Buyer beware: Tech toys lure online shoppers into scams

Check authenticity of logos and links

Australians love their smartphones and other tech gadgets, but should resist the temptation to buy something “cheap” from an overseas website as the potential for getting scammed is alive and well.

The Internet is littered with smartphone offers that appear significantly better than what local retailers and telcos, but in many cases they are turning out too good to be true.

Sydney-based musician Danielle Lonnon was one such victim when she attempted to purchase a new Samsung Galaxy S II for less than $500 from a website called

“The website was pretty slick and I e-mailed them and asked about paying with Paypal and they said their PayPal transaction limit was exceeded, which I found strange,” Lonnon said.

“I paid by Western Union and got a receipt and e-mail. The tracking number for the delivery indicated the parcel arrived in Sydney, but didn’t arrive at my house and instead was ‘sent to Goulburn’.”

When a friend told her she may have been scammed, Lonnon then used another e-mail account and send a copy of the original the invoice and changed the date. The website then sent through a new tracking number which further indicated to her it was a scam.

“They did respond, but it was always the same person. I wrote in Chinese characters that you are fraudsters and they said no, but that was eight weeks ago,” she said.

“If you look at the bottom of the website, two logos, particularly the Verisign one, are fake and should actually be links.”

While the site presents itself as being from China, it is hosted on an IP address in a network operated by GoDaddy in Arizona.

“Beware of cheap Chinese electronics is the moral of the story,” Lonnon said. “It is quite an ingenious, beautiful scam.”

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which operates the SCAMwatch portal, buyers can take a number of steps to avoid becoming a victim.

SCAMwatch has several check points people can use to help identify and online shopping or auction scam and Lonnon intends on reporting her experience on the portal.

Late last year the ACCC released a guide for safe online shopping, and more recently the report into online scams for 2010 was released. See this report for the key findings.

As for Danielle’s new smarpthone, she bought one from retailer All Phones.

“I then went and flashed the standard UK 2.3.3 stock ROM using Odin [as I] didn't want any of that Optus bloatware,” she said.

“I have to admit it is rather impressive, fast and powerful plus the added bonus – it makes phone calls.”

Follow Rodney Gedda on Twitter: @rodneygedda

Follow TechWorld Australia on Twitter: @Techworld_AU

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Tags smartphonese-commercescamsonline shoppingAustralian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)

More about Australian Competition and Consumer CommissionAustralian Competition and Consumer CommissionetworkGalaxyOptusPayPalSamsungVeriSign AustraliaWestern Union

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