Credit card fraud and the mystery of the Gevalia coffee

gevalia-freebiesI was surprised to find a huge package sitting on my front porch last week. I hadn’t ordered anything, so I figured it must be a gift, even though it was too late for my birthday and too early for Christmas.

Inside was an assortment of coffee, a travel mug, a stainless steel carafe and a fancy 12-cup coffee maker, all from a company called Gevalia. Whoever sent this, I thought, doesn’t know me very well. I like coffee, but I’m not the kind of gourmet who would appreciate this sort of high-end beverage. (I’m more the Dunkin’ Donuts type.) Then I looked at the packing slip, which said that I had ordered it and paid with my Visa card.

Uh-oh. I sat for a couple of minutes, trying to figure out if there was any way that I could’ve inadvertently placed such an order. Then I called the company and explained what happened. Mysteriously, someone had used my name, address and Visa number (she verified it by reading me the last four digits) to place the order. But they had a different phone and different e-mail address, which she gave to me. She also noted the exact time of the order, which was while I was driving to see my son at college. She said she’d put a fraud alert on the order and told me to keep the goods for my trouble.

I then called the phone number that was associated with the order. It was a non-profit organization a couple of miles away from me. When I told the receptionist that someone was using their phone number in a case of credit-card fraud, she mentioned that she’d had several calls like this. She didn’t know what was going on.

I was tempted to send an e-mail to the address I had, but I thought that then the thief would have my e-mail address.

My next call was to Visa to find out what else might have been charged to the card. Luckily, there were no other charges. We immediately cancelled the card, Visa placed a fraud alert on the number, and I was issued a new one.

The whole incident baffled me. Although I was concerned that someone somehow got hold of my credit card information, I was not that surprised. I take reasonable precautions, both online and off (I shred all my mail), but I’ve done enough reporting on Internet security to know how easy it is for thieves to get your number. And even if you never use a credit card online, your financial institution keeps all that information on a computer somewhere, a computer that can often be just as easily hacked.

What baffled me the most: who was this person who would use my credit card to order coffee and send it to my house? I imagined some teenage hacker-in-training, just trying out his skills to see if he could get away with it. Or maybe it was someone in my neighborhood who pulled my information off my WiFi network, ordered coffee and hoped to pick it up from my doorstep before I noticed?

Then I did a little research online and found that this has been an ongoing problem with Gevalia, dating back to 2008. There is a formal complaint lodged with the Justice Department in the state of Delaware, where Gevalia is located.

Now I’m doubly baffled. Why would a merchant do this? Are they hoping that some of us actually think we ordered the coffee but forgot? And how did Gevalia, with whom I’ve never done business, get my credit card information? I’ll never know. But I consider myself exceedingly lucky that my only experience with credit card fraud (so far) cost me nothing but a couple of phone calls and gained me some cool coffee paraphernalia.

2016-12-17T02:03:29+00:00 Musings|

20 Comments

  1. Ryan December 7, 2010 at 11:06 pm - Reply

    This happened to me today. The exact same facts. I called and “canceled” and they told me they would refund the money. I am absolutely dumbfounded as to how they got a hold of my Visa number.

    Did you keep the coffee? Did you get the charges reversed and the money refunded? They only charged me $28 and some change, but I’ll be darned if I am going to let them get away with this.

    Please update you entry to let readers know if you were refunded the money.

  2. Tam Harbert December 8, 2010 at 9:06 am - Reply

    Ryan – Thanks for your post. When I called Gevalia to explain, they immediately said they would refund my money, and they told me to keep the coffee. My next call was to my credit-card issuer, who cancelled my card and issued me another. They also put a fraud alert on my account, so now whenever I make a large purchase with that card, they call or text me first to confirm.

  3. Elisabeth December 29, 2010 at 6:38 pm - Reply

    This happened to me, too. They actually had my name, credit card number, address, and e-mail address. I had received an e-mail saying that my order has shipped. I thought it was spam, but I checked, anyway. Because I thought it was spam, I didn’t click any links in the e-mail, but called the company directly. Sure enough, there was a membership placed in my name with all of my information, including my credit card. It happened to be ordered with a card I only use for emergencies and it is seldom used and only by me. I had it in my possession. How they got that information is beyond me. I am allergic to coffee and would never order from them, and their free coffee maker is useless to me.

    Anyway, the other odd thing is that the order was for a selection of teas, not coffee, though it included a coffee maker and coffee mug. Gevalia has sent me spam for years and I have a personal rule to never patronize companies that send me spam or waste my time with telemarketing. When on the phone with the manager I asked if somehow it was done through one of their partners, some 3rd party company. He assured me that even if the order was through a partner, it would be clear that it was for Gevalia and not some scam with fine print. I don’t know. I don’t trust them, especially after reading that this has happened to so many others.

    I canceled my card and alerted the bank of the fraudulent charges.

  4. Maurie January 5, 2011 at 9:02 pm - Reply

    Tam,

    I happened upon your website after I experienced the exact same problem that you did this past week. Reading your post was like deja vu. Actually my bank contacted me after noticing suspicious activity in regard to my debit card. I talked to them and confirmed that I had not made the purchase and they immediately canceled my card and refunded the fraudulent charges to my account. I thought everything was OK until I came home and found the the same box that you did on my front stoop. I re-contacted my bank to make sure everything was still OK and I then contacted Gevalia, but what led me to your site was when I did the Google search on Gevalia and “Gevalia scam” came up as one of the automatic search options in my search window. I was a little concerned after I called Gevalia and they told me to keep the items in the order although I didn’t place the order myself and my bank had canceled the illegal card that was used to place the order. ‘m happy my bank is so diligent with it’s security efforts, but the fact that I have no idea how this company got my information and was able to do so with what seems to be relative ease has me concerned and feeling really uneasy. Thanks for sharing your experience. Hopefully somehow, someway we will eventually get some vindication with this matter.

  5. Maurie January 5, 2011 at 9:09 pm - Reply

    Oh,
    I forgot to explain that I have no idea how my information was stolen either. That is what is bothering me the most. There were other items purchased with my card in addition to the Gevalia coffee and at least one of those companies appeared in the Google automatic search window under scam when I was searching for contact info on them as well. This is really frustrating.

  6. Tam Harbert January 5, 2011 at 9:54 pm - Reply

    Yes, the idea that they somehow got my credit card number – and this was a credit card I’ve been using, both online and off, for 15 years – continues to worry me. I was lucky, I guess, in that there were no other fraudulent charges made with the card number.

  7. Michael February 16, 2011 at 4:38 pm - Reply

    Just had a Gevalia mystery box dumped at my front door. My visa debit card was hit with a bunch of fraudulent charges the week before. Check the timeline: Gevalia Invoice date Feb 11th. Date of all the fraudulent charges: Feb 14th.

    Gevalia had my card info first. It’s obviously a front for an organized id theft ring. They run a transaction for $10 worth of cheap crap. They stand to make hundreds disseminating your valid credit card info to a black market network.

    I wouldn’t recommend calling Gevalia. I called my bank’s fraud department and then put a fraud alert on my credit report. Are you guys sure you want to use the coffee & junk they send you? I bet the coffee maker & mug are full of lead and the coffee is cut with dirt & mouse droppings.

    Thanks for letting me vent 😛

  8. Tom March 3, 2011 at 8:19 pm - Reply

    Same thing happened to me today, only in addition to the Gevalia box there was also a box from Tassimo, who coincidentally happens to have an identical invoice to Gevalia. The customer service person said that the email used was jaquandolyn09@yahoo.com, which is NOT my email, but then told me the last four numbers of my credit card, which I will be canceling immediately.

  9. Sarah March 4, 2011 at 4:36 pm - Reply

    I just had this happen to me today. After reading a lot about Gevalia, I didn’t even bother calling them. I called my bank and canceled my card and am disputing the charge. I also called UPS to pick up the box and return it to sender.

    Ugh.

  10. Kara March 8, 2011 at 12:58 pm - Reply

    I got a box from Tassimo yesterday and a box from Gevalia today. Tassimo charged me 113.00 and Gevalia 29.00!! Where did they get my info?! Closed my card, Gevalia said to keep the stuff, Tassimo said they are “honoring” my dispute and will refund my money once I return their stuff. I can’t believe the gall of these people! They’ve caused me alot of grief, hassle, and frustration!

  11. Joe March 8, 2011 at 5:05 pm - Reply

    Wild. While balancing check book this am I noticed a pending charge for Gevalia as well as Real? Asked my partner if he used the card for these and what it was, his answer was no. So I started with a call to our bank to find out what the charges were and who made when. Findings,got the 800 # to Gevalia, of course they apologized and will be crediting back the acct, same as the above cases. They had home address last 4 credit card # and a different email: leekkhxh@yahoo.com. Interesting that this has happened to this company for so many years, not happy and trying to find out more.

  12. Dave March 8, 2011 at 11:19 pm - Reply

    Just happened to me today. I asked as many questions as I could about how and who ordered this. I was told they didn’t have any of that information. They were very quick to say they will cancel the membership and refund the money. Not like most other monthly clubs, which try to pressure people into trying just one more month.
    The common theme is somehow they mysteriously obtained our credit card info and used it to enroll us. How they obtained the cc info bothers me the most. My invoice says I was enrolled on 2/24 but my card wasn’t charged until yesterday (3/7). I can’t find any other fraudulent charges on my card, yet.

  13. Jake March 10, 2011 at 6:52 pm - Reply

    I was contacted by my credit card company about some possible fraudulant charges. The CC Company said I had a charge of one dollar and some change and then a charge for twenty some odd dollars to the Gevelia Coffee Company. I advised my CC company I never placed such an order from Gevelia. My CC company closed my account and issued me a new card. I have no idea how Gevelia obtaioned my CC info. MY wife just called me and said there was a box for me and went to the P.O. it pick it up. She refused the box.

  14. Amy March 13, 2011 at 10:00 pm - Reply

    Thank you for posting this. I also found a small group on Facebook wall that had been hit by the same fraud. Search Tassimo Fraud. I had both a Gevalia, a new Tassimo Coffeemaker, subscription to Sports Illustrated and a case of wine all delivered to my house… so the highjacking of card info charged to vendors is larger. How they got my credit card, phone number and address is a complete mystery. Thankfully my credit card company reversed the charges and issued a new card. This is not an isolated event.

  15. Helen March 22, 2011 at 5:33 pm - Reply

    This just happened to me. Awesome. The lovely Tassimo customer service rep told me that they would remove my charges once I return the coffee maker using the prepaid shipping label they were about to send me. It took about one word of protest for her to say that the charges would be removed after 2-3 days no matter what, but I would still need to return the box. So they want me to return the coffee maker so they can re-use it to scam someone else? I don’t think so.

    Funny side note: When I asked the guy at my CC company if he had seen other cases of the Gevalia/Tassimo scam, he said, “Oh yeah” and chuckled… but didn’t elaborate. Now I’m very curious…

  16. Mary April 10, 2011 at 9:47 pm - Reply

    The same thing happened to me a couple of days ago. I found a large box on my doorstep with a coffeepot and coffee. The invoice indicated that my credit card was going to be charged $119. When I called the company it seemed like I was talking with someone in India who could not tell me how they had my credit card information. In fact when I told her it seemed like fraud she seemed to almost read a scripted statement about contacting my local authorities. I called my credit card company and I had two charges pending for Tassimo, $119 and $168.

    How did this company get my credit card information?! This is scary!

  17. Jon April 10, 2011 at 11:10 pm - Reply

    Yeah this is complete bull. I got the dang package at my house but I have a bunch of siblings that also receive mail and packages there too. I don’t drink coffee so I saw the package and ignored it, as did everyone else in my fam. I recognized the name however as I was reviewing bank statements and realized that the package had been charged to my debit card. I went and found the box and it didn’t even have my name on it. I have no idea how they got my debit card and address but had a name I’d never heard of (Christopher Wiley–sound familiar anyone?)…I’m kind of relieved and also dang ticked that so many others have had similar experiences. What a load of crap! Boycot this ridiculous company, sheesh!

  18. Sandi April 26, 2011 at 12:14 pm - Reply

    I am so beyond incensed, I can’t see straight. That they can get away with doing this is insane. HOW? Why hasn’t some authority investigated this fraud and done something about it? It’s not a new scam… they’ve been doing this for years!

    4/17/11: Had a $119 charge from Tassimo pending on my debit card. After calling them, I was told that they couldn’t give me any info on HOW this order was placed (online? phone?), but they did verify my name, address and last 4 of my card. I was baffled, but had never heard of this issue before. She said she’d send me a return label, apologized for the problem and that my account would be credited when they got their machine back. Anything more than that, she said, and I’d have to contact my local authorities…

    …which I did. Finally. On 4/24, the stupid machine arrived. After the charge cleared and was debited from my account, I had an officer from the fraud department come over (THAT was weird!) and we talked about what could be done. Not much, essentially. Usually scammers will charge it to you, but have it delivered elsewhere, but since it was in my possession, I’m screwed. He gave me a pamphlet (Identity Theft: A Reference Guide for Victims) and went on his way.

    So yeah, the coffee pot arrived (I haven’t opened the box) and I’m waiting on a label to send it back. WHY SHOULD WE HAVE TO DO THIS? If it was a one-off, I can see. But this is a SCAM! We should consider them gifts!

  19. Dawna June 24, 2011 at 12:16 pm - Reply

    My story is the opposite. I have a Tassimo that I dearly love and so I signed up for the Direct Delivery option. My credit card was compromised two weeks later. New card arrived. Not knowing any better I updated the Direct Delivery payment information and yesterday I got another phone call from my credit union saying my new card had been compromised. Only place I had used my brand new card was on the Tassimo Direct Delivery site….grrr….anyone else?

  20. Kevin Ka March 4, 2013 at 12:28 am - Reply

    I too had my credit card charged. A few days before I went to the Tassimo website and ordered a whole bunch of coffee and tea. Two days later my bank is calling me saying that a charge fo $3.10 was charged to my card. Then a few hours later a charge of $269.99 was charged to my card.
    The interesting part of it was the $3.10 charge came from Honduras.

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