Topics:  backpackers, dept of fair trading, scams

Scams targeting the Coffs Coast

The NSW Government's Scam Buster program is warning residents and visitors to the Coffs Coast.
The NSW Government's Scam Buster program is warning residents and visitors to the Coffs Coast.

COFFS Coast residents and international travellers seeking work locally are falling victim to two separate scams, which authorities are investigating.

The first is a phone scam targeting locals, where the caller poses as an employee of the Department of Fair Trading calling to inform them about a refund, which they are owed by one of the major banks.

"They say that in order to receive the money they are owed people need to deposit money for administrative purposes, via Western Union, to individuals or into banks accounts," Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe warned.

"NSW Fair Trading does not cold call consumers and does not request payment via phone calls.

Mr Stowe said a Macksville resident recently paid almost $2000 via Western Union to callers using false names and phoning from New Delhi.

She was told she would receive $5800 in bank fees from two banks in Australia.

"A consumer in Coffs Harbour was given the details of an Australian bank account to pay money into, so Fair Trading is determined to talk to whoever owns that account," he said.

The second scam under investigation has targetted backpackers looking for casual work on the Coffs Coast.

Staff from a local hostel have warned travellers about the scam operating on gumtree.com where backpackers are asked to make an upfront payment to secure accommodation and a fruit picking job.

The ad is titled "Farm Workers Wanted" and calls on people to deposit $150 into a bank account to cover accommodation at the hostel.

The ad promises to refund the money after the first week of work, but backpackers have arrived in Coffs Harbour only to discover they have fallen victim to a scam.

"We have reported the scam to Coffs Harbour police and some backpackers have done the same, so far I know of 10 backpackers who fell for the scam," the hostel warned backpackers via facebook.

"They said at the time when they read the advert on Gumtree the page had over 1,000 hits.

"The ad has now been removed, but whenever an advert is removed (they) open another one."



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