Shopping scams rise 65 per cent

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More than half the Australian population now shop online, so it comes as no surprise that fraudsters have ramped up their online operations. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) recently reported a 65 per cent rise in online shopping scams with more than 8000 victims last year reporting losses of over $4 million last year.

ACCC deputy chairwoman, Delia Rickard, believes that there are many more Australians shopping online who were scammed last year, but were too embarrassed to report the crime. Others may not have felt that the amount they lost warranted reporting the crime to the police.

In an interview with TheAge newspaper, Sergeant Peter Endler of the Victorian Fraud Squad admitted that the police only deal with the most serious cases. Mr Endler also mentioned that police could only prosecute a fraud which had taken place within their state and that an internet crime is deemed to have taken place where the fraudster is located, which causes all kinds of problems tracking down and charging international fraudsters.

However, the majority of Australians caught up in shopping scams last year, who used their credit card for the transaction, would have been able to get their money back.

Read more from the ACCC.
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Opinion: Australians are easy targets

The statistics don’t lie. Australians were scammed a total of $93 million last year through various “schemes”. The top three types of online fraud were Advanced Fee Fraud, dating and romance scams and online auction and shopping scams which netted fraudsters $57 million.

The stand out from this list is the Advanced Fee Fraud, which involves a person being called or emailed about a large amount of money they are supposably entitled to. The scammer claims that they are holding this money for the victim but a small fee needs to be paid to cover the taxes of the transfer or simply a set amount as agent commission to release the sum of money. The person transfers the money via the method specified by the scammer, which is usually untraceable, then never hears from the scammer again nor receives any money.

The majority of us laugh off these types of scams when we receive them in our inboxes, but the statistics suggest that someone we know, a friend or family member, was defrauded by one of these types of scams in the past five years.

Education is the only way we can prevent these types of scams from happening and it is up to all of us, not the government, to inform our friends of old and new scams which they could fall foul.

Do you share information of the latest scams with your friends? Do you report scams to the ACCC run website, SCAMwatch?

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Written by Drew

Starting out as a week of work experience in 2005 while studying his Bachelor of Business at Swinburne University, Drew has never left his post and has been with the company ever since, working on the websites digital needs. Drew has a passion for all things technology which is only rivalled for his love of all things sport (watching, not playing).


Total Comments: 9
  1. 0

    I have a huge 20 page, double-sided ‘hand-out’ that I keep at the counter to give to the public who comes in to our Police Beat. It covers just about every SCAM I could locate and I add to it. I have a sign on the door to encourage people to come in and ask for a copy. It is DOUBLY important that the oldies are enlightened about their ‘fellow man.’ They are just too trusting.

  2. 0

    I do my best to share information on my blog, especially after a friend was a mouse click away from being caught. Her son happened to come home from work early and overheard the conversation and took the phone from her. Saved by a whisker!

  3. 0

    The shopping scams against seniors are on the rise because we are easy targets : for being alone in the house and without witness or support.
    I had installed in my kitchen a cook-top brand I did not asked for and is unsuitable for my age,requiring bending to substitute a battery,extra effort to push two buttons at the same time for the ignition to take place. I asked for a replacement and two men came to my house insisting I had to keep the cook top, not taking any notice of me. I find it very intimidating because I live alone ,I am a new Australian ,I am old and not well.They went away promising to look into the matter but they never came back.This is from people I thought I could trust because sent by a major gas provider.You cannot trust anyone to do their job right the first time or ask for the right money.It is very humiliating and aggravating.

    • 0

      Rose, you should ring the Ombudsman or consumer affairs in your state to find your rights. If a major provider sent these people also ring that provider and complain about your situation.

  4. 0

    When I get the Advanced Fee Fraud e-mails I reply and tell them my residential details are in the White Pages and if they have a check (Americanism) for me, POST IT! Then I will present it at my bank. The spelling of cheque (check) should also ring alarm bells. NEVER EVER GIVE THEM ANY OF YOUR PERSONAL OR BANKING DETAILS.

  5. 0

    Thought this was a bit ironic. Under an article telling us how Australians are easy targets for scammers there is an ad for a site to download driver updates with “recommended” in red above it. If you download and run it, you do not see any mention of a cost, until they have had the chance to tell you that you have x things wrong with your computer but you must register and pay x amount to get the fix. That in my view is a scam aided by this site.
    Yes we are a dumb lot.

    • 0

      Hi Dan,

      Are you able to look in your history for the site address for me? This would have been an advert by Google, the largest advertising network in the world. If you can share the address, I can look into the ad and remove it from being shown on our website and report it.


  6. 0

    Sorry Drew,
    A little while back I was having trouble with the speed of my internet. A telstra tech wiped my history amongst other things to try to improve the speed. As part of the same problem I downloaded the program in the ad to see if my drivers needed updating. When I found that they were not upfront with their fees, I uninstalled the program. Actually I found that the fault was in the telephone line connections which had become corroded with age. I now have reasonable speed again.

  7. 0

    Thanks for the valuable information, it will help in doing the safe online shopping transaction. We also offer the technical support for the Bigpond webmail services @ toll-free number 1800-021-482.



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