Friday 12 November 2010

More scams in Cairns than you can point a wet season at

In recent weeks, there's been a number of scams in Cairns ranging from phone, email and door-to-door scams, so it's time to be vigilant.

Yesterday a woman received a phone call from a person claiming to work for the Queensland Energy Board, which does not exist.

The caller offered an easy to use energy saving product at a price and then attempted to coerce the last 12 digits of the woman’s credit card to secure the sale. The woman said she would not give that information over the phone.

"We already have your credit card number, we just need your three digit code on the back of the credit card," the scammer said. The woman ended the phone call, quickly followed by an abusive return call minutes later by a man with a foreign accent.

In another scam, Cairns restaurants have been contacted by email and asked to provide a booking for multiple guests over a number of nights whilst clients were in town. The scam involves an email from an international business wishing to book a restaurant for multiple clients and then relies on requesting direct phone numbers to make arrangements for credit card authorisations to be processed.

Cairns Police are reminding people if they are approached by someone asking for money transfers or to provide credit card details, to ensure they are legitimate.

"Never rush into any transaction. Always take your time and seek independent advice before making any decisions," Acting Sergeant Cary Coolican says. "Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, chances are it is. Just ask yourself, if a stranger knew of a quick way to make money, would they be telling you about it."

Meanwhile, Cairns and Townsville folk are being scammed, after being asked money by fakes posing as international students looking to rent a room. They are targeting JCU students.

The Townsville Bulletin reports that Michelle Notman placed a listing on James Cook University's online accommodation service then was contacted by email from someone posing as a 24-year-old UK student who wanted to study at the university.

The Nigerian scam, called a cheque overpayment scam, sees a fraudster send their victim a cheque for more money than requested and subsequently asks for the extra cash to be wired back into their account, the Bulletin says.

During an elaborate ruse including dozens of emails, "Pamela" exchanged correspondence with Ms Notman, asking about the room and sending through photographs before finally asking for personal details to send through a cheque to cover the bond, which was overpaid, and the difference should be returned. How gullible are people?

There's heaps of info about how scams work at ScamWatch.

Anyone with information which could assist police with their investigations should contact Cairns Police 4030 7000, Smithfield Police on 4057 1900, or Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or Crime Stoppers 24hrs a day.

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