Fake cards hitting virtual offices

THE Queensland Police Service is warning small businesses and virtual office businesses not to fall victim to overseas fraudsters, following the exposure of a fraud involving stolen credit cards that has already netted $30,000 and affected one local business.

The frauds involve two victims. Firstly, off shore criminals are making expensive online purchases from businesses across Australia using stolen credit cards and arranging for their delivery to business addresses that are the hosting point for “virtual offices”.

Once the product purchase is through, the fraudster “hires” the services of a “virtual office provider” who is told to receive the delivery of the goods and then freight the goods to another destination, usually overseas.

The client will fraudulently purchase a product online (computers, mobile phones, computer games consoles, clothing) and have it forwarded to an office location.

“None of the businesses have ever sighted any of their clients and in nearly all cases packages have been requested to be sent to Ghana,” said State Crime Operations Command Fraud and Corporate Crime Group’s Detective Superintendent Brian Hay.

The virtual business will be paid for its services using skimmed international credit cards.

Police confirmed one of the four businesses visited by the Fraud and Corporate Crime Group was from the Sunshine Coast, but could not elaborate.

Detective Superintendent Hay said the virtual business environment is also a victim as their premises and services are also being paid for by stolen credit cards.

Police say the following points should raise suspicion: the “client” is overseas or purports to be interstate; the credit cards used are generally from overseas; the “client” may use multiple credit cards as several may be rejected; the goods are required to be reshipped – generally to an overseas destination.

“Upwards of 20 false credit card numbers and details have been used in the four businesses alone, many of which are linked to overseas banks,” he said.

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