Local man warns of online purchasing scam using valid USPS tracking numbers
RIGBY – A simple online purchase for a Rigby man ended up scamming him out of his money and now he wants you to know about it so you can avoid a similar fate.
Reed Hoskinson of Rigby is a retired engineer from the Idaho National Laboratory. Like many in eastern Idaho, he enjoys gardening and growing potted plants. On March 25, he purchased a seed germination tray for $43.11 from a website called Condoclears.com.
After ordering the item, he paid for it through Paypal. About a week went by and his item still hadn’t arrived.
“I contacted (the seller’s) email address (numerous times) and never got a response. So I filed a resolution claim in Paypal. They reached out to (the seller), who responded with a USPS tracking number,” Hoskinson tells EastIdahoNews.com.
The tracking number indicated the item had been delivered, despite Hoskinson’s claim to the contrary. After speaking with a man at the Post Office, he learned the tracking number was linked to another package delivered about the same timeframe in the Rigby area.
“What it actually turned out to be was a license plate sent from Boise to some people on 3700 East,” says Hoskinson.
Hoskinson said the most surprising and confusing part of the ordeal was this wasn’t a randomly generated tracking number, nor was it a code from an older, already delivered package in another state. It was a valid tracking number, it was shipped during the same period, and the package was specifically sent to eastern Idaho.
“How did they do that?” Hoskinson asks.
With no response from the seller or Paypal and no idea how the seller was able to provide a legitimate tracking number, it seemed Hoskinson had no other option than to throw his hands in the air and move on.
Being a retired person, Hoskinson had the time “to make B.S. like this one of his hobbies” and decided to look into it further.
During another search for the website, he discovered Google had flagged it as fraudulent.
“This website … used to be www.SallyGistc.com up until 3/16/21 when it was deleted,” according to Google’s analysis of the website. “The seller on this site is a scammer and fraudster and does not ship their products to the correct locations. They also will not respond to any email requests or contact.”
Hoskinson revealed this information to Paypal and requested a refund. Last week, after more than a month of correspondence, he finally got his money back. He’s determined to think twice if he comes across a similar website in the future.
After all that, Hoskinson would still like to know how tracking numbers are assigned to packages and how the alleged scammer was able to trace his purchase to a legitimate tracking number.
Floyd Wagoner, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service in the Pacific Northwest, says tracking numbers are generated automatically at the time of purchase. Contractual partners with the postal service, like Office Max and Staples, are able to generate packing and shipping labels for customers. It’s hard to say how this particular company was able to provide a tracking number without knowing its affiliation with the postal service.
“I cannot speak to why the company this gentleman is working with, which is independent of the postal service, may have given him a wrong tracking number,” Wagoner says. “There are some phishing and smishing texts and emails that are finding their way around. We’re currently dealing with this and it’s not a postal issue. There are scam companies out there that have appropriated our brand and maybe some of our messaging and they’re reaching out to people with false information.”
Wagoner says the Postal Inspection Service takes mail fraud seriously and cases like this should be reported here. You can also call 1-877-876-2455. General tips to protect yourself and others against mail fraud can be found here.
In the last several months, a similar scam appearing to be from EastIdahoNews.com has popped up on social media. On April 16, a Facebook post from the handle “East Idaho-News” asked users to enter their credit card information to enter a fake contest.
“It is absolutely a scammer attempting to steal your information and/or money,” we reported on Facebook. “We would NEVER ask for a credit card number for you to participate in any giveaway. If you have already submitted a card number on the fake website, please contact your bank, credit card company or law enforcement.”
This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. A similar post was made a week earlier. The post also appeared in February and December.
If you see similar posts in the future, do not respond. It is a scam.