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#99 Black Hole, New Jersey


A mysterious thief has been using the internet to steal a bizarre array of items - watches, scooter parts, clown costumes. This week, Alex heads straight towards his hideout.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This episode is brought to you by better for him a new podcast from eighty people. In each episode Francesca Ramsay talks to visionaries in business leaders about mistakes. They ve made how they work their way through them and came out better for it. Listen on sport. Fi or wherever you get? Your pot casts hair violators. Quick now before us are the show. We have something to ask of you. We are looking for your memories of the internet. The way you first incarnate the experience you had that change your life or the weird stranger you mad or the trouble you got in order the things that shaped you that now feel like they disappeared, a lotta. You know what I'm talking about we're taking all kinds of stories. We want to hear them from you. If you have one, please send me an email at reply, all gimlet media dot com. You such a line, a hundred, keep it brief. Just like a couple paragraphs, and we might give you call to talk about on the show Thank you so much. Here's the episode,
from gimlet. This reply, all I'm outcome. And I'm he gave up and this week pda Super exports back. Hello, prizes, peanut, yeah. This is how golden hey do in pretty good, very good. So recently I spoke to this girl in Brenna. She said Ten years old, she lives in Pennsylvania. She works to the gas station and yet a pretty odd tech support issue.
While back she decided to save up to get an apple watch. Why did you want an apple watch? I don't know. I guess I just thought it was a cool and make its better like when you're driving, instead of having to like looking around for directions. Dislike look here s so I mean it must have been like six months that you're the same over nothing Yankees like a while. I get subway making seven twenty five an hour so Just really do the math on that, but I mean I work. A lot of hours actually did the math it's about fifty five hours so anyway to bypass apple watch and she decides she's not, into it, and so she goes to sell it on this auction site called posh mark. It requires that the debate that is not exactly an someone bought away
which she was super excited about, and they asked her to ship it to this address in a town called Port Redding New Jersey, six hundred murkily street is as was mean something right, it's not, but it will. I had my apple like and someone bought it, so I did like what I would usually do shipped it right, collective shippers and possible? You don't actually paid on punchmark until the buyer receives the package so Bruno under ship. It fast in a couple days after she shipped it. The person who bought it sent her an email. It said: hey, my posh mark accounts been hacked. Some hacker ordered apple watch. I dont even live at six hundred markedly street and bring it was just like God, so she's freaking out a little bit. She get in touch with the post office and does nothing I didn't know you could do, which is you can pay thirteen dollars to have a package internet?
did ya. Basically what that means. Is they flag the thing so when they, you know sweep it with the barcode reader? It will say this package should not go out. Keep us at the Post office are returned to the sender and I called the yes yes like that so perfect, but it don't you and I set it, be intercepted, and then I got on my tracking. It showed that it was tat. He must be really pissed off yeah what about watch so this apple watches long gone and push mark. The company that bring us all the true. They tell her they're, not gonna, refund the money, but she knew the address where the hacker had the watch sent, and so I started look and six hundred markedly street, and the first thing that I noticed is that whoever is getting sent there is insanely, brazen and prolific their running. Well, I google the address six hundred Barkley Street and a lot of people complain about having their Ebay or Etsy or posh mark account being hacked and having their stuff,
sent to this address and no rhyme a reason to the stuff that's being sent there like there were scooter parts a fit bit. Five hundred and forty five dollars and designer clothes. Someone on Twitter said that a bunch of clowns costumes were bought. Tat is so weird yeah. It's it's a weird mix and Brenna has a theory which is she's, convinced that this is not just one guy.
Whose hacking people's accounts in keeping all the stuff, but that this is some kind of organised crime like it's a hacking ring and that it even has a fate company serving as a front and the reason that she thinks this is because six hundred markedly street isn't like a street address. It's not summons house. It's a warehouse in its owned by a company called Measter M p S, T furthering gown would say raced up up up up up up up up up up ends meet has a website, and if you look at it, it says that they ship to Eastern Europe, Middle Asia and the Caucasus. Ok, but
You, Google, missed you find tons of people talking about how it's a scam about how their accounts got hacked about half of his disappearing to this address, and it has like a better Business bureau rating of a de minus. It does not have a good profile on Google and greener started talking to other people who are victims of these hacks and stared hearing all kinds of crazy rumours are my own name been abandoned where now come on, come on up about that
and actually deliberated like she sang the post office is pulling the package's aside and then getting kickbacks from this fate company to send the package's somewhere else, and she wanted to go investigate. I I wanted you gotta get out by my pang, wouldn't want you. I just want, like Paul, can now by lying the gale right now, I'm very gay about it. So Brean his parents, wouldn't let her go investigate this, but I'm a grown up and I have a car. Anyone who has been to London were riding avenue. So the first place that Rina wanted me to go with the wood bridge Post office, which is the post office where they were supposed to intercept her Appalache just to see if they are somehow false, like if anything, shady going on if they're taking bribes. This is
idea that I was sceptical of, but I wanted to just go, make sure you're. Not so I got there and I just walked up to the counter, and I had my my record a rolling, and I said I'm a reporter and I am working on a story about a bunch of packages that seem to be getting delivered to an address in the port, adding area. All I know is, I bet get around yeah? I guess you got it exactly right where peace, citing are due packages, get delivered there all the time you get a lot more more than would be able to get all that that specific address Well then, I got good hasn't insane. That's great
hundred house in the neighborhood, and so I said to the to the guy, who is working ask, are you dirty? I said you know someone told me they got in into they sent in intercept and the package went out anyway and he said what to my mind, seemed like a pretty plausible thing to say: we deal with lots of packages. People make mistakes yeah! That's what I assume thought him. Yes me too, but the interesting thing is that the post office there also says issues. Six hundred Barkley Street speculative Danny checker out some somebody must be added the credit card, the indeed like the postal inspectors. Yet no women- the water, so I decided to go check it out. For myself, I drove to six hundred partly street. I passed a bunch of Strip Mall threesome,
verbs and then down this sort of like industrial park, and there were a bunch of different companies. They are one was like a chip, some company, gypsum versus it's like. I met a minute So we're very thing about the world: all these gypsum minors are you idiot and at the very very ended. This road is six hundred markedly street, which is just like this gigantic warehouse. Is there a sign? There's a pretty utilitarian sign that says: Beast America so I go in and there's like a very small waiting area. Couple chairs, there's a table with some magazines on it and then there's a window. Like the doctors office, where you sign in and on. I just walk up to the window, I'm wearing my headphones. I have this gigantic microphone and dumb pretty nervous I'm a quarter and
something that I could talk to someone here about a story that I'm working on. Apparently, a lot of packages are ending up being sent to meet that are somehow being purchased on hacked Ebay accounts, and I was wondering if there is anyone I could speak to her expression, totally didn't change. She picked up the phone, said like a half sentence and when I assume was russian and put it back down and then another woman came out and said. I think that you support the totalitarian managing Natalia but she's, not in today's ok, early back on Tuesday sure, because It's not usually. You know we have some kind of reporters wrecked, I understand and then she said something I don't think she was supposed to say The ice here Oh really, you guys have the police and F B. I visit
and ass soon ass. She said that the receptionist, the one who do, who maintained a totally neutral expression kind, it looked at her with a plea, shut up face: oh yeah wow, so so I left I e mail Natalia and she told me that a correct for an interview, so I went back and I brought producer fee, abandon you ready fear was nervous yak, as we were going to some like weird warehouse in the middle of New Jersey, like nowhere New Jersey, where olive stolen packages were disappearing and we were gonna go confront some complete strangers to find out what the hell is going on. We arrived at about five pm justness like this. This company was closing for the day, hello, we're back. We have pointed this out
please. So we both sit down in this little like waiting area, we're just staring at this black door. That's in front of us. The Natalia is going to come out and it also happens to be the end of the day. So there were people pouring out that black dog and every time the door open I was like. Maybe this is gonna be Natalia, but it was a lot of people, mostly women, who spoke Guy Ukrainian Russian, and they were saying goodbye in another language. The receptionist then finally, Natalia came out into
b and where you tell your guy, she was very put together. She was like very well dressed. She seemed very professional. She was very politely towered, maybe early forties. She brought us back into her office, which was a very big room at the conference table in it, and we sat down at her desk and the first thing that she says is you're not recording this and fears like ok. But if your voices in this peace it's gonna make you seem like you have something to hide and Natalia thinks it over and she says. Ok turn on the rapporteur and the first question asks us just. Can you tell me what meat does mean? America is email, forwarding
company. We I freight forward shipper. What does that mean? What's a freight corridor, a freight forwarders, basically a ship company that ships so according to that area. Here is how these makes money. They ship packages, the former USSR countries, and they do it at a much cheaper rate in places like Fedex anew, PS and one of the ways that they do. This is by taking packages percent of them in the? U S and consolidating, for instance, I live in that say in Lithuania, and I want to buy goods from three online stores. Different goods will we offer. We received the goods here. We re package the goods from three stores into one box and Some saves on shipping as well, so, according to Natalia that's, how mused makes its money I wanted to know if that's the case, why are there so many reports of fraud? Is this something that
as our whereof is assuming that you're trying to deal with, and if so, how are you trying to do what he s? Of course, something that we are aware, a balance and what we do when we find out that this happens, and that say the owner of that account calls us. We immediately return the good to that store or to the owner, but unfortunately it often happens weight and the goods already ship to even deliberate and its damaging our image. The image of our company ivy, we had seen all the pages of people complaining about meat when I googled the company, but there's this other thing that I found it was a website that was in russian and there was a post on their which was basically like instructions on how to use meat to steal stuff, and I wanted to show it to her. I found a website that was in Russia. That was basically like it was it
Is it basically a hacker saying like this is how you how you steal from people? I don't know man this. What is that call? Is it's a blogger? It's it's a forum for hackers, it's like instructions, and if you go down to the bottom, it says like do read ration yeah, it's looks like it's instruction. Here, my god, and they would our address it's how you feel terrible terrible. I have to go there and and give them instead
sure that every package that arrives here was hacked account or stolen credit cards will be reported to FBI and send to Interpol, oh boy, Guinea, have this links at least send me the c mon. She was very upset. She was rattled super rattled away. We try to be reliable and honest. We are honest with our customers by this online fraud, that's happening at the online scores. This has to be fought,
and what you showed me right now upsets me along the reason that these frauds or so upsetting dignitaries, because even though this fraud represents it incredibly small percentage of the thousands of packages that they send a day if Ebay or posh, Mark or Amazon decides the shop shipping with them like they could shut down and even just trying to approach these companies she's worried. That's gonna put them on the radar and just the blacklist beast, and just not let people ship to them anymore, which it seems like a totally reasonable concern- and she said, has happened before that some companies distance into the address and at one point in its high, actually reach out to the FBI to try and get help from them, and the only thing that ultimately came of it is they did an audit of missed that site
so she's reached out to have Yahoo is not an alarm luck. Her. We talked in Italian from forty five minutes and toward the end of our conversation, I told her about Brianna and the missing apple watch, and I said well, be willing to give us like the name or the phone number or any kind of contact info for the person who stole her watch and she was like. We have a whole list of accounts that we of because of fraud. Would you like us to give you that contact info and we really yes, of course we would in so she said she send it, but in the meantime we are trying to come up with some other ways that we could get to bring his watch thief and fear came up with a brilliant idea. She was like why don't you send a package to meet care, brain is hackers account and put a tracking device in and see where it goes. Well, that is brilliant. It is brilliant right. I mean the other thing you
do gave away the maiden packages. It thus end. I don't think so. You want to send me yeah, My battery life is twelve, where you put some water in some. Who tell her. I will say you were not the first person to make that suggestion. Oh man, hey clearly get so on Tuesday me and fear and TIM ensuring a decided by five gps tracking. Mrs. These are the cutest. What all Jp S devices in the world looks like. It could be like a cute little bleat, blurb thing in star wars. Few means adroit.
We sent thunder brain is hacker and then for two other accounts that we were used in hacks and we send each of them with an account number associated with it with amidst account, and you send them to account numbers that had shown up in frauds before yes put them in boxes, and we got a russian speaking friend to translate a note for me that so hello criminal, I mean honestly, if it's very close, do hello criminal. I basically wrote like hi, I'm a reporter. I wanted to know how you have this account. How easy it was why you chose me east and also I was curious about where this package is going, so I put a gps devising please get in Dutch, it's over your badge image of freaked out criminals. Reading your note angrily, so we sent them out. So here is the web interface, I've got the password typed in scenario again, so yeah just pay.
Login and it'll? Tell you where all five of them are at the moment I met spy tech log in as exciting. Six hundred markedly street, they haven't left the reshaping place right. So I will tell you if they go somewhere after the break. The case goes international. This episode is brought to you by better for it a new podcast from HTTP hosted by Francesca Ramsay. We all make mistakes better, for it looks at how
stakes have shaped the lives and careers of visionaries and business leaders and helps them think differently about what their working for you'll hear from an entrepreneur who ventured out on his and so I went out. I took seven hundred dollars. I had in the bank, but my own pickup truck took some flyers business cards and Later I had a business and in aid our role breaker, whose learned why we all care about work in the first place, but you are proud of the work. You want to be able to tell your friends about it. You want to be able to feel like you're, making a different you'll hear how they work their way through their mistakes and came out better for him the non Spotify or wherever you get your pockets. Welcome back to the show. So it's been a week since we sent out the GPS devices and I've been checking in on them intermittently. And dumb. While I've got you in the studio, why don't we just take a look at how far they ve gotten
Gimme, just a second I'm in a log into the am the track insight, weird, ok, sir, how are we sent five five, the fifth, the third, the second and the first are all at me. And their batteries are all either lay dead, The ordinarily dead, the fourth package, on the other hand, made it all the way to the airport. I think that that package actually is gonna, get delivered the batteries at thirty percent. Unfortunately, that's not the package that was headed to bring his hacker, and on top of that, I think the batteries probably gonna die before it reaches its destination. So some person is going to see the thing that says: hey this was purchased of Irma hacked account here's a dead jpg
GPS or a stupid waste, a muddy. What is specifically through the toys that I've been money kindly I am you know that guy either totally yes, but I actually have some good NEWS, Natalia emailed me- and she gave me info on these specific hacker who stole Brean his watch and she gave me everything she gave me. His name is email address his phone number and his mailing address, whereas the address the addresses in the city in Russia called easy task. Asia lives easier Minsk. Each task is the home of the Kalashnikov, the Kalashnikov Rifle. Yes, it's a pretty big city there's about six hundred thousand. People. It is known as the electronic music capital of Russia really yeah. I feel your like trying. Music is big in Russia to Alison the Sarah type. I haven't really felt over my head. In my head, I was thinking like
very minimalist craft workers stuff, but you're, probably right you're, probably like India, music hot on you just electronic music. Do you wanna hear the sound of his ask yeah? Ok, this is from Eldar Space Healer, He was just rang. Accuse born each have binoculars an inner is car. Ok, the cycle of computers, the topics This is why, when I was imagining yes, I guess that Egypt yeah, the point is that, a hacker lives and what is our agrivaine? His name is Abdullah Maxine. A x I am like the magazine. It was Emma K S. I am, but I think that since its written in Cyrillic, originally their allotted different spellings, including like the magazine? Ok, I'm gonna see real lives.
Do it on Google it on Google Street. You are weird world. Will I found TAT, so here's a picture of it. It is a big. The sad it A big black apartment building like it looks like it looks like a familiar in the Russia scenes of the Americans type apartment building. So obviously we wanted to call this guy and to do that we brought an iron gun. Her I'd are reporting and actually clique, who also speaks russian and and she's great, and she came into the office, and the first thing she said to us was listen. Here's what I can tell you of delay, Maxine made up name. Why? Because Abdullah is like
Most generic like muslim sounding name and Maxine, is one of the most generic russian names man. Nor does it make to us. Ok, sir. His soul was like John Smith lives. Here Yanks effort was like it was like Hussein Baba, in the the same. It was first names ah so actually took all the information at least gave us the phone number that physical address and she just its searching online and eventually she found some accounts that were connected to the phone number and they were associated with this guy named Nikita Nikita yeah. Ok, not Abdullah Maxim Nikita also. Sadly, it could be just like a made up generic russian name sure, but is that no its not? And we know that because we called him, I know a lot of innovation.
Have we not keep them from the many other would actually using your gazing area, so actually told us that he was super, Palais and Sweet and when she asked him, if he ever use this company called me to believe he was. I know you don't want to go to work out a little joke but work their way back to them. What are you sure, Isn't it doesnt have an account with missed me? They don't work with EAST wait. If it did doesnt work with me, then why was this phone number on exactly as they gave your number and your phone number and your account number that's. Why recalling you look, I don't know why. But Nikita had a theory. He told Ashley that back in March someone hacked is bank account and email and he thought that maybe someone was using his identity on east and his best guess was that it was someone in Ukraine. I said our unique asks
in Tunisia has ignored dont, even linear age ass. I live in a town that many kilometres away, and I said The Lebanese at an orange burg noticed closely watched the world could even money. You said I'm seventeen I dont go to school. My mom cleans floors, my hospital reassume deuterium, I'm trying to get work, cutting would in the forest because apparently there's a lot of forests around there about it here, and after about a minute, or so he told us that he had to go so after they got off the phone. Ashley relate to us everything that he said and we just sat my studio sorted through it, try to figure out whether is telling us the truth or not. I don't blame him when you think I believe them. You trust him interesting. I don't believe I did until the forest, we just felt like he was laying it on to think the only thing I'll say invariably may be telling the truth. I mean first, like you just don't know by it. You are him and need our scammer. You could just hand to the phone too
I mean like you, don't necessarily need to tell a story right, so we call them back on your graveyard and keep their bob and actually said. Can you prove to us that you are hacked recently? You said your email Address was hacked. How, then, can you give us your email address? What mail that rule. Ellie yeah yeah Vandam To my email, you you're the only person sport, and he said: oh, I dont remember it. Ok if at the end and she said: how can you not remember it into the hacker seals memory? Nipple, nicest email id for reforming almost any other way almost got away. We said: can you give us your ear?
I'll address. He said, there's very little internet in Russia. It's very hard for me to remember stuff like that cuz. I don't use the internet very much. I just have it saved into my browser that is not credible, and then we said okay, so you know we're not the police supporters, but we're gonna send someone to this address and we're gonna ask for you and see if people? No, no, you, ok, his response was to say, like when are you gonna send someone is gonna. Be tonight is going to be tomorrow? Are you gonna send the police? Is it can be you that's coming in this a person who just a moment go claimed. They'd, never heard his address. They live four hundred miles away. Yeah so actually says to look. We want the watch and he says I don't have the watch and so actually says. Fine only wants an apology, and he says. Well, if you find the hacker who has the watch tell em. I want an apology to an eventual
it just wasn't going anywhere, so we had a sharp followed by further the sitting. We got off the phone with him and we actually found his facebook page her really. Yes, why we found a facebook page also associated with that number, yes, and also with the fault Nikita full name as you, where you have a lot to learn from our future. Let me just show you: let me show you, let me say a perfectly cut the tibetan anonymous mask. Oh, what a dork. You ve got an anonymous mask. That's like actually in plastic. Packaging linkages prior to his patent. Is anonymous mask yet so at this point I thought it was time to just call greener and let her know everything we ve found out. Haze breeder yeah has gone.
How are you I was super excited to tell bring about everything that I discovered because, like I knew everything about this guy, I knew everything about where her watch had been under the name of the person who taken it. I knew the fun destination of it. So I'm curious, given all of this information, how you're feeling right now on a kind of bomb that way by guy. Well, then my watch battery when, like apologize anything by it, I guess they highlight relieved that led me to make a big happier company or anything. Read. By still awake bonds me out, a lottery apparent could make a good source of someone. You actually really wanted now watch, but instead it was given to a guy from three would have even deserve it. Do you feel dissolve
I felt like a conquering hero manage to figure out all of this stuff, but then I guess I didn't think for like two seconds. Then the thing than eighty come back with was the one, She was yeah, but what you did say was she was like you know. I mean now that we have all the info, it maybe I'll go to the local police in each ask and see if I can get the scoundrel really yeah. She's, just gonna call me jobs pv if it weren't for her pet. She would have driven this, like where's my watch. It doesn't seem like readers really afraid of anything
reply always hosted by PDA vote And me Alex Goldman. The show is produced by a shriek contaminating the abandoned and damietta marketing. Our editors are TIM Howard and Jorge Joseph protectionist system from sharing all we're mixed by requiring special thanks this week Brandon, Garcia, Bobby, beaten, Vitaly Premise, Yelena botch, Go Julia Meter, ruinous convict Emily Kennedy, Efron DIA Gregg Climate and a huge extra special thanks to Dalia Wilson and Denis vetches Matt Labour is a potluck dinner at a picnic table in the shade on a balmy fellow gimlet part, asked science versus just released the last up so that their season and on it features me and PJ's Talking about our addiction to artificial sweeteners, you should check it out and you
check out their entire Catalan that science verses? You can get it wherever you go back ass, a theme music. The mysterious break, master cylinder are add: music is by build buildings. This The plate us out at the end of the episode is simplicity by MAC Reform, also known as the greatest hold music in the world. Reply. All is now available on Spotify go check it out. Also listen to the show on Google play apple podcast or wherever you get. Your bike asked thanks for listening and will see in two weeks Bristol, there was? No internet plan is disposed of an international mortal somewhere a piano saying in a greener. We think it my control,
we're just snatcher our work here is a cabbage. What did she do? Ok, let me try to see a baby. I would like an egg how about a decaf, you wanna see you're dead, then
Actually I was my dad well. This is thoroughly entertaining and useless, which must know how I feel about the universe anyway, You know what I really want right now is just a phone cancel that on a keyboard, though, just give it a try. Well I'll, be damned.
Transcript generated on 2020-02-13.