LISTEN: International ship scam hits central Queensland
AN INTERNATIONAL advertising scam that is being investigated nation wide reached central Queensland this week.
It seemed like a deal too good to be true - and that's because it was.
This week, a seller, claiming to be from Rockhampton, listed a 2007 caravan for $`14,000 in The Observer's and the Morning Bulletin's notices this week.
The scam is connected to a three-year long scour involving an international shipping company that has been undesirably associated.
The phone connected to the ad has an automated message bank.
The seller contacts the person interested, saying they are in the UK and the caravan was left to them from their deceased uncle.
He then explains it is located at the Mediterranean Shipping Company Fremantle office and can be delivered anywhere in Australia for free.
Yet MSC, a cargo shipping company, does not deliver motor vehicle goods, and never has.
MSC senior risk analyst Dorain Moga said for three years they have fielded calls from people interested in seeing a car, motorbike or boat that is at one of their offices.
The scam involves used vehicles, motorcycles, caravans and boats being advertised for sale through trading websites and local newspapers
Mr Moga said every three months a new scam ad would appear somewhere in Australia or New Zealand, either in a newspaper or online.
"The most frustrating part is to talk to people who are the victims.
"Some of them have been successful to retrieve the money depending on how quickly they approach the bank." Mr Moga said they have regular contact with the NSW and Victoria Police, who are both investigating the scam.
Australia's top online scam investigator, Australian Cyber crime Online Reporting Network is also involved.
The Observer understands the bodies have some international suspects being investigated.
Additionally to the fake ads for motor vehicles and boats, MSC has also come across fake websites.
In a bid to warn customers, MSC has made a public statement on its website, explaining it's correlation, or lack thereof, with the online scams.
"The scam involves used vehicles, motorcycles, caravans and boats being advertised for sale through trading websites and local newspapers."
"Mediterranean Shipping Company is not involved in the scam and has informed the relevant authorities to open an investigation. MSC is also taking action to have any fake MSC websites closed down immediately," it reads.
"We don't want to be associated with this scam," Mr Moga said.
"Despite our efforts it seems to just keep on happening."
The ad has been taken out of both APN newspapers.
Kirk Porter (pictured) a Gladstone resident who approached the seller via telephone, said he also saw the exact advertisement on EBay.
APN Australian Regional Media, owner of The Observer and Morning Bulletin papers, has a small team that coordinates public notices.
A classifieds spokesperson said must like other consumer marketplaces, we receive scam advertisements from advertisers offering to "ship" big ticket items to potential buyers once they have transferred the money to the seller.
"Whilst we try to catch all scam ads before they are published, some do on occasion slip through the cracks, however we are usually notified by consumers if they feel the ad is suspicious then we investigate and remove the ad if it's suspected as being a scam ad.
Things consumers can keep an eye out for include the price of the item is lower than what it should be, the contact details or email is from overseas or the seller requests money to be transferred prior to viewing the item.
If readers are suspicious of an advertisement, contact 1300 136 181.