Once again, malicious online scammers are targeting Australian retail businesses with authentic-looking emails that attempt to place product orders using false names and stolen credit cards.

Typically, retailers receive an email from an unknown overseas buyer wanting to place a large international order.

Representing an important sale for your business, it’s exactly the kind of proposition that Linii Tasmania founder and AGHA Member Joris Roell can attest to receiving.

“My business exports to many different countries across Asia and the United States, and before any order is placed, a genuine buyer will generally ask several questions relating to product pricing, retail margins and shipping costs in a conversation that could stretch up to 20-30 interactions,” Roell said.

“The scammer will place an online order in a very short amount of time and encourage you to quickly process the payment using a freshly stolen credit card,” he explained.

“Once the freight company has collected your stock to be sent overseas, the shipment is then stopped halfway by the purchaser and redirected to a new address.”

The result is often a heavy sting to your business once the valuable stock has been freighted overseas, and the banking institution has reclaimed the stolen funds from your own bottom line, as liability rests with you to provide satisfactory evidence regarding the transaction.

“Although the buyer in my case had a legitimate address, the shop was mostly selling stuff from Morocco, and their name didn't check out. Google couldn’t find any trace of them online or on social media,” Roell added.

“If the bank confirms that the credit card transaction wasn’t genuine, not only can the vendor lose their stock, but the bank can also repossess the purchase amount straight from your merchant account because there was no proof of identification.”

As the peak industry body, the Australian Gift and Homewares Association (AGHA) recommends that if you have any doubts about a transaction, then proceed with caution. We also encourage you to report scams to help warn others.

Here’s five handy tips that may prevent you from being scammed:

1. Never accept credit card information that doesn’t match the identity of the purchaser. Always seek proof of identity before you process any personal banking information.

2. Implement a robust verification process that includes confirming the business credentials, email address and full name of the person who places the order.  

3. Limit the number of people in your business who are authorised to make orders or pay invoices, and if you notice suspicious activity then immediately cut any contact with scammers and report it to the ACCC.

4. Don’t click on links in emails that request you to update any banking information as scammers often copy email and text messages from legitimate companies to trick you. To change any business service details, contact the business service directly.

5. Keep in mind that scammers will often say they want to use their preferred shipping company to control transportation of the product and then redirect it to an unknown destination. Use this as a potential red flag when providing goods.

For further information, please contact AGHA at 1300 441 384 or contact Scamwatch