Someone Tried to Pay Rent With My Credit Card

Painful lessons learned from being duped by a phishing scheme.

Oren Cohen


Made by the author on Canva

It was a Tuesday morning when I received the message telling me I need to sign a DHL shipment. I’ve been doing some online shopping the previous days, and therefore I didn’t find it weird that I received a DHL shipment SMS.

Furthermore, that message arrived into the same thread I previously received real DHL notices on past shipments. Another valuable factor to lower my alarm.

So, thinking that because I’m in America and have shipped to an American address (my brother’s), I’m dealing with the English branch of DHL. I didn’t have any previous experience with DHL aside from Hebrew.

So I’m filling out the form, putting my credit card to pay 1.99 dollars, and then, before I can “confirm” the payment, I need to wait for an SMS that the credit card company will deliver to the phone number associated with my credit card.

That SMS never came.

I did have some problems receiving SMS over my Israeli phone number here in Austin, Texas, so I didn’t find it weird.

I told myself to figure it out later, and maybe I should call DHL, but I left it at that.

At this point, the hacker already had my credit card information.

Paying For Rent or a Hotel in Romania

The following morning, I received an email from my credit card company that a charge for 543 Euros was denied in Romania at a company that provides housing or rental services because of not enough credit. I’m not usually one to make such huge payments.

Also, I’m obviously not in Romania and have never paid for pretty much anything in Euros.

I realized I was hacked and proceeded with canceling the credit card as stolen. But I still couldn’t figure out how or why that hack happened. I still didn’t put two and two.

Circling Back to The DHL Scam

Trying to figure out where I put my credit card information yielded, circling back to that DHL message.