Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Skylane Couriers - another scam

A consumer contacted us regarding a shipment they were expecting from the USA, having bought what they believed were iPhones and Apple laptops from Best Buy (a legitimate company).

However this was nothing to do with Best Buy. This was nothing more than a scam.

The clues emerged when they received an email from the shipping company, calling itself Skylane Couriers, saying that their shipment had been stopped by the authorities in Guinea "for collection of Custom Fees, Tax Charges and Importation Licenses Fee".

This is the nature of these shipping scams. They choose a country far from the supposed shipper and far from the recipient and pretend that customs have seized the package and won't release it until a payment has been made. This ignores the fact that with any shipment, duties, taxes and fees can only be charged in the country it came from and the destination. Countries in the middle do nothing unless they have reason to stop the goods if they suspect there's something criminal happening.

The email from the fake courier company said that the customs people in Guinea had told them:
"A tax levied on imports (and, sometimes, on exports) by the customs authorities of a country to raise state revenue. Customs duty is based generally on the value of goods or upon the weight and dimensions. You are been Charged for Custom Duty, Tax & Import duty.

Import License Fee*********$425 USD
Custom duty****************$250 USD
Tax Charges****************$199 USD

You have privilege of 5 days to pay up the required fees by the  Guinea Custom facility. Failure to pay up the required fees within 5 days, demur-rage charges of $55 will counts everyday that the goods stay's at Custom warehouse in Conakry - Guinea .

It is our responsibility and authority to propose and enforce laws and regulations to ensure safe, secure, efficient and clean delivery."
Payment of course was not requested by bank transfer or debit or credit card. They wanted the money sent by Western Union.

The clues...

Western Union. Real companies don’t expect payment through WU, they would want debit or credit payments or electronic transfers.

Duties. Duties on shipments are only payable at the beginning or end of a shipment, not halfway along the route. Nothing is being “imported” into Guinea so no such payments are required.

Language. The language is not what I would expect from a company if it was genuine.

The web site. The clever part (and I’ve seen this several times before) is that they’ve constructed a well-prepared web site where you can check the shopping number they give. The shipping number they offer works and appears to show a route that is bizarre. The package apparently went from Minnesota in the USA to Illinois, then to Cuba, Barbados, Cape Verde and finally Conakry in Guinea. That’s a very interesting route. Cuba? Really?

The web site (again). Interestingly, the text on the web site is exactly the same as several other shipping companies I could find. I assume they are all fakes as well because I can find warnings about scams associated with some of those other sites. Either that or one is the genuine original and the other are all copies. The single physical address they give is in the UK and is in fact owned by another, genuine company.

More on the web site. On their web site they say that the company was “formed in the year 2004” and they suggest is based in the UK or Russia but their domain was only registered in March this year to an address in Nigeria.

Unfortunately it was too late to save this victim who had already sent money to the scammers.

Be warned!

No comments: