Online shoppers are being warned about a new scam targeting Aussies in the lead up to the Christmas holidays.
As millions of Australians turn to online stores to do their Christmas shopping, scammers are using the opportunity as a hunting ground for unsuspecting victims.
The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission is warning of fake websites and sellers who claim they have sent parcels for delivery.
“Scammers may pose as genuine sellers on classifieds websites. The scammer may claim they are travelling and an agent will deliver the goods once you have paid, but you won’t receive the goods and will be unable to contact the seller,” the ACCC warns.
“Scammers will set up fake online stores, on websites or social media, which can look like genuine online retailers. Many of these offer luxury items at very low prices but you may receive a fake item or nothing at all.”
Couple fooled by cheap barbecue
According to the ACCC, one couple were fooled by a “clever” website selling barbecues.
“Payment was via credit card with a 2.99 per cent fee, or direct transfer with a five per cent discount,” the couple said in a story posted to the ACCC website.
“Then we received an email saying that due to logistic emails our order was cancelled and being refunded.
“Not surprisingly, the money has not been refunded. Very clever approach, the first time I have been scammed.”
The signs this particular site was a scam were the cheap prices, it being a new website or seller and it encouraging the buyer to pay via a direct bank transfer by offering a discount.
The products scammers are attempting to sell
The ACCC says Aussies have lost more money to online shopping scams already this year compared to last year.
People have lost $4 million to online scams in 2019, $720,000 more than 2018.
“Scammers often try to take advantage of people doing their Christmas shopping including in the upcoming Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said in a statement.
“Reported losses have tripled over the last three years and it is concerning that losses from this year are already so high.”
Ms Rickard said the most common products scammers are claiming to sell this year are shoes, smartphones and tickets to events.
Losses from people thinking they are buying these products alone so far exceeds half a million dollars.
How to avoid being scammed
“Warning signs for online shopping scams include extremely low advertised prices and requests to pay through direct bank transfer or cryptocurrency,” Ms Rickard said.
“We encourage everyone to do their research before making an online purchase and if purchasing expensive goods, not to make payment until they have inspected the product.”
Ms Rickard said people should warn loved ones unaware of the scam to protect vulnerable customers over the Christmas holidays.
“Many people enjoy the convenience of online shopping but it is important to remember that there can be risks involved,” she said.
“If you do think you have been scammed, contact your bank as soon at possible.”
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