GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. (WKBW) — On Wednesday, Diedre Rutherford of Grand Island said she received a massive package outside her home. Inside the package were hundreds of smaller packages, all addressed to people in Canada.
“This box was packed full. It was heavy," she said. "It’s gonna be expensive to ship it back.”
Eager to open what she thought may be a gift from a family member, Rutherford rushed to open the package.
“I opened it up, and I initially thought that this packaging was packaging around whatever was stuck in the middle of this box," she said. "I kept digging, and no, there was nothing in there. Just more of these packages.”
When Rutherford realized this must have been a mistake, she tried to return the package to the post office, but she said it was denied.
“They said the box was addressed to you. You opened it's yours.”
So now she’s stuck with hundreds of these little packages.
“It’s like I’ve been hired to do something,” she said.
Melanie McGovern of the Better Business Bureau is calling this a reshipping scam where a company sends a package to you and ask you to send it out to other people.
“A lot of times, you’re never gonna get reimbursed for the money that you spend shipping. You don’t know what’s in the packaging. It could be things that are illegal.”
McGovern says these companies get your information when you apply to things like stay at home warehouse jobs or even when you sign up for Secret Santa.
“A lot of people fall for this scam, especially during the pandemic," she said. "We did see a little bit of an increase in this, especially in the beginning of year.”
McGovern says if you receive a package that’s been addressed to you, but you never ordered it, hold off on opening it right away.
“Check that return address. Look it up. See if it's a legitimate company or not," she said. "You don't want to end up on some weird mailing list like it sounds like she did in this situation. So keep track of that stuff.”
From now on, Rutherford said she’s going to be extra careful when it comes to opening packages.
“I would warn people to do the same thing," she said. "Look at the return address on the box before you open it to see if it looks like it's from a company that has a name and that it sounds like it's from some place instead of just a random warehouse in New Jersey.”
Raymond Williams, an inspector at the United States Postal Office said if you receive a miscellaneous package to call the 24-7 USPS hot line at 1-877-876-2455. Ask to speak to law enforcement and you will be redirected to the proper person.