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Passel of concerns about parcel

Unordered package may be part of an international scam

Staff writer

When Denise Klein received a package that she hadn’t ordered, she immediately felt something was amiss.

One red flag was that the label said it cost $20 but she saw no corresponding charge to her bank account.

Klein is certain she didn’t order it.

The label included a phone number and return address to China. It said the package contained scarves, but it appeared to have contained facemasks instead.

“I don’t know how much of that’s legitimate or bogus,” she said. “I’m not sure.”

For Klein, a Lincolnville resident, her main concern was for others.

“I would like people to know in case they get one,” she said. “Some people just go ahead and open it up.”

Instead, she called the United States Postal Service, which collected the package for inspection. Communications specialist Mark Inglett said the Postal Service saw little indication of foul play.

“There have been similar things that have happened with other items besides masks or something,” he said. “People order something online and they’ll be like, ‘Hey, I didn’t order this.’ We always tell them to check their credit cards and we ask them to contact the company.”

“I’m worried about other people, especially older people,” she said. “They might open it and think, ‘Oh, I don’t have any masks,’ and not pay attention to the packaging. I don’t know if they’re going to send more out. I have no idea.”

Klein’s son was the first to alert her that it might be part of a larger issue.

He sent Klein a news story about a person who had received a similar package in Boston despite never ordering anything.

“The address was the exact address that was on my package,” Klein said. “It was just really strange.”

USPS is checking the contents to be sure, Inglett said.

“There nothing out of the ordinary that we’ve seen and no other instances like that,” he said. “But we turned it in to the inspection service, and if there’s anything that’s relevant to it they’ll certainly let us know.”

Under U.S. postal regulations, any package a person receives but did not order is considered a gift. The recipient may keep it, return it or discard it, without any obligation.

Nationwide, published reports have indicated a growing number of so-called “brushing” cases in which Asian companies send American goods and the fake positive online reviews of the products as “verified” purchasers.

A loophole in postal pricing actually makes it cheaper for some Asian companies to send items to America than it costs to send the same items within America.

Last modified July 1, 2020

 

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