Sunshine Coast District Criminal Investigation Branch Officer in Charge Daren Edwards warns buyers that if they can't physically go and see the item - or get someone else to for them - to err on the side of caution.
Sunshine Coast District Criminal Investigation Branch Officer in Charge Daren Edwards warns buyers that if they can't physically go and see the item - or get someone else to for them - to err on the side of caution. Contributed

Are you making yourself a target for scammers?

IN AN age where you can purchase just about anything at the click of a button and have it delivered to your door, it's easy to get complacent.

But, a misplaced trust in these digital transactions is leaving buyers out-of-pocket and police frustrated.

While there hasn't been a spike in online scams, Coast police are warning people to use their common sense online as the process to recoup losses is long and rarely fruitful.

You don't look at the product first

Sunshine Coast District Criminal Investigation Branch officer-in-charge Daren Edwards warns buyers that if they can't physically go and see the item - or get someone else to for them - to err on the side of caution.

"Whilst there are many transactions completed and honest people provide the items purchased, unfortunately the criminals use this means all too easily," Detective Senior Sergeant Edwards said.

"A significant amount of work involving assistance from banking institutions in order to obtain banking records, account holder details and telephone records occurs and subsequently incurs on resources of police and banking staff."

In September an 18-year-old Coast man was charged with fraud after he advertised a laptop on Gumtree that didn't exist because he was aware of the site's lack of buyer protection.

He made $1600 from his victim.

Detectives are also still searching for another Coast scammer after a Brisbane man paid them $750 for concert tickets via Gumtree that don't exist.

You take the purchase off-line

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, online auction websites like Ebay have strict policies to deter would-be scammers.

So if a seller asks you to communicate with them outside the website - sometimes under the guise the auction winner has pulled out - be careful as the site's administrators will not be able to help you if you are scammed.

You don't stay cynical

As the old saying goes, if something is too good to be true, it probably is.

A key scam warning sign is if the "product is advertised at an unbelievably low price, or advertised to have amazing benefits or features that sound too good to be true", says the ACCC.

You don't check if the website is secure

A secure website will always begin with "https://", not "http://" and display a close padlock icon, warns the Queensland Government.

If these two things aren't visible, the website may not be from a reputable trader and you should be wary of entering your personal and credit card details.


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