Beware of Coffs Coast internet scam

FRAUDSTERS are fleecing thousands of dollars from unsuspecting people listing vehicles, boats and motorcycles for sale on the internet.

An elaborate scam on the increase throughout NSW has already stung thousands of people advertising on online auction or car sales websites and it’s hit the Coffs Coast.

Criminal syndicates are combing the net, replying to advertisements with an offer to pay the full price for vehicles, motorcycles and vessels, sight unseen.

After hooking in sellers with fictitious stories about how they work on oil rigs or for overseas companies, they catch sellers out by organising for them to pay courier or shipping fees.

Sellers are led to believe the person they are dealing with is genuine, after they receive receipts indicating the agreed amount plus the price for shipping has been paid into their online money transfer (eg Western Union or Paypal) accounts.

Police say often this information is doctored and the receipts are fake.

Coffs/Clarence Inspector Chris Clarke said at the end of the transaction the vehicle owner has paid an amount to a fictitious company to cover the cost of shipping and the payment from the buyer never materialises.

“Due to an increase in this type of fraudulent activity police are urging anyone selling a vehicle online to never make any sort of payment to a potential buyer,” Inspector Clarke said.

Sergeant Lee Thomas said the best way to avoid the scam was to insist on potential buyers inspecting or test-driving the vehicle.

“If it seems too good to be true it probably is. Anyone selling motor vehicles or motorcycles online needs to be aware of this type of internet fraud,” Sgt Thomas said.

The NSW Police Fraud Squad has in recent years investigated countless lines of inquiry bringing the criminal syndicates behind these scams to justice.

Locally one online trader contacted the Coffs Coast Advocate indicating they were bombarded with suspicious emails within 24 hours of listing a boat for sale.

Another person who was wise to the scam provided the email chain between her and a fictitious buyer who was relentless in their dealings.

The scam artist using the name Rose Woods wrote: “I will be making the payment for the price of the car with the shipping charges for the shipment of it ASAP, so after you receive the payment in your account, my shipping agent will come for the pick up at your appropriate arrange time, date and location, he will handle all the necessary papers for the documentation. Thanks.”

In some instances money transfers appear briefly in sellers accounts, but between them paying the shipping charge, the transaction is cancelled, leaving them out of pocket.

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