Is it a UPS Store? Is it a Regus virtual Office? Is it an Earth Class Mail Forwarding service? Is the phone a United World Telecom CallMe800 number?
More frequently processors are finding that shell companies are being set up to obtain merchant accounts for fraudulent transactions. Adele Services, Ideal Financial Solutions, and I Works are only a few of the recent criminal endeavors.
Criminals have used a range of legitimate business services to make it appear to credit card processors as though they are legitimate U.S. companies, even though the scammers may have never set foot in the U.S. For example, using a company called Regus, they were able to give their fictional companies addresses that were very close to the companies whose tax IDs they were stealing. Regus lets companies operate “virtual offices” out of a number of prestigious addresses throughout the U.S. — the Chrysler Building in New York for example — forwarding mail for as little as US$59 per month. Mail sent to Regus locations is then forwarded to another company, called Earth Class Mail, which scans correspondence and uses the Internet to deliver it to customers in pdf format. They use another legitimate virtual business service — United World Telecom’s CallMe800 — to have phone calls forwarded overseas. To further make it seem as though their companies are legitimate, the scammers set up fake retail Web sites. And when credit card processors ask them to provide information about company executives, they hand over legitimate names and social security numbers, stolen from ID theft victims. When they have to log into payment processor Web sites, they do this from IP addresses that are located near their virtual offices, again evading payment processor fraud detection services.
ARMS can help underwriters detect these subtle mismatched names, SSN s, addresses and telephones that signal potential fraudulent accounts.