Parcel mule scam: if a stranger offers to send you stuff for free, don’t agree

Parcel mule scams could be on the rise, if a recent Reddit thread observed by Cybernews is anything to go by.

The issue first came to our attention when we noticed a post on the social media platform with the curious title “stranger spent thousands on my wife via Amazon wishlist.”

Below it, the poster, who goes by the Reddit handle “skimasksadboy” further explained the situation: “A stranger bought around 7k euro [€7,000] worth of stuff there (phones, PC, TV) and its [sic] gonna be delivered soon. Is there a way this is a scam, should we accept those things? What if he didn't pay for those things yet (credit card, delayed payment etc.).”

The answer to skimasksadboy’s question is almost certainly a resounding “yes.”

As the AI-driven auto-moderator subsequently explained on the Reddit thread: “The parcel mule scam involves fraudsters sending you packages and you shipping them out to other people. The items are fraudulently obtained, usually with stolen credit cards, and the investigation into the fraud will lead to you rather than to the scammer.”

Sure enough, upon being queried further by other Reddit users, skimasksadboy admitted that his wife had in fact been asked by “some stranger from Facebook” to compile said items on the Amazon wishlist, a function commonly used by online shoppers who want to browse first and perhaps buy later.

Naturally, other posters were quick to advance their own theories as to what was behind the bizarre and ostensibly generous offer.

“So your wife was asked by ‘some stranger from Facebook’ to make a public wishlist and now she’s receiving all of these free gifts?! Sounds like you’ve got bigger problems buddy,” said “LegalBeagleBagel.”

And “evolution4thewin” was even more candid: “sounds like your wife has a stolen credit card and this BS story is just a cover. Just sayin [sic].”

“What did she think the purpose was for her creating the wish list?” was the rhetorical question from “moralprolapse,” in apparent bafflement at just how gullible and naive some folks can be.

Whatever the truth behind this specific incident is, two things appear beyond a doubt: scammers will never cease to come up with new and innovative ways to con you out of your money, and people will never cease to be amusing.