NAB has issued a warned about the rise of shopping scams as Aussies look for mid-year bargains.
Shoppers taking advantage of mid-year sales are being warned to be vigilant, as scammers target popular brands with fake websites and online social media stores.
NAB customer reports of goods and services scams have increased 66 per cent since February.
Aussies spend $2,063, on average, on clothes and shoes every year, so it’s no surprise scammers are targeting well-known brands.
‘Ghost’ websites designed to steal your money
NAB warned the criminals were creating ‘ghost’ shopping websites to rip off unsuspecting customers.
NAB head of investigations and fraud Chris Sheehan said the creation of ghost sites and fake ads on legitimate websites highlighted just how sophisticated scammers had become.
“Many Australians will use the upcoming mid-year sales to grab a bargain while, for businesses, it’s an opportunity to end the financial year on a strong note,” Sheehan said.
“That’s why we need to help consumers and businesses to see through scams.”
Sheehan said criminals, often connected to multinational organised-crime groups, were behind the development of sophisticated ‘ghost’ websites designed to be almost indistinguishable from legitimate sites.
“They’ll often feature images of current-season clothing and stolen logos, along with ABNs [Australian Business Numbers] and a .com.au domain name,” he said.
“Fake websites and online social media stores are generally only up and running for a short period of time before scammers move on to the next brand.
“Most of the time, nothing will arrive, while sometimes, the buyer will receive a counterfeit version of the item they’ve purchased.”
More than $9 million lost to shopping scams
More than $9 million was lost to shopping scams in 2022, and 18,000 reports of online shopping scams had already been made this year, according to Scamwatch.
Scammers have used shopping scams to steal more than $2.5 million from Australians in the first four months of 2023.