Fraud warning: Tinana woman beats caravan scam

A TINANA woman has almost become the victim of a sophisticated scam being operated by fraudsters purporting to use eBay as a middleman.

A scam involving the sale of a caravan similar to this one was discovered by a Tinana woman on Tuesday.

A TINANA woman has almost become the victim of a sophisticated scam being operated by fraudsters purporting to use eBay as a middleman while actually seeking to divert funds into private accounts.

The Chronicle reader spotted a classified advertisement in the Fraser Coast Chronicle's Tuesday classifieds section advertising a caravan for sale about $10,000 below market price.

There was an email and a Qld telephone number supplied at the bottom of the ad which ran with a picture of a caravan, seven descriptive lines and a price tag of $9800.

The reader tried to ring the number but was diverted to a message service where she lodged a request that the vendors make contact.

She then emailed the vendor and was sent in return a detailed list of the features and merits of the caravan.

Also contained in that email was a detailed set of instructions as to how to go forward with the purchase.

These included promises of full refunds if dissatisfied, and advice that the transaction must be conducted through eBay Australia.

The reader was supposed to deposit $9800 via a link to "eBay Australia Auction Payment Service".

This was explained as a direct bank deposit, with assurances given the funds would then be transferred to eBay.

The reader, who asked not to be named, was told this step was not a payment in advance but simply a way to demonstrate that there were sufficient funds to pay for the caravan, which was then to be transported interstate to the buyer for a 10-day inspection period.

In various forums online, including postings about the eBay site, there is an abundance of anecdotal evidence that this step is where the fraud is perpetrated.

The deposit is made into an account that has nothing to do with eBay, eBay being in no way involved with the transaction nor the scam except to the extent its name is being hijacked by the fraudster.

Once the deposit is made the hopeful buyer cannot recoup the funds and the fraud has been successful.

The Chronicle attempted to contact eBay but the company's telephone service directs callers to the website where customers are advised inquires will be answered within 24 hours where possible.

A response about the scam was not forthcoming before going to print.

Australian Provincial Newspapers, publisher of the Fraser Coast Chronicle, through its customer relations and digital administration team leader Laura Harrison said: "We have investigated and found that the advert was placed over the phone with a Brisbane address and phone number and the media sales consultant in the call centre had no reason to believe the ad was fraudulent at the time.

"Our investigation has uncovered that all numbers we have for this customer (one in the advert and two in the email response below) all divert to the same voice message.

"Based on this we have cancelled the advert immediately and emailed the customer to advise."