LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) – Credit card thieves are taking a new approach to moving their stolen goods, authorities say. The thieves are hiring innocent, unsuspecting middlemen to send out the stolen items in order to shield themselves from police.
Eriena Munsun of Alhambra sells products online through eBay and Amazon. Over a year ago, she took a part-time job through Craigslist as a professional gift wrapper.
“What I did, I just received the package, gift wrapped it, then shipped it for them,” Munsun told KCAL9 Tuesday.
She got paid a small fee for each package. Munsun had no idea that the items being sent to her were being bought with stolen credit card numbers.
“It’s a fraud,” Munsun said.
The scam came to light when fraud victim Ted Twardak realized someone had charged his credit card almost $600 for three textbooks. He called the text book company, which informed him that the books had been sent to Eriena’s Alhambra house. Alhambra police believe the thieves were using Eriena as a middle person.
“A cushion if you will, somebody to hide the illegal activity that’s going on by recruiting an innocent woman like this,” Alhambra police Sgt. Jerry Johnson said.
Investigators are trying to track down the fraudulent company, which may have used legitimate company names on its website. Investigators believe there were easily hundreds of packages that Eriena alone unknowingly wrapped and sent to the crooks.
“Books, computer equipment, pet supplies, everything you can imagine,” Johnson said. “Most of them were going to packaging warehouses, most in the SoCal area, some out in Moreno Valley, and then somebody would go to this company and pick up the packages.”
As police work to identify the suspects, they want others to avoid becoming a victim.
“This is a way for me to help other people to not get trapped into a shady business like me,” Munsun said.
“Here at least, by coming to you with this, maybe this will help somebody else down the road,” Twardak said.