Buying, selling and online sales scams
For sale advertisements in newspapers and on websites have become a fertile hunting ground for scammers.
Scammers are advertising non-existent goods, hoping to use their so-called bargain to fleece you of your hard-earned money.
They are advertising anything from puppies to boats, cars and car parts to concert tickets, sometimes masquerading as Australians to lull you into a false sense of security.
A typical example is the “Puppy for Sale” scam. The scammers advertise the puppy in a newspaper or a website, listing a telephone number and email address as a contact point. The telephone number is fake so you are forced to use the email.
The puppy needs to be shipped to you because it is located in a regional town, interstate or overseas. The scammer asks that the money be wired or even transferred to a bank account. You send the money, but the puppy never arrives.
Sometimes scammers hijack other people’s advertisements and online seller or feedback profiles to fool you into believing they are a legitimate and reputable seller. If you do get conned, notify the website operators immediately so they can remove the advertisement.
Sometimes the scammers ask you to transfer the money through a secure payment system. However, the site they refer you to is fake or a copycat site.
Buying something sight unseen from strangers is always risky – particularly over the Internet.
Always try to verify whom you are dealing with and to get someone independent to inspect the goods. For example, if you are buying a car then pay for an independent inspection by a mechanic.
When buying from a commercial shopping website, make sure it is a legitimate business and is a secure site. Scammers have been known to establish false sites. Independently verify that the supplier is a legitimate business with the correct address and phone number. Check that there is adequate information about privacy, terms and conditions of use, dispute resolution and contact details.
Selling to strangers online can also be risky. Scammers have been known to use fake cheques, money orders and stolen credit cards. See our section on overpayment scams.
Scammers are advertising non-existent goods in newspapers and on websites, hoping to use their so-called bargain to entice you into sending them money.
Always try and buy locally.
Be aware that scammers masquerade as locals by hijacking other people’s advertisements and online seller profiles; or by including fake Australian telephone numbers or addresses.
If buying through an online auction or commercial website, read their fraud prevention section for tips on protecting yourself.
Get someone independent to check the goods before handing over money.
Do not give your credit card or bank account details to strangers;
Do not wire transfer money to strangers – it is almost impossible to track the money.
Use secure payment systems. Be aware that scammers sometimes refer you to fake look-alike websites.
Be wary of “too good to be true” offers or bargains. A cheap price is often used to lure victims in to a scam.
If using a shopping website, make sure the business is legitimate and the site is secure. Independently verify their street address and check that there is adequate information about privacy, terms and conditions of use, dispute resolution and contact details.
Rely on your instincts. If something sounds fishy, don’t fall for the bait. Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!
If you do discover a fake advertisement on an auction or commercial website, contact the site immediately so they can pull the advertisement.
Watch out for overpayment scams. Click here to find out more.
Online free trial offers
Whether it’s a sponsored post in your social media feed or a pop up advertisement while you’re browsing the web, offers of ‘free trials’ or ‘samples’ are a common sight for internet users. WA ScamNet warns online consumers to be aware of the fine print when accepting a so called free trial.
West Perth man arrested for a series of real estate fraud offences
Perth City Detectives have arrested a West Perth man for a series of offences, whereby he allegedly recieved security bonds and advance rent for properties he had no authority to rent, targeting mostly international victims. Anyone who has concerns or knowledge regarding this man is asked to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Kitten and puppy scams
Don’t let kitten scammers get their claws into your money. It’s a new version of the age-old puppy scam. Scammers advertise a puppy or kitten for sale in the classifieds either in newspapers or online, usually providing an email address as a contact point. The animal being advertised is often a popular breed and the asking price is lower than the market value. The seller requests that payment for a crate and shipping of the kitten or puppy be sent by wire transfer. Sadly the animal never arrives and Consumer Protection has received reports of monetary loss from many heartbroken would-be pet owners.
Online auction and shopping scams
It is possible to buy almost anything over the internet these days. Unfortunately, scammers can use the anonymous nature of the internet to rip off unsuspecting shoppers. Scammers can pretend to be selling a product—often very cheaply—just so they can steal your credit card or bank account details. Similarly, they may take your money but send you a faulty or worthless product instead—or even nothing at all.
Credit card scams
A credit card scam can come in many forms. For example, scammers may use spyware or some other scam to obtain your credit card details. A scammer might steal or trick you into telling them your security code (the three or four digit code on your card) and then make purchases over the internet or the telephone. If they know your PIN, they could get cash advances from an ATM using a ‘cloned’ credit card (where your details have been copied onto the magnetic strip of another card).
Misuse of Ukash by scammers
WA ScamNet has been warning consumers about the dangers of wire transfer since the scam warning website was originally launched back in 2002. Up until now the predominant service misused during scams targeting Australians has been Western Union. However several recent reports (July 2011-March 2012) received by Consumer Protection and investigated by WA ScamNet have involved a service called Ukash.
Event Ticketing Scams
International sporting events and concerts featuring international artists bring scammers from around the world out of the woodwork attempting to profit from the excitement surrounding major events. Bogus ticket sellers, sometimes offering travel/accommodation packages as well, have caught many sporting and music fans in their web of deception.
Online car sales scam (buyer)
Online car sellers are being targeted in an elaborate scam involving bogus buyers and fake PayPal transactions. Car sellers who placed classified advertisements with legitimate car sales sites have been approached by overseas buyers who, at first, appeared genuine. Sellers of motorbikes, caravans, trailers and even horse floats have also been targeted.