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False billing

False billing scams request you or your business to pay fake invoices for directory listings, advertising, domain name renewals or office supplies that you did not order.

How this scam works

Your business might be sent an invoice, letter or invitation to be listed in a bogus trade directory or to renew your website domain name. Or the scammer might phone you out of the blue to confirm details of an advertisement booking or insist you've ordered certain goods or services. These scams take advantage of the fact the person handling the administrative duties for the business may not know whether any advertising or promotional activities have actually been requested.

Fake directories and advertising

Fake directory invitations will often include a form to be filled out and ask for your business contact details with an approval signature. You might be led to believe that you are responding to an offer for a free entry, but the form you are asked to complete is a disguised invoice or contract with the amount owed hidden in tiny print.

Alternatively, the scam might appear as a proposal for a subscription to a magazine or journal. These are often presented to look like those used by genuine directory publishers.

Another common method is for the scammer to phone a business asking to confirm details of an advertisement they claim has already been booked. The scammer might quote a genuine entry or advertisement your business has had in a different publication or directory to convince you that you really did use the scammer’s product.

If you refuse to pay, the scammers might try to intimidate you by threatening legal action.

Domain name renewal scams

Australian website domain names are registered with accredited domain name registrars and resellers, and must be renewed every couple of years. All registrars and resellers of .au domains in Australia are accredited through the industry self-regulatory body .au Domain Administrator (auDA(link is external)).

Domain name renewal scams can work in different ways. You may be sent an invoice requesting payment for a domain name that is very similar to your current domain name – the scammer hopes that you don’t notice the difference and just pay the invoice. For example, it may end in ‘.net.au’ instead of ‘.com.au’ or the ‘.au’ at the end may be missing. It may even be for a domain name in another country, such as ‘.cn’ for a China web address.

Alternatively you could be sent a letter that looks like a renewal notice for your actual domain name, but it is from a different company to the one you have previously used to register your domain name.

The sender may claim that another company is seeking to register the same domain name, but they are giving you the brief opportunity to secure the name first. You will be told your chance to use the domain name will end if you do not pay immediately.

Payment redirection scams

Using information they have obtained by hacking your computer systems, a scammer posing as one of your regular suppliers will tell you that their banking details have changed. They may tell you they have recently changed banks, and may use stolen letterhead and branding to convince you they are legitimate.

They will provide you with a new bank account number and ask that all future payments are processed accordingly. The scam is often only detected when your regular supplier asks why they have not been paid.


List of Scams

  • gas-stove-1776648_1920
    Alinta fake bill

    We have a reported loss of $1350 in a phone scam where the caller pretended to be from Alinta Energy and threatened to cut off the power over an unpaid bill.

    Read More...
  • Telstra Bigpond logo
    Telstra fake refund scam

    Phishing emails are a dime a dozen but we thought this one which purports to come from Australian Internet service provider BigPond was worth a warning.

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  • AGL - Energy company email scam

     WA consumers are receiving scam emails claiming to be from AGL, an energy company not currently registered to supply or sell electricity and gas in Western Australia. 

    Read More...
  • Yellow Page Scam Blank
    Yellow Page directory scam returns

    WA businesses have been receiving bogus order forms and invoices for unauthorised directory listings and advertising from scammers mimicking the Yellow Pages name and logo.

    Read More...
  • Computer-dog
    ATO phishing emails

    WA ScamNet regularly receives reports about scam emails that claim to be from the Australian Tax Office (ATO).

    Usually the email’s offering a tax refund or it might be asking you to update your details.

    The body of the email will ask you to click a link – never do this as this is how the scammers will get your details.

    Read More...
  • A green leaf
    Carbon price scams

    WA ScamNet  is warning consumers and businesses to be on the look out for carbon price scams.

    Read More...
  •  The Fair Guide logo
    Construct Data trading as FairGuide

    If you’ve showcased your business at a trade show or exhibition lately – BEWARE!

    WA ScamNet has identified the re-emergence of ‘FairGuide’ - an on-line directory scheme targeting businesses that have recently taken part in trade shows around Australia.

    Read More...
  • Two first aid kits, one closed, one open
    Employment Protection Australia

    Hundreds of Western Australian businesses received official-looking letters threatening dire penalties for failing to have Employment Protection Australia's 'Place of Employment First Aid Supply.'  So what's the problem?

    Read More...
  • A laptop computer with an open CD drive (with a CD in it); the screen has an image of a mountain scene.
    Google Cash

    An offer of paid work for typing from your home computer can be very tempting, but beware – it could be another scam to actually take money from you!

    Read More...
  • The yellow pages open
    Industry and Commerce - Register of Business Information

    A European publishing company, first identified by WA ScamNet in 2006 continues to invite you to submit an ‘update’ of your business details for the Australian section of an international CD-ROM and Internet directory.

    Read More...
  • A pile of books one open on the top
    International Biographical Centre

    How much would you be willing to pay for the title of ’International Professional of the Year’?

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  • The yellow pages open
    Presidential Who's Who

    It doesn’t get much cheekier than this – an overseas directory listing scheme has tried to con WA’s Commissioner for Consumer Protection via email.

    Read More...
  • A pile of books one open on the top
    Princeton Premier.Com

    Targeting the Commissioner for Consumer Protection Anne Driscoll for an internet scam may not seem like the brightest idea, but then scammers are not often accused of being smart or honest.

    Read More...
  • mobile phone with a padlock on it
    Telstra fax scam

    Telstra has urged customers to ignore a hoax fax that resembles Telstra correspondence and asks customers to provide bank account details.

    Read More...
  • The yellow pages open
    Trademark Publishers

    You get a bill in the mail.  It looks genuine.  The Company’s name and logo are big and bold.  It has a Sydney postal address and Australian Bank account details.  It all looks right but you don’t recall your business placing an order and can’t find a record of it.  What to do?

    Read More...
  • A Map of Australia
    Who's Who in Australia Registry

    A scam that appeals to the professional ego is circulating by fax offering recipients a listing in the “Who’s Who among Executives, Professionals and Entrepreneurs in Australia.”

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  • The planet earth on a white background
    World Business Directory (WBD) and World Business Guide (WBG)

    Emails and letters to businesses have been circulating offering a listing in the “World Business Directory” and “World Business Guide” with Updating is free of charge! in bold.

    Read More...
  • Yellow page logo identical to the yellow pages one save for, the inverted fingers
    Yellow Page scheme

    A misleading fax has been turning up at business premises across WA. It’s for a $129 per month scheme run under the website www.yellowpage-westernaustralia.com

    Read More...

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