Credit Card Triangulation

Credit card triangulation.

Sounds rather innocuous doesn’t it.

For those who know what it means though, it’s a scam you most certainly don’t want to get caught up in.

Basically, credit card triangulation involves a third party (the scammer) using a stolen credit card to obtain cash.


How does he do this?

By using you as a money laundering service of course!

The way it works is that the scammer will offer goods, usually through an online auction site.

These will be products available from an online site, such as or amazon.

At a bargain price and on a buy it now or short length auction, these products will seem tempting.

That’s exactly what the scammer is hoping.

So you win the auction.

Unfortunately, the seller doesn’t accept anything other than postal orders.

Oh well, nevermind, it was a bargain so that doesn’t matter.

A few days later and your parcel of books, for example, arrives from a site such as amazon.

You’ve bought from there before and the packaging looks the same, you’ve got what you paid for at a knock down price too.

So all is well.

Or is it?

Pleased with your purchase you go back online to see the same seller with more products you like on sale so you hastily bid for them and duly send him the postal orders.

Your packages arrive as they should and you are happy with your purchases.

Next to arrive is the company letter demanding full payment or return of their products.


Because the “gifts” you received were purchased with several different stolen credit cards.

In fact, a new credit card was used each day.

What the scammer has done is taken advantage of the fact that many online stores will post items as gifts to anyone and any address of their choosing.

This means he cannot be traced, seeing as the credit cards were never his in the first place.

Meanwhile, he has all the postal orders, which are as good as cash, and untraceable too.

Thanks to you, he has successfully turned a stolen credit card into his cash and your loss.

For when it comes to the law, the seller retains title over any product bought with a stolen credit card.

He’s used you as his money laundering service – you have aided and abetted in credit card triangulation.

Once again this comes back to the old maxim : if something seems too good to be true then it probably is.

Ask yourself why the item was cheap and ending soon (it’s because the scammer had to act quickly before the stolen credit card got blocked).

Look at the description – if it is verbatim with the sales copy on the original supplier’s site then that would suggest that that is where it is coming from.

In which case, why is it available at such a discounted rate?

Why does the seller only accept postal orders and not an online payment method or cheque?

Obviously all the others are traceable and offer some risk to him.

As they say in Britain… let the buyer beware!

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.

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