PORT CITY SCAM: Con artists target small business
International scammers have targeted a small Gladstone business and made attempts to steal its customers’ money.
Port City Meats owners Hannah and Scott Avis were made aware of the scam last Sunday after several customers came forward about suspicious activity from social media.
Concern was raised when a Facebook and Instagram profile impersonating their small business started friend-requesting and contacting customers to send credit card details over messenger.
Mrs Avis said the fake social media account, Port-City Meats, asked customers to register for an event before directing them to website that is known to run scams.
Ms Avis said one customer nearly fell for the scam.
“We will never ask for credit card details or send you a friend request, as a business page we will only ask for invites for page likes,” Mrs Avis said.
“One of our customers actually did put her credit card details in but she was able to get out of it.”
Mrs Avis had traced the social media account to Indonesia, where it is believed the scam originated from.
Mrs Avis said she had reported the fake account to Facebook numerous times, but the social media giant did not recognise the page as a scam.
“Facebook said the page did not broach any of their community guidelines,” she said.
“The sad fact is Facebook is a computer itself.
“Facebook does a cross reference check and sees if there is no nudity, no foul language- there isn’t a problem.”
Mrs Avis believes the scam targets businesses with a solid social media following and who often do giveaways.
“We often do giveaways and specials, I think they saw that and thought our customers would be gullible enough to fall for it.”
Mrs Avis said she was “petrified” about customers losing their money and was worried about her business’ reputation.
“It’s really sad for small businesses … we feel that someone has stolen our identity,” she said.
“That’s what’s heartbreaking to us is that the scam has made its way to a small business.”
Customers are urged to report fake social media profiles, not provide credit card details nor click on any links in messenger.