November 2011: Beware of scam online classifieds ads for smartphones, tablet devices and other small electronic items which are never delivered following payment.
A smartphone, tablet or other electronic device is advertised on an online classifieds site at a low price, often lower than comparable items advertised on the same website.
In many cases the scam ad will offer one of the same product free when you purchase a certain number. E.g. Buy three get one free.
The scammers may claim to be authorised resellers and offer 100% genuine items with genuine factory warranties.
The scam ads may mislead you to believe that the seller is operating out of Australian capital cities, however they are really based overseas.
The scammer may not have a website but will ask you to place an order via email. They will use a free email service provider for their email address.
The scammer will ask you to complete the sale through a wire transfer service and not via credit card.
Following payment you will not receive the items you have paid for.
When questioned, the scammer may claim that non-delivery is due to hold ups at Australian customs and may demand further payment before the products will be released. If you pay more you will never receive the items and will lose all money paid.
Be cautious if the advertised price of a smartphone or other device looks too good to be true, it may be a scam.
Beware of offers for free products when you buy a certain number.
Don’t trust the legitimacy of an ad just because it appears on a reputable online classifieds or auction website—scammers post fake ads on these too.
Where possible, avoid any arrangement with a stranger that asks for up-front payment via money order, wire transfer or international funds transfer. It is rare to recover money sent this way. Credit card payment may offer a more secure option as banks and financial institutions can sometimes perform a 'charge back' if they believe that your credit card was billed fraudulently.
Do an internet search using the exact wording in the ad, including email addresses and trader names; many well-known scams can be identified this way.
Before committing to buy a smartphone or electronic device online speak with the manufacturer. Ask for a list of authorised online resellers especially if you require a warranty.
You can report scams to the ACCC via the report a scam page on SCAMwatch or by calling 1300 795 995.