BE WARY: Trevor Barrett from Trev’s Kitchens warns other businesses about scammers.
BE WARY: Trevor Barrett from Trev’s Kitchens warns other businesses about scammers. Brenda Strong

Advertising tricksters target Gladstone business with scam

A GLADSTONE business has been hit up for around $3000 in advertising costs it didn't order, the latest in many scams targeting cashed-up Gladstone residents.

Trevor Barrett became suspicious when his kitchen business began receiving similar-looking invoices from organisations based in different areas or with differing names.

He has received close to 20 advertisement invoices via post or email, ranging from $350 to $600, and are often followed up by threatening accounts from people demanding payment.

SCAMwatch, run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, reports that false billing is one of the top scams that small businesses fall prey to.

Mr Barrett said once he paid a few of the bills he was bombarded with invoices.

"The volume came through as if to say, you're an easy target, let's get in now," he said.

"I paid out $2000-3000 before I realised and stopped."

He stopped paying the accounts and informed Gladstone police and the ACCC, and began asking questions.

He said many of the advertisers were from legitimate magazines and publishing houses, and when they showed proof the ad was published in some cases, he said he almost felt obliged to pay.

"There are quite a number of tricks you have to look out for," he said.

"But there's no way to make it stop - you just have to make people aware."

PROTECT YOURSELF

  • Make sure the business billing you is the one you normally deal with.
  • Always check that goods or services were both ordered and delivered before paying an invoice.
  • Never agree to any business proposal on the phone: always ask for an offer in writing.
  • Report a scam to SCAMwatch (the ACCC) online or via 1300 795 995.