Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Fraud watch - how to spot a fake parcel delivery email

It's an unfortunate aspect of online life that businesses and customers are frequently subject to attempted fraud. Fraudsters masquerade as real businesses, creating false websites and sending fake notification emails, in an attempt to scam people into sending money or downloading harmful email attachments.

In the run-up to Christmas, delivery companies in particular are targeted, as many parcels are being sent and received and people may be expecting gifts.

So what should you watch out for?

Emails that say payment is required

The most common type of email fraud reported to us is a request for payment, usually for international deliveries. You might receive an email that informs you that there is a parcel waiting for you, but that some payment is required to complete the delivery.

Spam document asking for absurd insurance fee.

Usually the sender asks for either:

(1) insurance money
(2) customs duties and taxes

These emails may be accompanied by false documentation, complete with pretend order or receipt numbers and address details—sometimes even the recipient's name. They may also include a photograph of the supposed parcel.

Sometimes they include genuine links to the delivery company's website, but provide a phone number or email address that belongs to the fraudulent party, who will then answer when you try to make contact.

It's usually easy to spot these fraudulent emails by the absurd amounts of money they ask for—more than you would ever be expected to pay for insurance or customs.

But the bottom line is that, in any case, you should never make a payment without doing the proper checks first, especially if it's been requested by email.

False logo, huge customs fee and official-looking form.

If in doubt, track down the official website of the courier company (if it exists), and check with them, using the contact details on their site, to see whether any such parcel exists. Order reference numbers, or screenshots of any emails, will be able to help with speedy identification.

Never rely on the contact information provided in the email, and don't open any attachments!

In the first place, remember to ask the most obvious questions: Am I expecting a delivery? And do I know the person who's supposed to be sending it?

Emails with harmful links/attachments

Scammers are very good at creating emails that look convincing, and might even have stolen the text and layout of genuine emails. These emails, as mentioned, sometimes contain valid links and contact information to add a veneer of authenticity.

If you ever receive an email regarding an unknown parcel delivery—one you haven't recently made yourself—never click on any of the links or open any attachments. Even an innocuous-looking .doc file can contain a trojan virus.

Never submit any of your personal details, including usernames and passwords, after following a link without first checking the URL.  You can check the real URL of links by hovering (but not clicking!) over them. If these links don't use the official domain of the company (e.g., they aren't to be trusted.

Fake URL and tracking number.

In the event that you do mistakenly open an attachment or follow a malicious link, delete the email and run your antivirus software to check for malware.

Remember, Google is your friend: often you can search for other emails like yours and find that others have already reported it.

A note on sender addresses

Usually you can tell easily when a sender email is fake—for example, when it doesn't use a company's own domain but something like or If they're more sophisticated, they might use a domain that looks similar to the real one, which you can check by Googling.

However, this is not always a reliable way of determining a genuine email, because sender addresses can be forged, to make it appear as if they are being sent from an official company email.

It is possible to determine the real address by checking the email header. But if that's too technical for your tastes, get in touch directly with the courier company to make sure.

Emails from Transglobal Express

If you have received an email from someone claiming to be Transglobal Express, here are a few facts to help you recognise the imposters.

This scam email actually uses one of our old templates.

We don't have branches anywhere but the UK and Germany. Our domains are:

When sending shipment labels and invoices, we will only ever send PDFs—never .doc files or any other kind of file.

We would never charge more than £40 for insurance cover (we only insure up to a maximum value of £2000), and we would never request insurance via email, from the sender or the receiver. Insurance is arranged and paid for as part of the booking process.

We don't handle customs charges. Customs would get in touch with the recipient directly.

You can view our Contact Us page for our contact details, including legitimate phone numbers. If in doubt, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

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