WA mechanic conned by ‘deaf’ scammer

Information status

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A scammer masquerading as a deaf customer has conned $5,000 from a Perth mechanic in an elaborate sting. Consumer Protection has received reports from two other vehicle repairers in WA who have also been targeted.

The sting involves the scammer sending an email requesting work to be carried out on a car and then asking the business to pay a towing company on their behalf. They claim to be hearing impaired and give this as a reason why they cannot communicate by phone.

The scammers are known to use the National Relay Service (NRS) – a telephone service provided to the hearing impaired – in order to add authenticity to their story. In some cases they may claim to be interstate but about to relocate to WA, and ask for help to pay a shipping company rather than a towing company.

After making initial contact to request vehicle repair work, the scammers offer to pay via a credit card, providing stolen card details. They ask the business to take an amount as a deposit to secure the repair services and extra to cover the cost of the payment to the towing or shipping company.

Commissioner for Consumer Protection Anne Driscoll said the businesses targeted will usually be asked to pay the fictitious towing or shipping company by wire transfer, the payments being untraceable once the money is collected.

“If the business becomes embroiled in the scam they will likely receive fake emails from the non-existent towing or shipping company,” Ms Driscoll explains.

“Phone numbers may be given but, if called, they may automatically transfer overseas and the scammers will answer quoting the name of the bogus towing or shipping company.”

The NRS has strategies in place to identify and contain attempts to make scam calls through their service. These are regularly reviewed to respond to changing trends.

WA ScamNet’s advice to businesses:

  • Never pay money via wire transfer to help a customer access the goods or services you are selling.
  • Be cautious when dealing with overseas or interstate orders – independently verify who you are dealing with before sending money or goods. If doubtful do not proceed with the order. Be sceptical if normal banking processes are not available.
  • When accepting a credit card payment, check with the card issuer for authorisation to avoid accepting stolen credit card details.

More information on scams can be obtained from WA ScamNet website: www.scamnet.wa.gov.au or by email: scamquery@commerce.wa.gov.au or call 1300 30 40 54.

END OF RELEASE

Consumer Protection is a division of the Department of Commerce.

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Media Contact:
Alan Hynd
9282 0961 or 0429-078791
alan.hynd@commerce.wa.gov.au

Consumer Protection
Media release
14 Dec 2012

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