Double Fraud! Medical Marijuana and Shipping Costs! — On June 28, a man in his 40’s, contacted us to ask a simple question…“Is this a real shipper?” and included a link to a shipping/transportation company at securelinelogisticsllc.com: Secureline Logistics – Transportation and Logistics. At first we figured this was one of the many dozens of fake shipping websites that hire Americans as mules to move stolen merchandise and then ghost them after 4-5 weeks without pay. But it wasn’t! It turns out that the man who contacted us has a challenging medical problem and deals with constant pain. He tells us that he actually has a “medical marijuana card” to help him manage his pain. However, the products he has purchased in his state are poor, he told us, and so he thought he would try to buy a higher quality product from a company he found online, called Green House Dispensary. Their website, greenhousedispensary.store, claims they are located somewhere in Capay, California but offers no physical address. This dispensary uses the shipping service securelinelogisticsllc.com and the man was being told that his shipment was being held up until he paid an additional fee. This fee made no sense and he began to suspect fraud. Join us in this double fraud that nearly cost him more than a thousand dollars until we intervened…
To protect the man’s identity, we’ll call him Ben. Ben actually spoke to the cannabis seller several times by phone and told us he had a slight African accent. Keep in mind that it is legal to purchase marijuana in New York, but as the man later discovered, it isn’t legal to purchase marijuana and have it shipped to another state. Ben described his suspicions to us like this… “I was actually going to ask you for help because [the shipping problem] was so convoluted. I lost nearly $1000. $176 for the products I ordered. Then $800 more as he was so convincing that I thought the package was being held by the FDA. He didn’t pressure me to buy more products up front. He seemed so knowledgeable about the products. I found it strange that an African would not say what country he was from, so I really grilled him on actual phone calls and I believed him. He spoke of how the accent causes so much skepticism that he says he’s American to try and deflect negativity. He was so cunning. I even mentioned that I’d seen some bad reviews of the store. And he seemed so genuinely hurt telling me how competitors do this. He said he’s been in business since 2016 and the amount of shenanigans that go on in this industry. When explaining the shipping company, he mentioned ‘how do you think people ship things like cocaine through the mail?’ These shippers have ways of negotiating any issue. And these FDA certificates give you a year of unobstructed medicine delivery. We talked on the phone quite a lot.
After the initial $176 I paid for products, the JFK shipping hold happened. The shipping site looked so real. With tracking updates and such. They said $300 would provide an FDA Certificate needed for the package not to be opened and confiscated. They did ask for date of birth saying it was necessary for the FDA to confirm my identity and to create a certificate. That payment was on Zelle to someone named DARIUS. Then they came back and said the FDA needs to add 2 stamps to the certificate to indicate my card holder status. Each stamp was $100, so that was $200 more. Now it was $500 extra. And I needed to send them my Medical Certificate, which I did.
TDS NOTE: Below is a screenshot that Ben was shown when he entered his tracking number into the “track package” field at securelinelogisticsllc.com. When we asked Google to search for the phone number shown for “Brian Harden,” several links were returned for the Green House Dispensary website, as well as 2 suspicious links for “Find a Voodoo Doctor Near Me” on a website in both Germany and Italy. (We don’t make this stuff up, people.)
Then they said there was a final hoop the FDA was making them jump through. They said insurance was needed for final release of the package.That was another $300. I was really scared and did it. That is $800 on top of the $176 I paid for the product. There had been so much contact from both the seller and shipper. And I was really scared about being in trouble. This seemed cheaper than having to go to court. Initially I really questioned him. And he seemed to be willing to let me take the risk and not do the first $300. He seemed to be a compassionate person on the phone. ‘All we want to do is protect your safety,’ he said, ‘that’s why we use these secure shippers.’ He was so sorry but if this wasn’t done, the risk could be a felony. He said not jail, but being booked and having a possible felony record. But he seemed to be willing to let me take the risk of not doing the FDA certificate. He said he’s never had this happen in New York. It’s usually smooth. And seeing as I’d just seen the Governor was cracking down on illegal shops opening, it made sense that now it might be more difficult to ship to NY. I still thought ok since I had a card. But I was wrong.”
We investigated both businesses, Green House Dispensary (https://greenhousedispensary.store/) and Secure Line Logistics LLC (https://securelinelogisticsllc.com) and found both to be fake websites that, in our opinions, are used to scam people. Here’s our reasoning…
Green House Dispensary
The Green House Dispensary says on their website “We could brag about our Ph.D.s, cutting-edge equipment and superior growing methods, but it’s our passion to push ourselves and the entire cannabis industry that is the driving force behind everything GHD. Beautifully. Crafted. Science.
We specialize in the very finest, pharmaceutical-grade, Organic & Vegan Cannabis. We deliver it straight to your home across the globe. Source your medicinal cannabis products with peace of mind, from our all vegan, strictly organic and pesticide-free menu.” But this is TOTAL BS! Their website also says that it was copyrighted from 2017 – 2020 and “We have been growing organic produce for customers since 1976.” But their domain, greenhousedispensary.store, was registered in late October, 2018 in Iceland using the FAVORITE Registrar of cybercriminals… Namecheap!
This marijuana dispensary shows up on both Scamadviser.com and Scampulse.com and Scampulse shows several reviewers who describe this scam, including an exact description matching Ben’s problem with them. The Better Business Bureau website has given them an “F” business rating! But most importantly, we found that this website is an easy fraud to uncover because they show 3 of their farmers, by name, on their site. We immediately recognized these images as “stock images” that anyone can buy! For example, we found the image of “Michael Andrews” (born on the farm in Capay) was also on a website selling sod in Baton Rouge, Louisiana as well as a landscaping company’s website located in Chicago! (It’s worth noting that NONE of the social media links underneath the 3 farmers work at all.
As for the shipping service SecureLinesLogisticsllc.com,
- Their “About Us” page https://securelinelogisticsllc.com/about02.html shows their CEO as “Martha Parker.” This image of Martha Parker is a stock image found on many websites across the Internet.
- The domain “securelinelogisticsllc.com” was registered in Iceland using Namecheap back in 2019. This fact by itself makes the site suspicious. However…
- There are many subtle English grammar errors on their website
- Google and the rest of the Internet knows almost NOTHING about this business. (This is important!) One of the very few links about this business is to a service called Datanyze.com. It states that this business was founded in 1979. If this is true, it makes no sense then that their website wasn’t registered until 2019! Also, this article shows a business address for this company as 2233 Watt Ave 282, Sacramento, California, 95825. But Google maps doesn’t list any such business at this address.
- On the SecurelineLogisticsLLC.com website is a contacts page that claims to have 150 locations. And yet, there are only 15 pins on the map and NONE of them shows a full address for any of their offices.
- The contact web page, https://securelinelogisticsllc.com/contact-simple.html, also shows a Google map that cannot find the business address for this company. The page shows an address in Manhattan that cannot possibly exist. It is listed as “123 Second Street Fifth Avenue” in Manhattan, New York. Also, the area code on the phone number is for Colorado and not New York.
We could go on with more points about this business that are fraudulent, but it should be clear that this is not a real business. It is a scammer’s website and created by the same scammers who created GreenHouseDispensary.store! In all, Ben paid these scammers $476, but it could have been over $1000! He also told us “I feel like an idiot. But at first $300 seemed a better risk than going to court. But then they add $200, upsetting, but you think that will be it. And they are telling you the whole time that their shipping insurance covers it so will be returned in cash upon delivery. And that I now have this FDA clearance certificate that lasts one year for any future mailings. But the reason the payments have to come first from me is so FDA knows I am personally making the payments for the certificates. Which now I see makes no sense. If the shipper is insured for any obstruction, the shipper should have been able to pay for these certificates, then I don’t need a refunded by them at all. But you get so wrapped up in the fear and the desire to have the package delivered.
They said the $300 had released the package and I even saw it was back in transit on the shipping site. I thought it was over and the package would be delivered now. They said it was now in the shippers possession, released from State Attorney FDA situation. But they said as the delivery person leaving the DEA stopped them for a bribe. Now they need $200 more. That’s when I finally realized all was a lie. I had suspected it, but now I knew. This is when I really started searching and found you. How I wish I had done it sooner.”
Lessons to be learned…
It is standard operating procedure for scammers to start with a small-ish ask, say $176, but then to have unexpected problems arise that require the victim to pay more, and more and more… until you realize you are being scammed and stop paying! A 2009 study be University of Exeter in the UK found that “trust and authority” had a significant impact on the successful exploitation of victims. (See page 135. Section 11.4) We find both of these attributes as critical components to the vast majority of successful scams. For example, for Ben, he trusted both websites as legitimate at first. He even spoke multiple times with one of the scammers and when the scammer spoke about the FDA (US Food & Drug Administration) requirements and issues, this imposed a feeling of authority in Ben that pushed him to sending an additional $300! The most important lesson we urge our readers to understand is that online deceit is exceptionally easy to perpetrate! Our point….verify, Verify, VERIFY! (And we are always here for you! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org)
NOTE: It is common practice in the online purchase of specialty liquors and pets, such as dogs, that “problems with delivery” will be a reason why scammers come back with subsequent fees after you’ve made your purchase.
Final notes: On June 29, Ben wrote us to say:
“Yeah…this guy is still trying to convince me I need to send more $ or the DEA could come after me. He scared me into thinking it was being held for FDA inspection. Send this to release and get an FDA certificate that allows for medicine shipments for a year. Then they need stamp added to certify I am a Medical Marijuana card holder (which I am) etc. More money. Told me this is rare to be held, but they can get around it. Said worse to have package confiscated and have to be booked and processed. Apparently these shippers circumnavigate the regulations. It was so sophisticated.”
Ben has spoken to Brian Harden several times on these phone numbers: Mobile +1 (951) 723-5362 and
WhatsApp +1 (513) 492-2569. Mr. Harden left the following 1-minute voice message while calling from 951-723-5362 to Ben on July 2. You can hear the subtle African accent:
Brian Harden from Green House Dispensary
Brian Harden, from Green House Dispensary also sent Ben the image of this FDA Certificate via email claiming that Ben needs to address this remaining issue (payment) urgently. We enlarged that image, looked closely and noticed 2 critically important things…
- The signature is that of David Lemmarz, not Robert M. Califf. And, Robert M. Califf is head of the FDA, not the Registrar Corp, according to our Google search.
- The name Robert M. Califf was typed OVER the signature for Lemmarz in this document and evidence of that can be seen if you magnify and look closely at this image. It should also be noted that we found the official FDA document online in multiple locations, including this website in Germany, with the signature of Dr. Califf on it.
Is the Email About Google Album Archive Legit? — Have you received an email from Google about the upcoming discontinuation of Album Archive and wondered if it’s a scam? Check out and protect yourself with this 100% FREE, all-in-one tool.
Are You a Victim? Threats Via Text and Social Media – IMPORTANT: We are partnering with an investigative reporting team from a well-known news service on a story about a specific type of fraud. If you, or someone you know, has been a victim of a malware infection or phishing fraud that started by clicking a link in a malicious email that looked like a survey, reward, advertisement, or other offer, please contact us. Your story can help others by bringing attention to the people who help make this type of fraud possible. Contact: email@example.com
Last week we offered a phone recording of Scambaiter Extraordinaire, Rob, as he used his “pseudo-AI” device to have a conversation with a scammer named “Jacob” from the “Visa / Mastercard Credit Card Department.” (See the Your Money column.) Coincidentally, on June 29 we saw an article in the Wall Street Journal about the fact that more and more people are using phone bots to “torture telemarketers” to the point where they hang up in frustration! It warmed our hearts. (WSJ requires registration or a subscription to read the article.)
One of our readers sent us this text just a few days ago that he received from “Lisa.” Lisa, it seems, thought that she was texting Anne, but must have mistyped and reached the fellow. However, he was smart enough to know it was a scammer! We’ve seen THIS EXACT TEXT scam before! “I’m Lisa, aren’t you Anne?” KSL TV reported on this “random text scam” in 2021 and then updated their article in April, 2023. ABC News has also reported on this scam a year ago in July, 2022.
Another form of this scam dropped onto Doug’s phone recently from 929-346-8200 and it was a simple 2 word text:. “Hi boy.” My response shut down the conversation…
Also recently one of our readers forwarded an interesting scam email to us that pretended to be from Facebook. But it is an unusual and dangerous form of fraud. This email came from a server called crissfood[.]com, and not from facebook.com! The recipient is told that a user just logged into his account from a new device. Oh my! What to do?! Clicking either link will send a notification to 115 email addresses around the world! It’s so important to mouse over links and look before you click!
Amazon, Truist Financial Corp, and Geek Squad! — Technically speaking, using multiple exclamation marks at the end of a sentence or phrase is grammatically incorrect. (We’re remembering our old high school English teacher’s lambasting remarks!) This is why “Delivery Update!!” immediately got our attention as a likely fraud. That and the fact that Amazon doesn’t send their emails from a free Gmail account! (Although, Grammarly.com now tells us that it’s OK to use more than 1 exclamation mark to make your point!!! But would Grammarly have approved of Lilia’s use of 96 exclamation marks in her email to Rob in last week’s story about romance scams?) But no matter, this “Amazon” email with attached pdf is a phishing scam that our long-time readers will immediately recognize. Please take out your Airhorn cans, put on your noise-canceling headphones, and call these scammers….errr, we mean Amazon, at 865-245-9585 and let her rip as soon as you hear a REAL voice!
Truist Financial Corporation is an American Bank formed from the merger of BB&T and SunTrust Banks (According to Wikipedia.) But none of that really matters because this email about fraud and your Truist Account came from a University server in Nepal! (Notice the 2-letter country code “.np” AND the global top level domain of “.edu”) The link to update your contact information points to a free link-shortening service at rb.gy. When we asked Sucri.net to look at that link, it told us that you’ll be forwarded to a malicious mimic of Truist created by a dyslexic…. Dias-Trusit[.]info Detele!!! (Note, this phishing domain was registered in Iceland through Namecheap less than 2 weeks earlier. What a surprise, said dripping with sarcasm.)
No doubt our readers are thinking “Noooooooooooooo! Not another Geek Squad phishing scam!” But wait! This one also has a wonderful heartfelt wish to you from the scammer! He starts with “I hope your day is as wonderful as you.” followed by another warm embrace! But then the scammer ruins it by ending with “Move forward.” No! Do not move forward and call these scammers! (Unless you have your airhorn and sound-canceling headphones handy. 😉 ) You know what to do.
Senior Discounts and Sam’s Club Survey Rewards — Sadly, cybercriminals often target senior citizens because they are typically found to be a vulnerable population and frequently unable to tell truth from lies online. Take this “My Senior Perks” email as an example. It did not come from my-senior-perks.com, as they want you to believe. More importantly, the links point not to any domain NAME, but instead to an IP Address (Look in the lower left corner to see a set of numbers showing the address of a web server). If you ever see an IP Address in the link, it USUALLY means that the link creator wants to hide the destination from you. Normal and safe links always use domain names. We asked VirusTotal.com to evaluate that IP Address and it said that 5 security services had identified it as malicious. Lunge for the delete key!
EasierEats.com is a legitimate website that is dedicated to making mealtime easier and more delicious! However, they appear to have been hacked and misused to redirect your click to a malicious website in Malaysia. Check out this email claiming to offer $90 worth of rewards for taking a Sam’s Club Survey! THIS IS A COMMON THEME used by cybercriminals! The email came from EasierEats.com and the links point to a subdomain there called “tr.b1” (Subdomain within a subdomain). Anyone clicking the link will be sent off to Malaysia to visit a website called MegaSurveyZone[.]com. This multi-word domain was registered about 2 months ago and Scamadviser.com gives it a trust rating of 1 out of 100.
EFT Payments — A chemical company’s Safety Officer is getting hammered by very malicious clickbait. (She then forwards them to us!) Most of it has attached HTM files that contain instructions for a web browser. How well do you think it will go for this company if the Safety Officer allows cybercriminals to direct her browser to do whatever the criminals want? Yeah, that’s what we thought too. However, check out this VERY clever threat hidden in the attached HTM file of a recent email sent to this company on June 27. The subject line states that it is an “EFT Payment” for the company. When we safely cracked open the attached file, we discovered code that was designed to send this woman’s web browser to a file buried on a server of a catering website in Pakistan! We doubt this was payment for a kebab or biryani! (Never click on files that end with the extensions “htm” “html” or “php”)z
USPS and Was This Really Crate & Barrel? — We have often informed our readers of malicious texts disguised as messages from the United States Postal Service (USPS). They are popular forms of hand-grenades lobbed at netizens across the US. Below are 2 recent examples sent to us by readers. This problem plagues LOTS of Americans! Notice, that they both come from email addresses and NOT from short codes! (Short codes are usually used to send texts only from large legitimate companies because the short code must be registered and purchased. Scammers are too cheap and won’t risk the registration process.) Also, notice the crap global top level domain at the end of the link in this first text. The REAL USPS is simply usps.com and NOT DOT-work! This crap domain was registered just 2 days earlier in China.
Finally, we leave you with a bizarre anomaly! We always say that scammers will never use short codes to send their malicious text but we **may** have a sample that proves us wrong! A few days ago one of our readers sent us this screenshot of a VERY suspicious text, claiming to represent a Crate & Barrel 60% warehouse sale. And indeed, the service at Sucuri.net finds no risk and that the link in this text will forward us to the Crate & Barrel website where a 60% off sale is happening now! HOWEVER, we can’t get past 2 aspects of this text that are HIGHLY SUSPICIOUS! We would NEVER click this link and do not recommend that the public click it as well.
- According to this Short Code directory, the short code 33601 belongs to Dollar General Store and NOT Crate & Barrel
- It makes no sense to us why the legitimate crateandbarrel.com website would register and use a domain called attn[.]tv for their link! The “crateandbarrel” that precedes it is a subdomain in this link.
Also, though less important, Attn[.]tv was registered using the Registrar Gandi.net, centered in France but found in dozens of countries including the US. The real crateandbarrel.com domain was initially registered through a different registrar many years prior.
Until next week, surf safely!
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