I need of money (due to lack of employment and necessities) and wouldn’t normally consider this. A trusted friend has told me he has a business connection who needs legal documents delivered to another country. They say it’s so important they don’t trust a company, like Purolator or FedEx to get it done. They are willing to pay for my flight upfront and will pay me once I bring them the receipt of delivery. I’m skeptical. I’d be bringing this sealed document into another country, and asked and they said I can’t see inside but can hold a flash light up to it. Is there any other precautions I can take to make sure it doesn’t contain anything illegal like drugs?

Apparently it’s for a legitimate business (I looked them up) but the contact used sent me an email through Gmail, which makes me suspicious. EDIT: I was mistaken, I'm not sure if I can find them online as they have a name that is very similar to other companies. Also they now say I can look inside the parcel. Also they advise me to take Uber which someone pointed out is suspicious as it's unmarked. Also they said I'm supposed to act like I don't know what's in the package upon delivery. Again, I normally wouldn't give this a second thought if I didn't trust my friend so well, who swears up and down he doesn't see any red flags about this...makes me question my friendship :(

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    Sounds very dodgy, if it's so important that they can't trust an external company, why can they trust some random guy recommended as a friend of a business connection? Also, why can't they send one of their own employees? – Maybe_Factor May 10 '17 at 1:32
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    There are multiple specialized courier services for this, who know much better how to safely handle it. A legitimate business should use those, for their own good, not friends of business connections. – skymningen May 10 '17 at 5:48
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    What's your workplace-related question? We don't really cover questions of this nature on the site. It might be appropriate on Travel or Personal Finance & Money. To judge whether a specific offer is on the level requires having all the facts of one specific situation which doesn't make for good Q&A. – Lilienthal May 10 '17 at 8:07
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    @JoeStrazzere I know some may think you're joking, but that's actually what I would do. The other thing I might consider in addition to that is calling a lawyer first so they can arrange ahead of time so nobody decides to arrest him and they know he's just making sure he's not being asked to smuggle something. I'm sure they'd love the chance at busting something up. – Chris E May 10 '17 at 15:11
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it has nothing to do with navigating the workplace. – Masked Man May 10 '17 at 16:13

The best way to protect against a scam is to walk away from the start. It doesn't matter what they're trying to pull here, it screams "suspicious" and you just should not get involved. It might even be that the documents are legit this time, and they're just hoping to lull you into a false sense of security for a next time.

There is no reason why you, a person they don't know, would be more trustworthy than a reputable delivery company.

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    Last paragraph says it all. If you cannot trust FedEx, DHL etc it is most likely because you want to send something illegal. – Stian Yttervik May 10 '17 at 8:05

I'm going to quote from a great answer over on Money and Personal Finance, where a lot of questions about questionable schemes come up:

respond to your friend this way: "Either you are planning to do something illegal, in which case I don't want to be involved, or you are planning to do something legal, in which case you don't need me."

  • I was just thinking of the exact same quote :) – Steve-O May 10 '17 at 14:13

Even if it's not drugs it could be any number of import/export controlled items in which you will be held solely responsible for if caught. The company would never send it without an authorized courier which usually works for the company or a couriering/transport agency.

Check with import/export control on the regulations for the country of origin as well as the destination country and any country you pass through customs with. Once you have a list you can ask the right questions to the company and also get disclosures of what it is exactly without the details (perishables/proprietary documents/machinery/etc...). There should be a manifest provided with any delivery as well which should catalog the contents in order to provide to customs. Intellectual property is export controlled as well, so even if it's just documents it has to be exported/imported properly.

The fact they aren't including anything like the above paragraph sounds like illegal activity and you are the fall guy should it not work out. The fact they are willing to pay for air fare is also a sign of the ROI(return on investment) benefit they receive should it succeed. Also, if they are that secretive and it does happen to be illegal then you finding out what it really is makes you a liability. Best to not do anything without fully knowing what you are actually getting involved with.

If it's legit and they just don't know, then doing the export/import research and bringing it up will only help them avoid confiscation and prosecution down the road. It's your life and choice though, so choose wisely.

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    It might not even be illegal in its own right but could have information about illegal activities that they wouldn't want falling into official hands. I can think of a lot of things a criminal enterprise might want to transport that in itself isn't illegal but as part of a larger investigation could substantiate crimes or even potentially terrorist or subversive activities. Transporting classified information for example. He may be smuggling state secrets for all he knows. – Chris E May 10 '17 at 15:16

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