Scam warning for online Christmas shoppers

Christmas might be the time to give, but there’s one type of person you wouldn’t want to reward with a free gift this holiday season: a con artist.

Sadly, this has been the result for around 200 Western Australians so far in 2021, who have reported to WA ScamNet that they have been cheated by almost $ 700,000 when shopping online.

The bogus websites and social media pages claimed to sell everything from barbecues to RVs, but consumers never received the items nor reviewed their money.

It is very easy to be fooled, with bogus websites that often look very professional and sometimes steal the identity of a well-known retailer or brand.

Additionally, items for sale may be offered at very low prices in an attempt to spark a buyer’s enthusiasm for a good deal.

While the WA ScamNet team has managed to shut down around 200 fake websites and almost 100 social media pages this year, scam sites often quickly reappear under different names.

This means that it will never be possible to close all fake sites and pages, so online shoppers should be sure the site is genuine before entering their personal and financial information when making a purchase.

The best warning sign that a retail website is a scam is the payment method. Be very suspicious if crooks ask you to pay by electronic funds transfer or using a money order, preloaded card, or cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin, as it is rare to collect money. money sent this way.

Another important tip is to look at the overall quality of the website, grammatical errors in the text, poorly edited images, and whether the business is providing an actual address for their location. Try to pay only by credit card or secure payment method such as PayPal, as it is possible to get your money back if something goes wrong or the item is not delivered.

Better yet, consider prioritizing online retailers based in WA or doing your Christmas shopping at local brick and mortar stores this year.

For more information or to report a scam, go to the WA ScamNet website or call 1300 30 40 54.

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