Scammers have managed to steal over R15 700 000 worth of toner cartridges from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and General Services Administration (GSA), among others, by placing fraudulent contract orders.
Federal News Radio reports that on 2 April 2014, GSA sent an email to all its suppliers, alerting them that since July 2012 GSA inspectors, the FBI and the EPA have been investigating fraudulent orders placed online by criminals claiming to federal contacting officials. The hackers had ordered HP toner cartridges using official federal employee credentials, fake email addresses and telephone numbers and stolen credit cards.
The GSA email stated that the list of agencies affected by the fraud grows larger each day, with some fraudulent orders totalling over R210 000. They have also discovered that scammers are now attempting to purchase laptops using similar scamming techniques. The email also stated that one arrest had been made so far and that they are still investigating the matter.
Investigators had found that the fraudsters were using a large network of re-packers to distribute the stolen toner cartridges across the United States. These re-packers are often unaware that the goods they are re-packaging and shipping are stolen.
Suppliers to the GSA and the affected agencies have been asked that they take additional steps to protect themselves and to help catch the scammers. They have been asked to verify shipping addresses by using Google Maps’ Street View function. They have also been asked to make audio recordings, if possible, of calls regarding these fraudulent orders.