Millennials caught by online scams
MILLENIALS are most at risk from being scammed while shopping online, with Gumtree and Facebook among the most popular sites used by fake advertising fraudsters.
New figures from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission show that 18-34 year olds report losses from scams more than any other age group.
Online shopping scam losses reported to the ACCC jumped 138 per cent last year to $3.3 million, and more than $1.6 million has already been lost in the first four months of this year.
Some scammers set up full fake retailer websites that look like genuine sites, while others sell via fake ads on legitimate websites such as eBay and Instagram.
Charlotte Rasmussen, 29, lost $500 to a scam shopping on Gumtree for a puppy.
Mrs Rasmussen said she was fooled as there were photos of a lady with a litter of pugs and photos of individual pugs customers could choose from.
"The website was sophisticated," she said. "They even gave us a tracking number. I realised something wasn't right when the pug didn't arrive on delivery day, I was only contacted via email after payment and the seller kept asking for money to pay for the puppy 'stuck' in customs."
Mrs Rasmussen said she had sent money to the scammer using Western Union. "I transferred money to the scammer in Africa where he said his wife needed the cash".
Gumtree communications Adviser Elleny Kourtis said transactions should always be made face-to-face and you should never send money to strangers.
"If you are buying a pet on Gumtree you should always read the RSPCA's Smart Buyer Guides, be wary of sellers demanding deposits before meeting, visit the breeder and sight vet, vaccination and microchip history before committing," she said.
Lisa Du, director of computer training company ReadyTechGo, said Millennials were often easy targets.
"They can be more prone to click-bait as they quickly click stuff away to get to where they really want to go," she said.
Social media giant Facebook says it removed 800 million fake accounts in the last half of 2018.
A Facebook Australia spokesman said scam enforcement could never be perfect so people should be aware of what "scammy" behaviour looked like.
Vincent Liew, 23, was scrolling though his personal Facebook feed when he noticed clickbait for RM Williams advertised for $250 lower than retail price.
"I had been searching online for RMs and the next day when I went on Facebook it was like the scammers knew what I wanted," he said.
The Facebook spokesman said before clicking on adverts on Facebook you should ask yourself if it was a company you know.
"First check out its Facebook page - read the comments section, view the creation date of the page, browse the domain name and if there are spelling errors," he said.
"Check how clearly the business presents products, look at photo clarity and for clothing see if they provide product dimensions".
Fraud Watch is presented in partnership with the Commonwealth Bank. If you have a scams story, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more, head to fraudwatch.com.au.
BEWARE OF SCAM ADS
• Is the price too good to be true? Do a price comparison across other websites.
• Check for clear shipping costs, delivery times, and tracking information.
• Is it clear where the product is shipping from?
• Check customer commitments. Clear policies, free returns, contact information and no restocking fees are good signs.
Source: Facebook Australia