We recently were caught by an online scam. My husband found a BBQ discounted by 20% via a website weberbbqstore.com.au. He selected a model that he wanted, placed the order and passed the baton to the treasurer (me) for payment. We should have realised straight away that the site was a scam site - no phone number anywhere and they would only take a bank transfer (no credit cards). I paid $1,112.00 and within 24 hours my husband started to have doubts about the site so he called the real Weber organisation and was told “yes it’s a scam”. I checked the fake site - it was still up and running and our order was listed as “waiting for bank transfer”.
I suggested we email saying we had changed our minds (ha ha, fat chance) which we did but of course there was no response. Further online research found a very similar site previously found to be a scam - the only difference was the logo and the product, everything else was the same. I understand that this scam has been going for a while and not just with Weber products, but also many outdoor items.
Weber had suggested contacting the police which my husband did but they were not in the least interested and told him to log the issue with ScamWatch which he also did.
I contacted the bank by phone immediately (while the website was still operational although it has since been taken down - for a short time it was forwarded to the official Weber site) and logged a request for retrieval of funds from the scammer (the account was in the name of D L Armstrong). A week later we received a letter from the bank saying they “would attempt to retrieve our money”. The wording made me think that they had delayed action for that week and I believe if they had acted immediately there may have been a chance to get our money back, or at the very least prevent others from losing their money. We have since received another letter from the bank saying our request for retrieval of funds has not been successful. I am now considering making a complaint to the Banking Ombudsman.
I understand that we made a choice to send money to an online account and should have been more careful, however I’m really disappointed with our bank (one of the big 4) and their slow response.
- be wary of making online purchases by bank transfer
- beware of websites that don’t provide a contact number
- choose your bank carefully