Shipping container scam money lost at sea

WA Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety
  • Fake websites selling shipping containers ripping off WA consumers
  • Almost $55,000 lost by scam victims in the past four months
  • Others caught by a bogus container leasing investment scheme
  • WA consumers in the market for shipping containers are being scammed by fake websites with losses for 2022 already exceeding the total for the entire year of 2021.

    Eight victims have reported to WA ScamNet at Consumer Protection losing a total of almost $54,500 so far this year, compared to losses of almost $49,000 in 2021. The highest individual loss for 2022 was $12,150 and $13,000 in 2021.

    Shipping containers are in strong demand from consumers who use them for storage or transport, or may want to convert them into living quarters.

    Victims are lured to the fake websites by advertisements on online marketplaces such as Facebook or Gumtree. After purchase, they are sent an invoice to pay by direct bank transfer and then, once paid, hear nothing more from the bogus business.

    Some victims report, however, that demands for more money are sometimes made using the excuses of delivery issues, customs clearances and/or insurance fees.

    Executive Director for Consumer Protection Trish Blake said there are some key signs to watch out for that indicate the website is a trap.

    “Be very suspicious when goods are being advertised well below market prices and the only way to pay is by bank transfer, as these are signs of a possible scam,” Ms Blake said.

    “It is important to only use secure payment methods such as a credit card or PayPal which allow you to dispute transactions when you do not receive the goods or something goes wrong.

    “Take the time to locate the website of the legitimate business and make independent contact to verify whether the offer is genuine. Also do an internet search of the website and business and read the comments and reviews from other consumers who have used the same site.”

    Another scam involving shipping containers relates to an investment scheme in which consumers are offered the chance to ‘lease’ a container with promised returns of up to 20 per cent when it is re-leased.

    “While some victims report receiving small dividends from their investment, the payments soon stop and the promoters of the scheme can’t be contacted,” Ms Blake said.

    “Consumers are strongly advised to ignore any advertisements promising huge profits from shipping container investments as it is likely a scam or a Ponzi scheme.”

    /Public Release. View in full here.