Commissioner's Blog: Give shipping container scams a wide berth
Swelling demand for shipping containers is causing Western Australian consumers to be scammed out of their money at a rate of knots.
When items are in high demand yet short in supply, they become easy targets for scammers who know that when people are desperate to buy scarce items, they can forget to ‘practice the pause’ to consider whether they are being swindled.
According to figures from our WA ScamNet team, 11 victims have been duped out of a whopping $80,707 already this year – easily eclipsing the $54,500 recorded in the first five months of 2022, and far exceeding the $49,000 in total losses for the whole of 2021.
It starts when consumers respond to adverts on social media or elsewhere online for discounted shipping containers, before sending money to websites that turn out to be fake.
Often the scammers steal the business name and ABN information from legitimate companies to appear more convincing, which is exactly what happened recently to GG Plant and Machinery Pty Ltd - an authentic business without an online presence.
As fast as our WA ScamNet team was able to shut down the impersonator sites ‘ggplantandequipment.com’ and ‘ggplantandequipment.com.au’, another one popped up in its place (‘ggplantequipment.com.au’), highlighting why consumers need to remain vigilant when looking for goods online.
Scammers wave a big red flag when they advertise goods well below market prices and only allow consumers to pay via bank transfer, so we always advise against paying for goods this way.
Instead, only shop on websites that offer secure payment methods such as credit card or PayPal, which allow you to dispute the transaction if the goods aren’t delivered or something else goes wrong.
If you are looking to buy a shipping container, proceed with caution and remember it’s always best if you can inspect the goods in-person. Take the time to find the website or contact details of the legitimate business, then make contact using details you have independently sourced to ascertain whether the offer is genuine.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection
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