June 2011: SCAMwatch is warning current and former VIPtel Mobile customers to beware of scam phone calls offering a refund in exchange for payment of a fee. Scammers may claim to be from Centrelink and will ask for the fee to be paid by wire transfer.
How the scam works:
You receive a phone call out of the blue from a scammer claiming to be from either Centrelink, a ‘consulting company’, an unspecified government department, or a lawyer, who claim they have access to customer refunds from VIPtel Mobile.
The scammer will advise you that you are entitled to a refund, claiming it is the result of court action.
The ACCC has taken a number of court actions against EDirect Pty Ltd, which at the time traded as VIPtel Mobile. The ACCC confirms there are currently no refunds due to any current or former VIPtel Mobile customers as a result of these court actions.
The scammer will ask you to pay a fee via wire transfer in order to receive your refund. If you pay this money you are likely to lose it all and will not receive any money or “refund” in return. Some victims have reported losing over $3,000 to this scam.
The scammer may already have some of your personal information, such as your financial or contact details, and may use these to make the scam seem legitimate.
If you receive a phone call out of the blue claiming you need to pay money to access a refund, hang up immediately.
If you’re not sure that a call is a scam you can check by independently using official contact details, never use phone numbers or email addresses provided by the caller.
NEVER provide or confirm your personal details over the phone unless you made the call using details you found yourself and you trust the other party.
Where possible, avoid any arrangement with a stranger that asks for up-front payment via money order, wire transfer or moneygram. It is rare to recover money sent this way.
SCAMwatch urges you to never pay money upfront to receive a ‘refund’ or ‘free’ money – this is advance fee fraud, also know as an up-front payment scam.
If you think you have provided bank account or credit card details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.
You can report scams to the ACCC via the report a scam page on SCAMwatch or by calling 1300 795 995.
EDirect Pty Ltd is now in external administration and a company called M2 Viptel Pty Ltd has taken over all VIPtel Mobile customer contracts. M2 Viptel has advised the ACCC that this is a scam and is warning customers via SMS, on their next invoice and on the M2 VIPtel website.
The Hon. Tanya Pliberseck, Minister for Human Services has also issued a press release about this scam - Warning of scammers posing as Centrelink workers (link no longer available).