Driving out online fraud
ONE IN 20 Australians are caught by scams and about twothirds of consumer fraud now occurs online, according to the Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce.
While much would-be fraud is the obvious work of amateurs, such schemes are gaining in frequency and sophistication, according to taskforce chairman Peter Kell, also Australian Competition and Consumer Commission deputy chairman.
has joined forces with ACFT, a group of 21 Australian and New Zealand government agencies, to raise awareness of online fraud during National Consumer Fraud Week, which starts on Monday.
Backed by more than 120 metropolitan, suburban and regional News Limited newspapers, is Australia’s biggest automotive brand. ‘‘Online safety is an issue takes extremely seriously,’’
publisher Sue Klose said. ‘‘We are constantly working with our online counterparts and government agencies to combat this industry issue. By partnering with the Consumer Fraud Taskforce, we aim to help educate and empower people with practical tools and information so they can buy and sell online with confidence.
‘‘ Safety Centre at Carsguide.com.au features a very useful guide to help protect users against fraud.’’
On the frontline is Clarissa Pitsikas, the scourge of the few frauds foolish enough to try it on the website.
Clarissa personally verifies 30 to 40 online advertisements from buyers each day and advises customers who call with examples of email inquiries they suspect.
‘‘Usually I can tell simply by looking at the wording. They tend to be very similar,’’ she says. They say ‘I’m overseas. I’m buying this for my father-inlaw’. They want to pay through PayPal or Western Union.
‘‘Anyone wanting to buy sight unseen, forget about it.’’
She has a bulging folder of banned internet addresses and suspect advertisers. Equally, suspect sellers get the third degree.
‘‘If it looks legitimate I call every single caller to verify every single detail,’’ she says.
‘‘If they don’t add up, I cancel their ad. I check addresses ... if it’s an invalid address, phone number or the car is suspiciously under market value, I cancel it. If there’s is an inconsistency, I call and email asking they call back.
‘‘Nine times out of 10, they don’t, so I cancel the ad. If they can’t verify the registration number, email address, colour of the car, it’s a giveaway.’’
The ACCC’s SCAMwatch website has more information. Visit www.scamwatch.gov.au