Publishers are being used by fraudsters who have resorted to ID theft to scam money from readers, with the latest using the details of a genuine Queensland communications company.
In recent weeks a person claiming to be from Commex Communications has been attempting to place advertisements in a number of publications. On each occasion the advertiser has provided a registered business name, address and ABN, all of which are legitimate. Unfortunately, they had been stolen from the real business of that name.
Commex Communications is a genuine local business located at Windsor in Queensland. It supplies wireless products, systems and services to clients in the commercial and government sectors and is accredited under the Government Information Technology Contracting Framework.
The published advertisements offer electronic devices such as iPhone and iPads at very low prices (an example of one of the advertisements appears below). Should a reader contact the advertiser to purchase an item he or she are asked to pay for the purchase via Western Union.
The scammer gets the money and the purchaser does not get the goods.
Scammers are criminals and they trade off the name of authentic businesses to obtain goods and services on credit from suppliers, frequently using stolen credit cards.
Publishers can only do so much, particularly if correct business details are provided, but if a masthead knowingly prints an ad that is deceptive and misleading it is a breach of Australian consumer law.
Mastheads should be aware of alerts in regard to these forms of ads, but the adage of “if something is too good to be true then it generally is” carries weight. The ad in question, purportedly from Commex, which claims “New Released Apple iPhone 5S 64GB, Samsung Galaxy S5 (Buy 3 get 1 free) $500” definitely falls into that category.
Fraudulent business transactions have a considerable impact on businesses with the Australian Crime Commission estimating that the cost of this fraud to the Australian economy is approximately $15 billion each year.
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