Rise in scams sees Australian victims mailing bizarre articles


Exclusive Tired online shoppers share their stories of scams by sellers on sites such as Facebook and Instagram amid an increase in so-called “bait and switch” scams on social media.

Since the article was published, 9news.com.au has received a flood of emails from readers who have also fallen victim to similar scams – often receiving weird and unrelated articles instead of what they have. actually bought.

Sydney’s mom, Daniela Coulstock, bought a $ 150 quad bike from a seller on Instagram. To her surprise, she was sent a necklace instead. (Provided)

Sydney’s mother Daniela Coulstock couldn’t help but strike a good deal when she saw an ad appear on her Instagram feed for a quad bike.

The four-wheel-drive quad featured in the ad featured a 449cc injection engine and a lightweight aluminum chassis.

The high-tech bamboo cutting board bought by Gill Cornforth.

Australians share strange items sent to them by crooks

Eager to start her Christmas shopping, Ms. Coulstock bought the $ 150 bike for her children.

“Everything was so cheap in this store, so I also ended up buying a hanging outdoor chair for US $ 59 and a toolbox with tools for US $ 39,” she said.

A month later, Ms. Coulstock was puzzled to receive a small package in the mail from China.

“I opened it and inside was a cheap gold necklace with gold leaf… I thought it wasn’t what I ordered,” she said.

A photo of the tree Marie Armitage bought (left) and what arrived in the mail (right). (Marie Armitage)

A few days later another small package arrived, this time containing a necklace with a heart-shaped pendant.

A tracking number on one of the packages matched that of the quad, while the other collar appeared to have been sent in place of the hanging chair and toolbox, Ms Coulstock said.

“It’s just weird, very weird,” she said, adding that after filing a complaint, she was successful in getting the chair and tool bench refunded from PayPal, but was still fighting for get his money back for the quad.

Ms Hadland said the same scams, such as the Christmas tree and sticker association, have been happening over and over again for years.

“There are billions of dollars in ads bought by China-based scam networks to scam Australians and Americans,” she said.

“It’s Facebook’s worst-kept secret, and honestly, we hope negative stories finally stay in the news cycle.”

Bangkok, Thailand - February 15, 2021: iPhone 7 showing its screen with popular social media apps of Clubhouse, Instagram and Facebook.
Scammers use low prices to lure victims. (Getty)

Scammers often stole photos of items sold by legitimate businesses for use in their advertisements and then offered the products at super low prices to attract customers, Ms. Hadland said.

Sending a cheap item, rather than nothing at all, tended to make it more difficult for victims to get refunds, she added.

“They mostly send something because PayPal tends to reject complaints when there is real tracking,” Ms. Hadland said.

“Scammers are also able to enlighten people by sending a cheap copy – telling people that’s what they ordered.”

West Australian security guard Paul purchased a pallet of what the crooks claimed to have been returned or excess stock from Amazon, only to receive the four items pictured at right.
West Australian security guard Paul purchased a pallet of what the crooks claimed to have been returned or excess stock from Amazon, only to receive the four items pictured at right. (Provided)

Often, customers were asked to return the item to China at their own expense, which led to some people giving up, Ms. Hadland said.

The number of Australians reporting scams using baits and switches is increasing.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch program received nearly 1,800 reports of online shopping scams from social media from the start of this year to October 24, with more than $ 794,000 in losses .

During the same period, he received 119 reports where customers tried to purchase a particular product and received completely different goods of lesser value.

Some of the replacement items mentioned in the reports were “face masks” instead of kitchen utensils, a “notepad” instead of an iPad, and “sunglasses” instead of shoes.

Perth security guard Paul, who requested that his last name not be released, was also a victim when he purchased an $ 80 tool bench advertised on Facebook.

What arrived in the mail was a cheap toolbox worth around $ 5, he said.

An $ 80 rolling tool bench?  This is what Western Australian security guard Paul got instead.
An $ 80 rolling tool bench? This is what Western Australian security guard Paul received in the mail instead. (Provided)

Since then, Paul has been playing a game of trying to catch other scammers, ordering items, and reporting them to PayPal when the wrong product shows up. Paul said he also reported the sellers to the companies whose wares they claim to sell.

Paul said it was easy to spot advertisements belonging to scammers.

“They will often appear as sponsored ads, and they usually offer outrageous discounts,” he said.

Power tools and tool benches were popular items for scammers, Paul said.

Scammers often posted a video of a person using the item they were advertising, sometimes the person’s face was out of focus, he said.

A common scam involves advertisers selling pallets of merchandise. The crooks fraudulently claim that the pallets consist of returned or excess inventory from retail giant Amazon.

Often sold at very low prices, the advertised pallets represent a bargain that many find it hard to resist.

Seeking to expose the scam, Paul purchased a pallet of merchandise called “Amazon”, containing tools and equipment.

Instead of a cumbersome delivery arriving at his door, he received four small items – a mini wireless speaker, a key ring, a watch, and a charging cable.

In another scam, Paul ordered a deluxe toolbox that included tools for $ 80 and received three small plastic rods in the mail.

“I reported it to PayPal, but the company asked me to send it back to China. It cost $ 20 to send the sticks back to China via Australia Post,” Paul said.

Instead, he received plastic sticks in the mail.
Paul ordered a luxury toolbox. Instead, he received plastic sticks in the mail. (Provided)

Paul said Facebook should be held accountable for its lack of action against crooks using its platform.

“Personally, I see that Facebook is doing little to stop these bogus sponsor ads,” he said.

“They should be held accountable under Australian law as they financially harvest the proceeds of crime and are responsible for the lack of control over the content on their platform.”

Asked about the bait and switch scams, a spokesperson for Facebook – which also owns Instagram – told 9news.com.au that the social media giant is taking the issue seriously.

“We do not allow scams on our services and we are taking swift action to remove them as soon as we become aware of them,” the spokesperson said.

“We encourage people to report pages or profiles that violate these rules by promoting deceptive or deceptive products, services, programs or offers.

“We are working to stay ahead of scammers and that includes investing in our app and setting up real world consequences, including legal action.”

How the scam works and tips to protect yourself

Online shopping scams involve scammers posing as legitimate online sellers with fake websites, bogus ads on real retailer sites or through the use of social media platforms by setting up fake stores or by posting advertisements on social networks.

· If a product is too good to be true, it probably is. Look for sellers with items at extremely low prices.

· Beware of sellers who demand immediate payment or payment by wire transfer. Pay only for items using a secure payment service – look for a URL starting with “https” and a closed padlock symbol, or a payment provider such as PayPal.

· If you bought something online and there is a problem, you should try to contact the dealer as there may be a legitimate reason for the problem.

· If you are not happy with the response and believe you have been scammed, you may be able to arrange a chargeback through your bank if you paid by credit card.

· You can also report a scam to ACCC via the Scamwatch website.

· Let your friends and family know about the scam so you can help protect others.

Contact reporter Emily McPherson at [email protected]


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