Weird News

How eBay scammers turned Nespresso lovers into money mules

Nina Kollars just wanted a cheaper cup of coffee. Stumbling across an online credit card fraud ring was simply an added bonus. 

As she explained to a crowd at the annual DEF CON hacking conference in Las Vegas, the associate professor at the Naval War College didn’t set out to become an unwitting money mule accidentally helping to defraud senior citizens, but hey, not everything goes the way you think it will. 

Kollars, a fan of Nespresso coffee pods, had found what seemed to be an amazing deal on eBay: 200 of the pods listed at half price. So she placed her order, and, soon after paying via PayPal, her order arrived — along with a brand-new $280 Nespresso espresso maker that she hadn’t ordered or paid for.

Telling tales of Nespresso fraud.

Telling tales of Nespresso fraud.

Image: Jack Morse / mashable

Looking at other eBay listings for Nespresso pods, she realized there were tons of new seller accounts with zero reviews all offering Nespresso pods for super cheap. Something was off. 

“I’m still guessing this is fraud, but I don’t really know,” she said of her thinking at the time. “If this is some sort of criminal underground gang […] this should be happening at scale in some way.”

After contacting Nespresso and offering to return the machine (they didn’t want it back), she set out to determine what, exactly, was going on. Although, as she explained, she already had a pretty good idea. 

The scam goes like this: fraudsters acquire someone’s stolen personally identifiable information and opens a credit card account. They then create an eBay account and list a luxury good for super cheap. Once the good is ordered by an unsuspecting customer, the criminals in question place the order — with the fraudulently obtained card — from the legit site and has it shipped on its way. 

The fraudsters have just successfully turned a stolen credit card into cash, all with the help of an unknowing eBay shopper. 

But why the free espresso machine? Perhaps the criminals are trying to buy loyalty from customers, Kollars guessed, or maybe they were simply sloppy in keeping track of which money mule ordered what. 

Either way, she set out to try it again. 

After identifying other eBay accounts Kollars believed were linked to the original seller in question, she placed more orders for discounted pods. She received them, plus hundreds of extras along with a milk frother.  

In total, she received around $939 worth of Nespresso goods for the low price of $391.90. 

This is a photo of a slide from Kollars' talk showing her acquired loot.

This is a photo of a slide from Kollars’ talk showing her acquired loot.

Image: jack morse / mashable

But that’s not all she got. Kollars also managed to get in touch with a person behind one of the eBay accounts after an order was canceled. 

“I always want the everything best for you,” the person wrote. “My mom has sick on hospital now so I can find any other item in best condition to ship to you and I have to go to the hospital with her now so I hope that you understand for me and let me cancel oder.”

Kollars marveled at how polite this person was. “I really hope that his mom is ok.”

Importantly, however, this was not a victimless crime. Kollars investigated and found that the people actually being charged for this goods were at or past retirement age. In other words, it was possible that elderly individuals were intentionally being targeted. 

She contacted the FBI and eBay and reported her findings. While she didn’t hear back, this specific type of Nespresso fraud disappeared from the site roughly 30 days after she reported it. You can still find great deals on luxury goods on eBay, however, suggesting this type of scheme is ongoing. 

So maybe next time think twice before hitting “purchase” on that great eBay deal from a brand-new seller with no reviews. It may be cheap, but you also might be acting an unwilling money mule in the weird world of online fraud. 

Uploads%252fvideo uploaders%252fdistribution thumb%252fimage%252f85470%252fa5d2abe8 2500 49f1 b018 2be409f7c7cc.jpg%252foriginal.jpg?signature=pscxiudemc mp8rvtjgtlbyublu=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws

Previous ArticleNext Article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

13 + 14 =

Send this to a friend