She wanted to work from home. And she wanted to make good money.
So, when Susie spotted the post on Craigslist for a “Shipping and Receiving Manager” making $2,000 a month, she jumped at the chance.
"I thought I had this great job,” she said. “As it turns out, I had nothing.”
Susie, whose last name we are withholding, became entangled in an elaborate international scam that is targeting innocent credit card holders, legitimate businesses, the U.S. Postal Service, and unwitting job seekers like Susie.
"I fell for it," she said.
Simply put, Susie was a mule.
As “Shipping and Receiving Manager,” she would receive parcels at her home via UPS or FedEx, then repackage them and mail them overseas – with postage paid by her employer.
On 23 occasions, Susie dutifully shipped boxes of electronics, shoes, and even Legos, to various addresses in Russia.
“Every one of them went to Russia,” she said.
Susie says the woman who ‘hired’ her, Amy Davis, explained that the job helped eager international buyers get goods from U.S. retailers that refused to ship overseas. Someone like Susie merely completes the transaction.
But the reality is criminal.
Susie likely broke federal law on each of her 23 trips to the tiny Sebring post office. Sheriff’s deputies warned her that she was likely trafficking in stolen goods that were bought with stolen credit card numbers.
"I don't know of a time when it wasn't stolen merchandise," said Postal Inspector Alexia Papageorge.
We reached out to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to trace the source of the pre-paid shipping labels Susie attached to the boxes she mailed. Papageorge explained that the labels were a fraud too -- likely bought with either a compromised Postal Service account or with a stolen credit card.
Papageorge said Postal Inspectors have seized suspect 11,000 shipments in similar scams. However, she said this convoluted, multi-continent con is particularly difficult to unravel.
"It’s orchestrated, for sure," Papageorge said. "It's hard to pin them down and find out who these people are."
Scammers corrupt people like Susie by leading them to believe they are working for a bona fide business. In Susie’s case, the scammers ripped off the name and logo of MyUS, a legitimate package-forwarding firm based in Sarasota.
Both Susie’s job application and her employment contract prominently featured the MyUS logo. And the woman who said her name was Amy Davis claimed to work for MyUS, Susie said.
"I thought it was completely legitimate,” she said. “Everything looked real."
MyUS said it never hired Susie, no one named Amy Davis has ever worked there, and it never gave anyone permission to use its name and logo. MyUS also said it never takes applications via Craigslist. A ?warning is now posted on the MyUS website?.
We tried to track down Amy Davis, but got nowhere. Her phone number includes a Wisconsin area code. But her voicemail preamble sounds British.
She never responded to our calls. And we don't ever expect her to.
Susie figured out she had been scammed when she started questions about her pay. It was short and arrived in a suspicious manner: via Western Union.
She beats herself up about being so naïve.
"How stupid could I be," she asked.
Yet, she said she has confided in us to warn other about the seedy scam cloaked in an alluring help wanted ad.
"Be careful,” she said. “Don't be so trusting like me."
WTTG FOX 5 & myfoxdc
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