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Have you 'almost' been caught in a consumer scam?

Hello! I’m currently writing a feature for CHOICE on the Top 10 scams doing the rounds in Australia and I’d like to interview a consumer who has been a victim - or ALMOST a victim - of a scam.

Is this you? If so, please leave a comment below with a short explainer on the scam and your experience… and I’ll be in touch.

Thank you so much!

Kylie Matthews, journalist - CHOICE


Whilst I have not been caught out by a scam, I would nominate the very worst one as the disgusting Bitcoin scams which I have posted about frequently in this forum.


I don’t think I was almost scammed, but this one gave me pause. I received an email (gmail? hotmail?) using the name of a senior manager who was “in a meeting and on her phone” needing to urgently buy an iTunes voucher for her nephew’s birthday. I’d be fixed up later.

Knee jerk reaction was to comply, but something didn’t feel right. Why didn’t they use their work address? Why approach me and not someone closer? “Urgent”?


My mother, when she was in her 80s, took a phone call from someone who managed to get her to download an executable program to her computer. Thankfully she’s on a Mac so it didn’t get them very far. It still gives me a laugh when I think of the frustration the scammer went through.It would NOT have been an easy thing to do!
Sometimes it doesn’t matter how far you think you’ve driven the message home. I’m keeping her away from online shopping and banking, which feels like the wrong thing to do, but I worry she is too trusting.


Hi Kylie
I certainly feel like I have been scammed with my purchased of a rusted AEG oven which I bought in 2012. I have posted my experience under heading ‘AEG Combi Steam Oven, Rust hole on enamel base’.
This seems to be a recurring issue even before June 2012 when i purchased my oven. I have contacted several consumers willing to provide a statement about their experience. If this problem was already known to be an issue, that means I was being scammed?


Hi @bronwastaken - what a scary thing to have happened to your mother! I would very much like to chat to you about this experience to include in this CHOICE feature. Can you please private message me your email address so I can send through some questions for you to answer? Kylie Matthews.


If one is worried about a family member (such as a elderly parent or even a young child) allowing external access for someone to download an executable file (or to install an executable file from a website), with Windows one can set up the family member as a secondary account/user without administration rights. One can then set up so that this secondary user account has limited rights in relation to installing files or allowing third party access. It is very easy to do and can give piece of mind.

Even with our home PC, we have both an admin account and a secondary user account. The secondary user account is used for everything day to day…and admin only used for installing new software or updates which require admin rights.


My brother in law spent $6800 on a second hand tractor over the Internet. It was a very sophisticated Scam with a convincing website. Payment went through another fake “Escrow” and shipping site. He even got tracking updates for 10 days.


Nearest I got to being scammed was to follow up on a Facebook ‘officially posted advertisement’. Apparently, FB had - and still has - very little monitoring of whether or not paid advertisements come from actual suppliers of goods (or merely takers-of-money) and no monitoring of all on whether items which are paid for and supplied ‘actually work’.

I’ve never followed a single FB ad since.

I don’t know if it still happens - but a decade ago when I went to sell a car, I instantly got an offer via text to purchase the vehicle via PayPal. These are standard Nigerian “419” scams. I had suspicions; looked into it, most of the Australian car-selling websites have warnings. Cue is ‘don’t reply via text, send e-mail’. These are all scams. Next car I sold, two years later, I got 5 of the damn things.

Scamwatch is very good; a simple search usually finds it’s been identified.


Twice today I’ve had phone calls from what sound like Indian call centres notifying me that they’ve noticed suspicious activity on my account. In both cases they claimed to be calling not from a bank but some central Visa and Mastercard service and in both cases were initially just plausible enough to fool me into indirectly confirming that I bank with a particular institution. But then the questions continued and the smell of a rat became overwhelming and I didn’t give either any more information.
Why did I initially fall for the second call after hanging up on the first? Because the first left me with that niggling doubt that either they were actually for real (highly unlikely) or that they were already in possession of enough info to conduct a transaction and the second call was actually for real. In any case, they were convincing enough and worrying enough that someone less savvy or more vulnerable might easily be fooled into giving them all the information they were after. They even tried to blind me with techno-speak telling me that they were going to block the IP address of the person making the fraudulent transaction from accessing online banking so they couldn’t make another attempt. Seriously? Some central credit card monitoring service blocking IP addresses for my bank’s online system? I’d love to know the details of their setup to achieve that.


Yes. Back in March I ordered a cosmetics item from a Google sponsored ad posted by a company called NinthAvenue, as I couldn’t get the item from my usual sources. The item has never showed up. Follow ups by me have resulted in emails along the lines of “yeah, sorry, someone will get back to you” but of course they never do. The phone number connects to a voicemail and again of course one never receives a response. Belated research (Trustpilot) showed this company is likely a scam company based in India. I have requested a refund from my credit card institution. Worst online shopping experience ever.


I was ‘almost’ scammed a few days ago, via an unsolicited phone call.
Not a Consumer Scam (I wasn’t asked to buy something) but a scam to harvest my private files and passwords.
It’s not the first time these people have called, but I usually just hang up. This time I wasted their time a little to see what they were doing.
What they want to do is gain uncontrolled access to my computer.
I answer a phone call from what appears to be an Australian number. It is almost certainly spoofed (like a false sender address on the back of an envelope).
It’s a well spoken voice, possibly Indian, who enquires after my health.
Then warns me there is unusual activity coming from my modem.
Me: Oh no! What do I do?
Him: Do you have any devices connected to it?
Me: Yes, a computer.
Him: Please sit in front of it and turn it on.
(Excellent instructions, btw. He is patient every time I claim to mke a mistake)
Me: OK
Him: What is the key next to the Control Key?
(He does this so he can work out type of computer. I use a Mac, which he worked out)
Him: Open Safari or Chrome.
Me: Ok, Safari is open.
Him: In the address bar at the top of the page, type this (he spells out
He tells me to click the Free Download button.
It will download an installer which will give him full access to my computer. I tell him I’m unable to do this, and we are cut off at that point, probably by a supervisor who monitors all the calls.

This is dangerous because it sounds plausible, and is so simply done.

Once in it would take him less than a minute to download stuff. Or he would induce me authorise him to install keystroke loggers which would report log in details for bank accounts etc.
It’s called social engineering.


I had someone call from what appeared to be an Australian landline, saying I owed money to the tax department because I had only paid tax ‘in the half amount’ for the period 2014-2017. He said they had already sent me two letters, and that there was now a warrant in my name. If I didn’t immediately pay $1872 dollars, the local police would come to my house in 45 minutes and I would be taken into custody for 72 hours at the ‘community court house’ and have to appear before a judge the following day. I knew it was a scam and wrote down everything he said. I asked him his name, and he told me ‘Richard Parker’, and also gave me his ‘badge ID number’ and my ‘case file number’. I told him that I needed to ring my husband to tell him that I would be going to gaol - the caller sounded confused, and reiterated his threat, adding that the penalty for not paying would be $8000-9000. I said okay but I needed to let my family know where I would be taken. Eventually the caller became frustrated and just hung up. At that very moment the doorbell rang, and I nearly jumped out of my skin. But it was a delivery of flowers from our children: our dear old dog had died the day before.


I fell into the Viagogo trap. We wanted to see Michael Buble in Sydney, so Googled bookings. Of course, guess who was at the top? Viagogo.

It was just sheer carelessness on my part. The “tickets” cost nearly 3 times what they would have on Ticketek, and were in someone elses name ! I was told by Viagogo this was quite OK, that they were unwanted tickets being resold.

I enquired with the promotors whether these possibly dud tickets would allow admission on the night, but they would not assist. Understandable I guess.

We decided we could not take the risk, so I swallowed my anger and bought legitimate tickets from the authorised outlet.

I put the Viagogo tickets up for sale again at a discount rate, then discovered that it may be illegal to do this in NSW !

I did not contact Fair Trading because (too late) I found many many warnings about Viagogo, so, with embarrassment, decided it was all my own silly fault


After what seemed to be the 100th call from ‘Nicole’ to tell me that my landline was going to be disconnected unless I connected to NBN, I hit the buttons to go through to the next step. I was transferred to a ‘technician’ who then transferred me to his ‘supervisor’ to further advise me. At that point I told him that I was aware this was a scam and then I hung up. Five minutes later he rang back and abused me. I hung up. He then called every five minutes or so for hours. I actually don’t use the landline so turned the phone off but I admit I was surprised at the response.


Last year, I ordered FREE face creams to try and found myself in a monthly ordering system where they deducted money from my credit card (which was provided for the postage & handling)
I contacted the company and my bank to have the transactions reversed. Thankfully I got my money back.

No matter how lucrative the offer appears i don’t order FREE anything online - the old saying nothing is really free is true!