Postmaster warns of shipping scams

Chris Jones: Greene Publishing, Inc.

According to Alison Crutchfield, Postmaster at the U.S. Post Office in Lee, Fl., selling items online and subsequently shipping them to other countries is a scam that local residents have fallen for.  Crutchfield has been at the Lee Post Office for 11 years, and has been the Postmaster since 2013.

“I've seen it all,” Crutchfield says.

She witnessed one individual attempting to send a phone to Africa to someone he referred to as his girlfriend. However, Crutchfield was unable to send this particular package. Crutchfield says that the Postal Inspection Service has a list of countries that are blocked for offices with only manual  shipping abilities, such as the Lee location, because customs forms cannot be generated there.

Crutchfield elaborated on a particular scam in which an individual tried to sell two cell phones online, expecting to be paid via the popular PayPal service. The buyer was from Nigeria, and wanted the phones shipped there.  The buyer asked the seller to send proof of express (overnight) shipment, which costs nearly $120 before finalizing the PayPal transaction.  However, once the shipment was made, the buyer rescinded the payment altogether. Additionally, since the destination was overseas, the package had to pass from the local office to the international customs processing center, where the shipping process cannot be interrupted.  This meant the unsuspecting seller now had no money, no phones, spent $120 on shipping, and is left with no recourse.

Crutchfield warns “If you think its a scam, it probably is,” and encourages sellers to withdraw the funds from the processing service before shipping sold items, especially to other countries.