suburbs in Sydney's north-west in late 2008. A November 7 New South Wales Police Media Release notes:
Police in Sydney’s north-west have released an image of a man they believe can assist with inquiries into a fraudulent delivery scam which leaves people robbed of their savings.
A number of people across the Eastwood, Gladesville and Kuring-gai Local Area Commands have told police they believe they are the victim of a manipulative scam which has left their bank accounts wiped clean.
In all instances, police have been told a man has knocked at the door of residential homes dressed as a courier with a bunch of flowers and bottles of wine. The man has then delivered a parcel requiring a signature to confirm the goods have been received.
The man is alleged to have told recipients of the parcel that a delivery fee of $3.50 is required and must be done via EFTPOS. In all instances, those involved have swiped their credit card into a hand-held machine and been given a receipt for their payment.
Since the media release was published, a man has been apprehended and charged in relation to the incidents. A November 23 article in the Sydney Morning Herald notes:
A MAN charged with stealing more than $30,000 by posing as a delivery man bearing wine and flowers was refused bail in court yesterday.
David John Hennessey, 50, was stopped by police on the F3 freeway at Wahroonga, in northern Sydney, on Friday. He was arrested after a police search of his car allegedly found a number of card skimming devices.
Police allege that Hennessey had defrauded 10 residents of the Eastwood-Gladesville and Ku-ring-gai areas of $32,000 by posing as a delivery man bearing wine and flowers.
Residents should certainly remain vigilant with regard to such scams. Similar schemes have been used by criminals in the past. Portable card reader equipment is now regularly used by many businesses and is becoming commonplace. Criminals are likely to continue to exploit the popularity of such machines by using card skimming devices that look the same as genuine card readers.
It should be noted however, that the particular incident described in this email occurred in Sydney, Australia and the culprit has now been apprehended. Some versions of the warning message that are circulating falsely claim that the incident took place in other locations, including the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, North Vancouver, Canada and at least one Asian city.
While they may be perfectly valid when first launched, a problem with such warning emails is that they may continue to circulate for years and eventually become outdated and redundant. And, as noted, false or misleading information may be added to the messages as they circulate and such additions can significantly erode their use as warnings. Before forwarding such warning messages, it is always wise to check that the information they contain is accurate and up-to-date.