THE CASH-ON-DELIVERY SCAMS

Posted on Posted in Investigations
October 13th, 2016
By Private Detective Fernando Alvarez
DIARIO LAS AMERICAS
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Scams are a very old type of crime that does adapt itself to each age with the same purpose: to take advantage of the trust of good people. Until two decades ago the scams by postal mail were very frequent but in our Internet age these crimes have tripled due to the facility offered by the internet, however the postal mail scam has not been extinguished yet and apparently will continue to do damage to unsuspecting buyers. The following case is very recent.
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The call came from a desperate woman with the following case: “I am a working woman, single and with two children to maintain, for several years I have been working as a saleswoman in a department store and I have done well, I like sales and I am very good at selling products. A few weeks ago I saw an advertisement on television about a company that offered franchises selling perfumes and beauty products, I was very interested in the brands, the marketing strategy and the initial investment cost was just $3,000.I called the phone on the screen immediately and they explained to me about the products they included in the package plus an electronic tablet to record the sales and see the growth of this small but exciting business. Interestingly enough, I did not have to pay anything In advance, everything worked on cash-on-delivery (COD), they would send me the package by private carrier and I should give the postman a money order in the amount of $3,000 to receive the package. This company indicated that the money order should be purchased in the United States Postal Office only, as they did not accept money orders from other institutions. I found it very safe and proceeded to order my investment package. My calculations were for a 50% profit once I sold those products. A few days later the private mail truck arrived, I gave the $3,000 money order and they gave me the box.
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I was very happy when I started to open the box to start organizing my sales and to my surprise, the products included were not from the promised brands but from brands of very poor quality, did not contain the quantity of products promised and did not include the tablet. The value of the products in the box did not exceed $100. I immediately called the company to ask for an explanation but when I introduced myself they hung up the phone and did not take any of my calls and finally disconnected the phone few days later. When I realized the scam I filed a complaint with the police and then with the copy of the complaint I filed another complaint at the postal office to stop the money order of $3,000 but I was informed that according to their policies they can only stop the payment until after 60 days of purchase. I explained to them that it would be too late because by that time the fraudsters would have taken the money, but the reply of the Postal Office remained negative. I then showed up at the private carrier office to file a complaint and request that they stop the delivery of the money order but they told me that legally who paid for the mail services was the sender and therefore they have to make the delivery and were unable to stop it, that they could only carry out an investigation until much later. I cannot believe that the system will not allow me to recover my money. I cannot believe that the system protects these criminals more than honest people. Do you think we can locate these criminals?
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“We have to try,” I replied. The system is designed for an ideal world and so it works but as it is known, criminals use the benefits of the system for their own benefit and to harm third parties and the system is very slow to detect these type of crimes and re-adjust to avoid them. It is sad but that is the reality and I do not think it will change much, because criminals will always look for a way to be one step ahead of justice. At the same time, I congratulated her for having proceeded to file the complaints with the police, postal office and the private carrier. Many people do not do it out of shame without realizing that is precisely what the criminals want.
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We began the investigation with the few data the client had, a couple of phone numbers, the TV ad information, the sender’s address and other data she had collected while making the complaints. The supposed office phones were actually pre-paid cell phones that were not registered, television ads as we could confirm were paid in cash and the name registered was more common than the stones. The address of the sender was located in a warehouse within a junky area of a city located at the other side of the country. This store was not associated with the company that had ripped off my client, and maybe many more people. With the information of the private mail we were able to determine the date on which they should deliver the money order in that warehouse and we established surveillance from very early in the morning. The private carrier truck arrived at about 11.30am, but the warehouse remained empty, the postman approached the door and rang a doorbell that had a video camera and an intercom, after exchanging a few words with the other party the postman left the mail in an external mailbox. After the postman left, Enrique [name has been changed] arrived walking to the warehouse and picked up the correspondence, from there he walked a few minutes and entered an apartment building, a building that look like the ones used on horror movies. Hours later Enrique left the building, boarded a vehicle parked in the street and left. Minutes later he arrived to a post office and cashed several money orders without any problem. The following hours of surveillance provided a lot of interesting data. Enrique was a convicted felon who had already purged some years of jail, but he was not the head of this business but only the person who collected the money in exchange for a percentage. My client was satisfied with the information obtained but although I suggested that we continue with the investigation she preferred to hand over the evidence we had obtained to the authorities and demand them to continue with the investigation. Police arrested Enrique a few weeks later.
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For your own safety, do not rely on every offer you see on the advertisements on the television, radio, magazines or the internet. Verify them before paying. Remember that hundreds of scams happen every day.
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Beware of fraud, but if you need help, call us at 866-224-1245.