Scammer Alert

Cons are demoralising. We explain common fraudster tricks to help safeguard your next buy.

Experiencing financial loss through fraud is devastating. And in recent times, as things to watch out for. demand increased, our industry came under attack.

Indeed, the Victorian Government and Consumer Affairs recently revealed they’d received 17 complaints involving fraudulent caravan sales since October 2020– up from 2 in the previous year.

When scammers exploit our trusting natures they usually employ common tricks to circumvent safeguards. So here are some of the things to watch out for.

Seller Platform Responsibilities 

Many of us purchase items online without giving it a second thought, but retailers and ‘online selling platforms’ that facilitate sales must meet certain legal expectations.

According to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC), all ‘online selling platforms’ must have a privacy policy, terms and conditions and dispute resolution protocols in place and contact details available.

“If it is an Australian company, you are in a much better position to sort out the problem if something goes wrong,” the ACCC spokesperson explained.

Significantly, if you’re paying for anything online–whether you’re placing an advertisement or purchasing a product–the platform ought to be secure.

“Look for a URL starting with ‘https’ and a closed padlock symbol, or a payment provider such as PayPal,” the spokesperson says.

How Online Dealer stores work

‘Online dealer stores’ hosted on a variety of online selling platforms provide a convenient way to browse products available at your favourite dealership or shop-front.

In the RV space, sellers may use these sites or ‘dealer stores’ to field enquiries and entice you to their yard. Some selling platforms allow dealers to reach out to buyers via email.

Whether you access a dealer store by email or online, knowing what’s standard practise will help you spot suspicious behaviour up front.

For example, no legitimate dealer would ever request a ‘holding deposit’ simply for the opportunity to check it out.

Rob Lucas, the Chief Executive Officer Caravan Industry Victoria, concurs.

“We suggest to all our consumers to speak to the businesses in person where possible to ensure the deal and sale is legitimate.

“And also to confirm they are paying for what they intend on purchasing,” says Rob.

Fradulent listings on legitimate platforms

Sometimes, a scammer may use a genuine selling platform to embezzle funds, with the view to gain and then break your trust.

Notably, these criminals are convincing, especially if they’re offering something you want. Elaborate stories and forged documents can form part of the ploy.

The ACCC spokesperson says scammers might advertise products at “unbelievably low prices”, or offer “amazing benefits” that “sound too good to be true”.
An added risk for first-time buyers unfamiliar with the landscape. So browse similar vans to gauge an appropriate price.

Fraudsters may also attempt to circumvent buyer safeguards says
the ACCC, by asking you to deal with them “outside of the selling platform”.

The ACCC also recommends buyers watch for sellers who insist upon immediate payment via electronic funds transfer or by a wire transfer before arranging an inspection.

Payment methods matter

Believe it or not, some payment methods are riskier than others.

“Think twice before using virtual currencies such as Bitcoin–they do not have the same protections as other transaction methods so you can’t get your money back once you send it,” says the spokesperson for ACCC.

“Avoid any arrangement with a stranger that asks for up-front payment via money order, wire transfer, international funds transfer, pre-loaded card or electronic currency, like Bitcoin. It is rare to recover money sent this way.

“Never send money or give credit card or online account details to anyone you don’t know or trust.”

What to do if you’re scammed?

If you suspect you’ve been scammed or have shared your account details with a scammer, the ACCC recommends that you contact your financial institution straight away.

“They may be able to stop a transaction, or close your account if the scammer has your account details.

“Your credit card provider may be able to perform a ‘chargeback’ (reverse the transaction) if your credit card was billed fraudulently.

Also, contact the online selling platform.“If you have provided a scammer your personal information you may want to contact IDCARE on 1300 432 273 or on their website. IDCARE is Australia and New Zealand’s national identity and cyber support service.

“You can also report scams to the ACCC via Scamwatch. More information on ways to protect yourself from scams and where to get help is available online.”