How online crooks use "work from home" patsies to launder goods and forward them offshore

Brian Krebs continues his excellent investigative series on the inner workings of online ripoffs, today with a deep look at underground freight-forwarders, so-called "Drops for stuff." These services use patsies recruited on Craigslist through a "work at home" scam to receive goods bought with stolen credit card numbers and forward them on to crooks.

A typical drop will receive and reship between two and four packages per day. The packages arrive with prepaid shipping labels that are paid for with stolen credit card numbers, or with hijacked online accounts at FedEx and the US Postal Service. Drops are responsible for inspecting and verifying the contents of shipments, attaching the correct shipping label to each package, and sending them off via the appropriate shipping company.

One drops operation,, allows “clients” to “rent” drops who have signed up for reshipping jobs. “Managers,” those who facilitate drop recruitment scams, can earn money by purchasing merchandise that the reshipping operation can quickly resell. Most reshipping operations seek consumer electronics that can be easily sold for cash, including laptop computers, cameras, smart phones and parts for sports cars. pays managers and clients 30 percent of the value of laptops from ACER, HP, Toshiba, Dell, Compaq and Samsung, for example, and more than 40 percent of the retail price for Apple, Sony, VAIO, Canon and Nikon products.


  1. So, knowing that these are scams, what’s to stop you from answering such an ad, waiting until they send you something you’re interested in, and just keeping it? 

    1. Something tells me that people who do that wind up getting a house call from some of the shippers, um “associates”…

      1. This seems like a perfect opportunity for a police sting operation:

        Undercover cop gets hired,  received goods are kept and traced if possible, and when goons show up to reclaim items, they are arrested.  Besides the actual people they catch that way, if that happens enough, the dropship organizers will become a lot more reluctant to publically advertise to attract  innocent dupes.

    2. So, knowing that these are scams,

      I’d bet that a bunch of them have no idea it’s a scam.  A lot of people have no real idea of how the world of “business” actually works, so this might seem like a plausibly legit way of being employed.
      Or worse, they’ve become so accustomed to meaningless, unfulfilling wage labor in other contexts that the part of their brain that’s supposed to ask “why?” when “the boss” tells them to do something has atrophied.

  2. What is to keep someone from getting a job as a drop and then keeping everything they’re sent?    Two laptops or iPads / day x  probably a week before they figure it out.  If and when law enforcement descends, you simply say you sent the stuff on like the other other drops did.

  3. Antinous, I don’t actually want the BB comment area to choke under spam, but this genre has shown up here before, and if its shows up under this story, I will be greatly amused. 

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