Fact Check

Delivery Courier Scam

A scammer used debit card information gleaned during delivery of unordered 'gifts' to make unauthorized ATM withdrawals.

Published Nov. 26, 2008

A scammer used debit card information gleaned during delivery of unordered 'gifts' to make unauthorized ATM withdrawals.

A victim's account of a delivery courier scam above began circulating on the Internet in mid-October 2008:

Hi everyone,

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 (short for Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale) 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Between last Thursday and Monday $4,000 was withdrawn from our credit account at ATM machines in the north shore area.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.

While many of the forwards later identified the fraud as having "occurred in the North Vancouver Area" or "happened to our friend who lives in North Vancouver," in actuality the crime took place in Sydney, Australia, between 1 October and 3 October 2008.

During that brief span, the thief, posing as a delivery man bearing flowers and wine, robbed ten Sydney residents of $32,000. As described in the e-mail, he would telephone potential marks, announcing that he had a delivery for them, then shortly thereafter arrive in a white van emblazoned "Express Couriers" on its side. (Express Couriers is a non-existent company.) After presenting them with flowers and wine, he would ask for credit or debit card payments of $3.50, which he would then run through a wireless EFTPOS (Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale) machine set up to skim not only the cards' numbers, but their PINs as well. Later that day, he would proceed to drain the accounts associated with these cards at local ATMs.

The robber was apprehended a few weeks later during a traffic stop on the Sydney-Newcastle Freeway and charged with ten counts of fraud.

This account led to the spread of a warning that was oft-repeated on the Internet:

WARNING: Be wary of accepting any "surprise gift or package", which you neither expected nor personally ordered, especially if it involves any kind of payment as a condition of receiving the gift or package. Also, never accept anything if you do not personally know and/or there is no proper identification of who the sender is.

Above all, the only time you should give out any personal credit/debit card information is when you yourself initiated the purchase or transaction! NEVER SWIPE YOUR CREDIT CARD ON ANY MACHINE UNLESS THE FIRM IS KNOWN TO YOU.


ABC News.   "Man Charged Over Flower Delivery Scam."     22 November 2008.

Herald-Sun.   "Flower-Delivery Thief Fleeces $32,000."     7 November 2008.

New South Wales Police Force.   "Police Investigate Fraud Scam Across Sydney."     7 November 2008.

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