SCAMMERS are using “sophisticated methods” to defraud customs brokers and freight forwarders, the Department of Home Affairs says.

In a statement published online, the Department’s Border Watch program has been made aware of several incidents.

According to the Department, scammers typically use false identities and may use a fictional name.

Scammers may devise an elaborate story to convince their target to make a payment, transfer money or extend a line of credit.

Over time, requests may become more direct or persistent.

Money paid to scammers can rarely be recovered.

According to the department, if you think you’re being scammed:

  • Don’t pay the scammer. If you already have, contact your bank or financial institution immediately
  • Report a scam to the ACCC’s Scamwatch via www.scamwatch.gov.au/report-a-scam
  • Consider notifying your industry association.
  • Report suspicious customs and trade activity to Border Watch. 
ADVERTISEMENT  

Recent examples have included:

  • A man contacted a customs broker to clear a valuable consignment from the Netherlands. The man presented a Queensland driver’s license and Australian passport. He said he was currently travelling overseas and unable to access his bank account, so the broker agreed to pay the Dutch transport company under a credit arrangement. It was only after sending money to a Dutch bank account the broker realised the transport company did not exist. The man could no longer be contacted and the broker was unable to recuperate the funds.
  • A woman asked a freight forwarder to help her with a shipment of gold bullion from Ghana. She provided an email from “Australian Customs” stating the goods were “GST free under the Bequeathed Goods Bylaw”. The forwarder suspected the woman was being scammed, but nonetheless made arrangements to create an account and arrange storage upfront. When the bullion never arrived, the woman refused to pay and the freight forwarder was left with the bill.

Flag it anonymously at www.abf.gov.au/borderwatch

ADVERTISEMENT