Buyers losing thousands to discount outboard engine sales scams

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Buyers losing thousands to discount outboard engine sales scams

Heading online to find a new outboard engine? You need to do your homework or risk losing your money

Online scammers targeting outboard engine buyers have had another good Christmas, prompting warnings from the consumer watchdog that some of the outboard engine bargains out there are still too good to be true.

One buyer alone is believed to have lost more than $10,000 after phoning an outboard engine manufacturer to chase up his order weeks after he expected it to be delivered. By the time he realised the website he’d visited was fake, and his credit card payment had vanished, it was too late.

The latest spate of bogus websites selling heavily discounted outboard engines comes two years after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) issued a warning that engine buyers were being targeted.

>> Fraudulent Suzuki outboard sales in Australia

The ACCC told boatsales.com.au that its Scamwatch service – which monitors sham websites – had received 17 reports of websites purporting to sell outboard engines between November 26 and January 10 this year, with reported losses amounting to almost $17,000 – much lower than what is believed to be the real figure.

History repeats itself

“Scam websites themed around outboard motors have also been reported to Scamwatch in previous years,” an ACCC spokesperson told boatsales.com.au.

“As ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard stated in a 2017 media release, scammers running these sites will advertise goods, often well-known and trusted brands, at unbelievably low prices to lure in unsuspecting consumers shopping around for a good deal.

“If something looks too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.”

In the latest round of fake offers, scammers have used legitimate-looking websites that closely follow the outboard engine manufacturers’ look and feel, and offer up to a 40 per cent discount on the price of a new motor.

The sites, which this time around appear to use the word “outboard” following the manufacturer’s name rather than “outboards” in their website URLs, include contact details that do not give the full street address of the manufacturer – only the suburb and state. Phone numbers on the websites have been disconnected.

They weill even block the outboard engine manufacturers from accessing the websites.

Big business

Online scamming is big business in Australia. Last year, Scamwatch received more than 9600 reports about online shopping scams, with losses totalling more than $3.2 million.

The ACCC warns that while many online sellers are legitimate, scammers can use sophisticated designs, stolen logos, “.com.au” domain names, and stolen ABNs, to set up fake retailer websites that look like genuine online retail stores.

It says these sites will often ask people to pay through a money order, preloaded money card, or wire transfer, but the person will not receive their products.

The ACCC says consumers can check for potential scams by:

  • Doing independent research before making any purchases. Ensure the store has information about privacy, terms and conditions of use, and contact details.
  • Searching for online reviews about the business, and only make payments using a secure payment service – look for a URL starting with ‘https’ and a closed padlock symbol, or through a payment provider such as Paypal.

People who think they have been scammed may be able to arrange a charge-back through their bank or credit union if they paid by credit card. Their local consumer protection agency may also be able to assist.

Duped buyers can also go to the ACCC website to report scams and find more information about protecting themselves and where to get help.

Disclaimer

In most cases, boatsales.com.au attends new vehicle launches and other events at the invitation and expense of vehicle manufacturers, importers and/or distributors.

Editorial prices shown are a “price guide” only, based on information provided to us by the manufacturer. Pricing guide current at the time of writing editorial. When purchasing a vehicle, always confirm the single figure price with the seller.

If the price does not contain the notation that it is “Drive Away No More to Pay”, the price may not include additional costs, such as stamp duty and other government charges.

Opinions expressed within boatsales.com.au editorial material are those of the writer and not necessarily carsales.com Ltd.

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