Flower And Wine Delivery Credit Card Scam Warning

Email warning describes an incident in which a scammer, posing as a courier delivering an unexpected gift of wine and roses, stole the gift recipient’s credit card details with the use of a portable card scanning device.

Brief Analysis:
The core information in the message is true. A scammer used this scheme in Sydney, Australia during November 2008 and was subsequently apprehended and charged. Similar schemes have been used by criminals in various locations around the world. However, it should be noted that the 2012 version of the warning that is currently circulating is directly derived from the original 2008 version. There are currently no police or media reports that suggest that the very same scam is again occurring in Sydney in 2012.


Subject: SYDNEY Scam- this could happen anywhere in Aust too- please warn others

There is a new and clever credit card scam – be wary of those who come bearing gifts. Please circulate this to everyone you know, especially your family and friends.

It just happened to friends a week or so ago in Singapore , and it can pretty well now be happening anywhere else in the world.

It works like this: Wednesday a week ago, I had a phone call from someone who said that he was from some outfit called “Express Couriers” asking if I was going to be Home because there was a package for me, and the caller said that the delivery would arrive at my home in roughly an hour. And sure enough, about an hour later, a Delivery man turned up with a beautiful Basket of flowers and wine. I was very surprised since it did not involve any special occasion or holiday, and I certainly didn’t Expect anything like it.

Intrigued about who would send me such a gift, I inquired as to who the sender is. The deliveryman’s reply was, he was only delivering the gift package, But allegedly a card was being sent separately; (the card has never arrived!). There was also a consignment note with the gift.

He then went on to explain that because the gift contained alcohol, there was a $3.50 “delivery charge” as proof that he had actually delivered the package to an adult, And not just left it on the doorstep to just be stolen or taken by anyone.

This sounded logical and I offered to pay him cash.

He then said that the company required the payment to be by credit or debit card only so that everything is properly accounted for.

My husband, who, by this time, was standing beside me, pulled out of his wallet his credit/debit card, and ‘John’, the “delivery man”, Asked my husband to swipe the card on the small mobile card machine which had a small screen and keypad where Frank was also asked to enter The card’s PIN and security number. A receipt was printed out and given to us.

To our surprise, between Thursday and the following Monday, $4,000 had been charged/withdrawn from our credit/debit account at various ATM machines, Particularly in the north shore area!

It appears that somehow the “mobile credit card machine” which the deliveryman carried was able to duplicate and create a “dummy” card(?) with all our card details, After my husband swiped our card and entered the requested PIN and security number.

Upon finding out the illegal transactions on our card, of course, we immediately notified the bank which issued us the card, and our credit/debit account had been closed.

We also personally went to the Police, where it was confirmed that it is definitely a scam because several households have been similarly hit.

WARNING: Be wary of accepting any “surprise gift or package”, which you neither expected nor personally ordered, especially if it involves any kind of payment as a Condition of receiving the gift or package. Also, never accept anything if you do not personally know and/or there is no proper identification of who the sender is.

Above all, the only time you should give out any personal credit/debit card information is when you yourself initiated the purchase or transaction!

(Submitted, November 2008)

Subject: Credit card fraud wine and flowers delivery

Hi everyone,

I want to let you all know that Frank and I have been the victims of credit card fraud this week and felt I should warn you all about the clever scam. It works like this:

Last Wednesday I had a phone call late morning from Express Couriers to ask if I was going to be home as he had a delivery for me. He said he would there in roughly an hour. He turned up with a beautiful basket of flowers and wine. I expressed my surprise as I wasn’t expecting anything like this and said I was intrigued to know who was sending me such a lovely gift. He said he was only delivering the gift and the card was being sent separately (the card has never arrived). There was a consignment note with the gift.

He went on to explain that because the gift contained alcohol he has to charge the recipient $3.50 as proof that he has actually delivered to an adult, and not left it on a door step if the recipient is out, to be stolen or taken by children. This seemed logical and I offered to get the cash. He then said that the company required the payment to be by Eftpos so he’s not handling cash and everything is properly accounted for. Frank was there and got his credit card and “John” swiped the card on this small mobile machine that also had a small screen upon which Frank entered in his pin number. A receipt was printed out and given to us.

Between last Thursday and Monday $4,000 was withdrawn from our credit account at ATM machines in the north shore area. It appears a dummy credit card was made using the details in the machine and of course, they had Frank’s pin number.

The Bank has stopped our cards and I’ve been to the Police this morning, where they confirmed that it is a definite scam and many households were hit during the first 3 days of October.

So PLEASE be wary of accepting a gift you’re not expecting especially if the card is not with it. We’ve all received gifts like this and would never dream that it could be such a despicable act. Please also let other female friends and relatives know. Hopefully, these fraudsters have ceased this activity by now but you never know. I wanted to warn all my friends.

P.S. I don’t think I’ll ever drink the wine – I’d probably choke on it!

Detailed Analysis:
This email relates an incident in which a couple had $4000 stolen from their credit card account after a fraudster posing as a delivery driver tricked them into swiping their credit card on a portable card skimming device. According to the message, the scammer pretended to be a courier delivering an unexpected gift of wine and flowers. The scammer claimed that, because the gift included alcohol, the company required a small fee to be paid to prove that the gift had been delivered to an adult. He insisted that the fee be paid via card rather than cash and presented what seemed to be a legitimate mobile EFTPOS machine. However, the machine was in fact a skimming device that recorded the victim’s credit card details.

The information in the warning message is true. A spate of such crimes occurred in several suburbs in Sydney’s north-west in late 2008. A November 7 New South Wales Police Media Release noted:

Police in Sydney’s north-west have released an image of a man they believe can assist with inquiries into a fraudulent delivery scam which leaves people robbed of their savings.

A number of people across the Eastwood, Gladesville and Kuring-gai Local Area Commands have told police they believe they are the victim of a manipulative scam which has left their bank accounts wiped clean.

In all instances, police have been told a man has knocked at the door of residential homes dressed as a courier with a bunch of flowers and bottles of wine. The man has then delivered a parcel requiring a signature to confirm the goods have been received.

The man is alleged to have told recipients of the parcel that a delivery fee of $3.50 is required and must be done via EFTPOS. In all instances, those involved have swiped their credit card into a hand-held machine and been given a receipt for their payment.

Since the media release was published, a man has been apprehended and charged in relation to the incidents. A November 23 article in the Sydney Morning Herald notes:

A MAN charged with stealing more than $30,000 by posing as a delivery man bearing wine and flowers was refused bail in court yesterday.

David John Hennessey, 50, was stopped by police on the F3 freeway at Wahroonga, in northern Sydney, on Friday. He was arrested after a police search of his car allegedly found a number of card skimming devices.

Police allege that Hennessey had defrauded 10 residents of the Eastwood-Gladesville and Ku-ring-gai areas of $32,000 by posing as a delivery man bearing wine and flowers.

Residents should certainly remain vigilant with regard to such scams. Similar schemes have been used by criminals in the past. Portable card reader equipment is now regularly used by many businesses and is becoming commonplace. Criminals are likely to continue to exploit the popularity of such machines by using card skimming devices that look the same as genuine card readers.

It should be noted however, that the particular incident described in this email occurred in Sydney, Australia and the culprit has now been apprehended. Some versions of the warning message that are circulating falsely claim that the incident took place in other locations, including the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, North Vancouver, Canada and at least one Asian city.

While they may be perfectly valid when first launched, a problem with such warning emails is that they may continue to circulate for years and eventually become outdated and redundant. And, as noted, false or misleading information may be added to the messages as they circulate and such additions can significantly erode their use as warnings.

In fact, a new variant of the warning began circulating in early 2012 via email and social media posts. The 2012 variant closely mirrors the information contained in the original 2008 version. However, at the time of writing, I could find no credible police or media reports that suggest that the same scam outlined in the 2008 warning is again occurring in 2012.

Before forwarding such warning messages, it is always wise to check that the information they contain is accurate and up-to-date.

Last updated: 26th March 2012
First published: 29th November 2008
By Brett M. Christensen
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