Savvy online shoppers looking to snag a bargain for big ticket items are being duped by scam websites using genuine business credentials.
NT Consumer Affairs is finding an increasing number of scam websites from proactive investigations and reports from experienced online shoppers who are being scammed by fraudulent websites.
Personal monetary losses totaling almost $907 000 have already been reported to
NT Consumer Affairs since November 2019.
Acting Commissioner Ms Sandy Otto said, “methods of deception are becoming much more sophisticated and scammers are stealing genuine ABNs to register domain names and set up websites.”
Regular online shoppers can normally spot scam sites due to the inferior quality, however these sites are often well presented, contain bogus sales staff, goods plagiarised from other websites, and contain many of the features that you’d expect on a reputable site.
Ms Otto said, “they also use the Covid-19 pandemic as an excuse to avoid personal interaction with customers, or as an excuse to prevent customers from trying to visit their non-existent showroom.”
Since November 2019, the NT Consumer Affair’s compliance unit has detected 77 scam websites.
To date, 73 of the sites have been shut down, despite the domain hosts being based off-shore and outside of Australian jurisdiction. The remaining four are the subject of shut down requests awaiting action.
Despite this success, the ongoing challenge for consumer and cybercrime organisations is the simple processes scammers use to launch new websites, move existing sites, or mask the identity of the website owner.
The compliance team have noted that victims of this particular type of scam have reported actual monetary losses totaling $907 000. Consumers also reported they could have lost more but for the scam alerts issued via the NT Consumer Affairs Facebook page, as they would have paid the balance of a transaction or followed through with intended purchases from a scam website, raising the possible total loss to $1.88 million.
Scam phone calls also remain to be an issue for Territorians. Acting Commissioner Sandy Otto added “Territorians are reminded to be very careful when receiving calls or text messages from people that you don’t know and ask you for personal information or ask you to click on a link. If someone says you have won a prize and asks for your personal details or asks for money so that you can claim a prize, hang up, block the number, it is a scam”.
Since November 2019:
NT Consumer Affairs has detected 77 scam websites.
Despite the website domain being hosted off-shore and outside of Australian jurisdiction, 73 have been shut down.
The remaining four sites are subject to shut down requests awaiting action.
Consumers who have contacted NT Consumer Affairs have reported actual monetary loss totalling almost $907 000.
This figure rises to $1.88m when it includes consumers that did not complete their transaction after seeing the NT Consumer Affairs Facebook warnings, and reported the site to NT Consumer Affairs.
Losses are likely to be higher as many victims do not report their loss due to anxiety or shame.