We often see clients who have been approached to enter into arrangements which they believe might be scams. Unfortunately, some of these people have already entered into arrangements and paid money to people that are involved in scamming. Scamming and other related fraudulent activity within Australia has been increasing over recent years. Scammers have become very skilled in developing methods and approaches that make it difficult for the general public to detect the fraudulent activity.
Some of the known scams that are operating at the moment include –
There are two types of scams which we have seen recently. One involves the scammer sending a business a tax invoice for advertising in a publication which doesn’t exist. Often the invoice is sent straight to the accounts person and is paid for without any double checking. The second type of scam in this area involves unsolicited approaches from “advertising companies” which in fact don’t exist. They promote journals or magazines and will often supply samples of previous publications (of which only one sample exists) and will try to con the unsuspecting business into parting with cash for advertising in their phony magazines.
There are a number of text scams, the most common being a text from an unknown phone number requesting you to call or text them back. Often the number to call/text is a premium number (such as 1900 numbers) which can cost over $5 a minute to call – the caller is then billed for the call, only to find out the message was bogus.
Ebay or Internet Auction Scams
Be aware of any unusual requests from people wanting to buy your goods online. The most common scam is for the “buyer” to ask the seller to transfer some money into a Western Union account (or similar type of account) so that they can arrange for a transfer of funds to pay for the goods. As strange as it sounds, many people get caught out and never see their money again, as it quickly disappears into an overseas account.
When you receive an unsolicited approach from any company or organisation of which you have not heard, you should always do your homework. A quick Google search will often reveal whether the company you are dealing with is legitimate. The State and Commonwealth Governments have established regulatory bodies that will take your complaint if you have been scammed. These government bodies also have websites which offer good information about scams. One such website is www.scamwatch.gov.au which was set up by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to provide information about the latest scams. The Queensland Department of Fair Trade also has information about scams on their website which also allows you to report a scam online.
There are a number of ways we can assist you if you are unsure about an offer that has been made to you, or if you discover you have been scammed. Our commercial lawyers are experienced in a wide variety of business transactions and have good skills and resources to conduct due diligence inquiries on any entity which you may be unsure about. We can assist you in many ways, from due diligence mattes, or stopping harassing phone calls or correspondence, or general advice about what to do after being scammed, including any remedies open to you. Fraud is a multibillion dollar problem in Australia – don’t get caught out. If you feel uncomfortable about any transaction, contact us before you commit to anything.