A Woolgoolga consumer found a heartless trap behind this simple scrap of paper.
A Woolgoolga consumer found a heartless trap behind this simple scrap of paper. Rob Wright

Heartless Woopi scam warning

A SCAM on an unsuspecting Woolgoolga consumer has brought a warning from NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe.

The Commissioner is urging residents to arm themselves and their families, friends and neighbours in the campaign against scammers with more than one thousand complaint reports already received this year.

"The scams range from itinerant conmen offering building and home maintenance work including tree lopping, to false billing, bank refund and wealth creation rip offs," he said.

"Innocent victims are losing money because scammers are sophisticated and convincing.

"They trade on people's trust in government agencies and banks and regularly impersonate government officers, including Fair Trading and tax office employees."

In the Woolgoolga episode the victim deposited more than $300 into a Western Union account in the name of Ahmed Basar, in order to received overpaid bank fees.

The victim was contacted by four different people, all with common English names but Indian accents.

In another case a resident of Taree lost her life savings of more than $11,000 after being told she would receive a refund on overpaid bank fees.

The victim even allowed the scammers to get access to her computer in an attempt to help them obtain payment.

Mr Stowe said scammers often used direct deposits into bank accounts as well as Western Union as a means of payment, but UKash money vouchers had recently emerged as an alternative payment method.

"People should always just hang up and then report scam calls," he added.

"Help authorities by spreading the warning far and wide because we need a healthier level of scepticism and mistrust to combat the cynicism and deceit of scammers."

The internet continues to peddle an above average number of scams which often strike close to home.

Overnight the Coffs Coast Advocate received an "invitation" via the master editorial email to click on a Western Union web address.

"I was informed by my boss to send you the payment invoice been made (sic) earlier today," the harmless-looking message said.

"Kindly click the below link to view payment invoice so that payments could be forwarded."

Times are tight and the bank account needs rebuilding but on this occasion, the kindness of the sender was ignored.

For details of scams and to report scams, download a free Scam Buster app from the Fair Trading website at www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au

Consumers should also report scams to SCAMwatch at www.scamwatch.gov.au



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