Thousands of Aussies have been duped by online shopping scams.
Lulu Adams was recently scammed by a fake online shopping site while trying to buy a new pair of shoes for work.
The 25-year-old said she had been looking up loafers online and started to get targeted by Instagram and Facebook ads showing pairs similar to the ones she was looking for.
“It was pretty late at night so I was fairly tired, but I saw the exact pair of loafers I’d put in my shopping basket on another site at 50 per cent of the price I was going to buy them for,” Adams said.
“The ad said they were the last pair available, and that three others had them in their shopping cart, so I obviously clicked in a panicked rush and went through what I thought was a legit check-out process.”
Adams received a confirmation email, but started getting suspicious three weeks later when the shoes still hadn’t arrived. She then researched the merchant and couldn’t find anything about them online.
“So I went back to the site and decided to click around. All the links on the site were inactive web pages which had me then learn it was a scam,” she said.
“The site looked so real at a first glance and, because I was up against time pressure … I didn’t feel compelled to make sure it was legit.”
Adams said she had luckily paid using Revolut’s one-time-use virtual card, meaning her actual card details were not entered into the site and couldn’t be stolen. She then received a refund from Revolut.
Aussies warned over shopping scams
Aussies are being warned about an increase in cyber scams in the lead-up to Mother’s Day, with Revolut noting there is often a spike around major events and sales.
Revolut Australia’s head of financial crime, Nelson Yiannakou, said purchase scams were one of the most common. This is when a fake or non-existent item is advertised for sale.
Red flags include sales prices that “seem too good to be true”, a request for payment through a bank transfer instead of online payment or card, and being put under time pressure to get a good deal.
“If you’re put up against time pressure. Stop, breathe, think. Scammers will often create a sense of urgency and euphoria so shoppers become anxious to not miss out and subsequently let their guard down,” Yiannakou said.
Scammers will also often counterfeit receipts and invoices, so it’s important to read these carefully and look for things like spelling errors, poor grammar or unusual contact details.
Yiannakou recommended people try to buy from trusted and well-known merchants when shopping online. If the merchant isn’t well-known to you, take the time to investigate the site more deeply.
Aussies have already lost more than $1.8 million to online shopping scams this year, according to the ACCC’s Scamwatch, with more than 5,000 reports made.