ST. PAUL, Minn. - $3,500 bucks a month for re-labeling packages and shipping them to another location?

It sounds too good to be true, and the Minnesota Commerce Department says that indeed, it is. The department on Wednesday issued a warning after receiving five complaints from state residents who were contacted via email and phone by a person claiming to be from Skyline Insurance, offering a lucrative job reshipping items.

In fact, there is no business registered in Minnesota as Skyline Insurance, and no such business located at the address listed in the email. Calls to the phone number listed were not answered. The alleged company's federal employer identification number actually registers to eBay. Commerce Department officials say the website is fake as well.

Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman says the scam being used by the reshippers often shows up as a 'work from home' opportunity on job boards, dating websites or chat rooms. What the ads really are is an attempt to lure unsuspecting individuals into a large-scale fraud scheme. Criminals behind the operation use stolen or fraudulent credit cards to buy merchandise, have it shipped to the homes of reshipping mules who repackage the merchandise and forward it to overseas addresses. Not only do the reshippers get pulled into a criminal operation, they frequently do not get paid, and in fact lose some of their own money shipping items with the promise of repayment.

The Commerce Department offers the following tips to help Minnesotans avoid getting lured into a reshipping scam:

  • Don’t accept or mail suspicious packages. No legitimate business should ask you to accept packages at your address and forward them someplace else, especially a foreign address.
  • Protect your money. Be suspicious if you are asked to make any upfront payments, transfer money from your bank account or wire transfer money for the “employer.”
  • Safeguard your information. Don’t give out any sensitive personal or financial information that the scammers can exploit. Even if they are not reshipping operators, they may be identity thieves.
  • Do some research. Simply looking at the company’s website may not be enough because reshipping operators often set up websites that can look legitimate. Check out the company with the Minnesota Commerce Department or the Better Business Bureau.
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. An offer to pay $3,500 per month simply to resend packages from your home doesn’t pass the smell test.

A recent study suggests that some 1.6 million credit and debit cards are used to commit at least $1.8 billion in reshipping fraud each year. Many online retailers have stopped allowing direct shipments from the U.S. to Russia, eastern Europe and Africa, citing the high rate of fraudulent transactions. As a result, criminals have resorted to reshipping schemes.