Harvey business loses $4k in scam

Headshot of Nicolette Barbas
Nicolette BarbasHarvey-Waroona Reporter

A well-known Harvey business was the victim of a phone scam totalling $4000, money the business may never see again.

On June 7 the business owner received a call from a man who went by the name of James to say that his uncle “Michael Walsh” was auctioning the contents of his appliance store and that he was offering commercial appliances to small businesses at a good price.

He convincingly offered the owner a range of Skope fridges retailing at $4000 for $400 as well as two 85-inch Samsung televisions.

The business owner asked James to send through images of the products before agreeing to purchase the fridges and televisions, totalling $4000.

James told the owner he was loading up the truck and would be in Harvey within the hour and asked him to transfer the money into his account.

“I transferred the money and waited for him to come,” the business owner said.

“It was around 5pm and I still hadn’t heard from him so I texted him to find out his ETA to which he replied “cheers mate”.

After still hearing no word from James, the owner tried phoning and texting him on Saturday to see if the goods were to arrive that day but received no response.

“He said he had visited our store numerous times and resided in Cookernup, it was extremely convincing,” the business owner said.

He said he wanted the public to be aware of the incident.

“This person is ringing around Australia and taking money from small businesses, and I hope this comes as a warning sign to people so they can avoid getting stung like we did,” he said.

Since the start of 2019, South West Consumer Protection ha reported 139 “buying and selling” scam victims and an amount of loss totalling $496,750.

Consumer Protection co-ordinator for the South West region Annetta Bellingeri said individuals needed to be wary of cold calls.

“When you’re dealing with anybody that you’re seeking to purchase goods from you really need to establish that they are a business and have a physical trading address that you can do searches on to ensure it is a business premises not a home address,” Ms Bellingeri said.

“Generally people offering you deals that are too good to be true will have a very convincing back story as to why the goods are available so it is important you know who you are dealing with before agreeing to transfer sums of money.”

When making transactions over the phone, Ms Bellingeri suggested avoiding unsecured payment methods and opting to use services such as PayPal.

“If you’re transferring money into someone’s bank account just be aware that there is no way of reversing the transaction.”

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