Officer Inspector Tom Aylett of the Broken Hill Police says the recent media attention to scammers hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm of your average swindler.
“We’ve seen some trends over the last couple of months of the robo-calls, with people contacting people on the phone to try and offer a refund from an online seller,” he says.
“So you may get a phone call from someone pretending to be from Amazon and offering a refund. And then, that person, to offer the refund, wants you to check your bank account online.
“Then, while you’re doing that, they ask you to install an application on your computer or your phone or your iPad, that allows that scammer to access your bank details and then deplete your account of funds.
“So obviously, if you don’t make an order with an online company and that company rings to offer you a refund, hang up.”
Officer Aylett would like to drive home the point that police never execute warrants over the phone.
“I know historically there have always been those scam warnings around people who say they are from the Australian Tax Office and you had to hand over money or the police were going to come with a warrant. That’s not the case. Police don’t act on behalf of the Australian Tax Office and we’re not out there enforcing warrants for unpaid tax bills. Please don’t fall for that.”
Officer Aylett also warns that social media pages are another hunting ground for sharks.
“I know there’s some social media pages where there’ve been some concerns raised with some people selling some animals online, particularly puppies,” he says.
“Now, obviously, a puppy online – a cute, generic photo of a little puppy – invokes some heartstrings and people think that it’d be great to buy a puppy, especially leading up to Christmas. The motive that people are using is that they’re happy to give the puppy away for free, but they just need to have the dog or the cat shipped to Broken Hill from another part of the state and to go halves or share the cost of that freight.
“At that point, they try and get you to pay funds into an account. Look, be very, very cautious of this. My advice would be that I wouldn’t be paying for an animal online. Certainly, you’re best off going there and seeing someone in person. Make sure that you know who you’re dealing with. Don’t hand over your details or credit card details over the phone. Don’t agree to transfer funds into an account unless you are very certain that it’s not a fraud.
“I understand that, yesterday on one of the social media pages, there was a lady – or a person purporting reporting to be a lady – that was selling a Jack Russell, who was challenged on the validity of her details, then the post was removed and the evidence of that attempted sale was deleted. So, don’t be suckered in by it, because the chances of identifying the person are difficult. And the chances of recovering your funds are virtually impossible.
“Don’t give away your hard-earned money by a scam. If you have any concerns, contact the police and discuss the scenario.”