By Dylan J. Stone
Our region’s small businesses are being warned to be on the lookout for scammers, as a rise in scamming activity leading up to the Christmas period is blighting Broken Hill businesses.
One scam doing the rounds of local business owners is the promise to advertise material in certain magazines, which often do not actually exist, or not do not enjoy the level of readership which they claim to reach across the Far West.
Brodie Coles, from Broken Hill Carpet Cleaners, has recently been faced with this type of scam.
“The company stated they can put your business in a magazine, and that your contribution will go towards better policing which none of the funds actually go towards,” Mr Coles said.
Mr Coles noted, “the company portray themselves as a legitimate not-for-profit company, but in reality, they were quite the opposite.”
The perceived false-advertising, according to Mr Coles, was cause for concern as new and inexperienced business owners in particular might be susceptible to the claims and promises of the scammers.
Another business owner, who did not want to be identified due to embarrassment, was caught out in 2019 when they placed an advertisement in a similar magazine after a cold-call from the same company.
After the advertisement ran in the publication, of which no physical copies were available across the Far West, “I received 12 calls in one day thanking me for placing an advertisement in multiple magazines, and to confirm my banking details.
“The so-called magazine company appeared to have sold my information off to third-party companies who rang me and thanked me for placing the additional advertisements, of which I never provided consent for.”
The business owner added, “they would ring and say thank-you for supporting each specific magazine, we appreciate your support.
“After the fifth phone call, I realised they were talking about different magazines and they were using the fact I didn’t immediately query them as an implied consent.”
The business owner ultimately spent many weeks cancelling advertisements in numerous fraudulent magazines, and challenged several invoices. Ultimately, the business owner was able to cancel all of the invoices, but not without undue stress to them and their business.
Jack Dickson, Secretary of the Broken Hill Small Business Association, said that when running any form of advertising, business owners, “need to make sure you are advertising in a legitimate publication, and if you are cold-called, or haven’t heard of the proposed publication before, then exercise extreme caution before you provide any details or particulars”.
“Small business owners are most at risk of these sorts of scams, because they are the most likely cohort of business owner to want to engage with the community through advertising.”
Mr Coles is relieved that he identified the red flags, and now has the opportunity to warn fellow small business owners of these scams, which are now particularly targeting Far West business owners in the leadup to Christmas.