ST. LOUIS – Nearly 20 internet domain names linked to various scams have been seized by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the FBI.
According to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Missouri, the websites utilized work-from-home and reshipping scams in order to commit identity theft, aggravated identity theft, access device fraud, and wire fraud.
Scammers would trick job searchers into receiving stolen goods or money and reshipping those items to another address controlled by the scammers.
Federal prosecutors said many of the victims thought they were accepting legitimate jobs and performing honest work. Other victims were instructed to make purchases with their personal credit cards, but they were never reimbursed.
Investigators became aware of the scams in February 2021, when a con artist used someone else’s credit card to order a virtual reality headset and had the device shipped to a home in Hazelwood.
The victim reported the matter to the U.S. Postal Service. A postal inspector learned the Hazelwood homeowner had obtained a work-from-home job as a “quality control inspector” with Local Post for International Customers LLC or LocalPost.
The scammer instructed the homeowner to photograph the package and its contents, then reship the items to another address using a shipping label provided by LocalPost. The homeowner was paid $20.
Investigators found several links suggesting the scammers were located in Russia. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received 64 complaints associated with these scammers, and the Federal Trade Commission received 56 complaints about the scammers’ domain names.
While the scammers themselves have been able to avoid arrest by being in another country, federal authorities were able to confiscate the domains themselves and have them shut down.