Purchase Order Scam Leaves a Trail of Victims

by FBI Staff

What began as a scheme to defraud office supply stores has evolved into more ambitious crimes that have cost retailers around the country millions of dollars—and the Nigerian cyber criminals behind the fraud have also turned at-home Internet users into unsuspecting accomplices.

FBI investigators are calling it purchase order fraud, and the perpetrators are extremely skillful. Through online and telephone social engineering techniques, the fraudsters trick retailers into believing they are from legitimate businesses and academic institutions and want to order merchandise. The retailers believe they are filling requests for established customers, but the goods end up being shipped elsewhere—often to the unsuspecting at-home Internet users, who are then duped into re-shipping the merchandise to Nigeria.

“They order large quantities of items such as laptops and hard drives,” said Special Agent Joanne Altenburg, who has been investigating the cyber criminals since 2012 out of our Washington Field Office. “They have also ordered expensive and very specialized equipment…Read the entire story.

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