Want a beautiful basket of free flowers and wine? Pull out your credit card and pay a small service fee of $3.50, and we'll deliver them to your door. Sound too good to be true? Good for you--that was a test, and you passed. Unfortunately, not everyone is catching on so quickly. This is the exact setup of the flower and wine delivery credit card scam that is costing victims in California thousands.
Targets of this scam get the wine and flowers under the guise of a surprise gift, but it sets them back way more than $3.50--as in, thousands of dollars more. When recipients hand over their card details to the small mobile card machine from these express couriers, they are handing over their information to thieves. Before they realize what's happened, prey are slammed with hefty fraudulent credit card charges.
Police in Sacramento, California are warning residents about this delivery scam following an alert from Placer Protect, an elder abuse task force. According to investigators, an elderly Sacramento local was fleeced for $4,000.
How the Scam Works
Here's how the wine and flowers scam goes down.
Red Flag #1: You receive a phone call from someone claiming to work for a delivery company bearing gifts. They have a delivery of wine and flowers for you. The surprise gift comes with a delivery fee, but it's a temptingly cheap $3.50.
This is the first warning sign. Payment on delivery is not a typical practice. For obvious reasons, most companies demand payment up front before making a delivery.
Red Flag #2: The delivery man explains the fee is for proof of receipt and insists on payment by debit or credit card upon delivery, supposedly as proof of age for the alcohol to verify the legal drinking age.
This is another red flag. Credit and debit cards are not proof of age, and no credit card machine can connect that information. If the law had changed recently, thousands of college freshman with terrible fake IDs would surely be thrilled to find out that all they need is a bank account to drink.
Red Flag #3: The final red flag is when the delivery man asks for the pin number of your personal credit/debit card so he can process it himself. Banks warn customers never to do this under any circumstances, and for good reason.
Cashiers working at a legitimate business would never ask for a customer's pin number so they could enter it themselves. Neither would a legitimate delivery person, which proves you are dealing in illegal transactions. Credit card information and credit card details are not part of the typical delivery protocol.
How to Spot Delivery Scams
While the alert is currently limited to California, it pays to be on the lookout for this and other scams. Never give out your credit/debit account information, even when the person in question has proper identification. Be cautious of using mobile credit card machines.
Sacramento police and Placer Protect are urging people to exercise caution when signing for an unexpected package. Always confirm the sender's identity before accepting a package. Never agree to pay a delivery man upon receipt, especially if you don't know the sender. Share this with those who could be likely targets of this and other new scams, like the elderly community.