Fashionistas are being scammed out of thousands of dollars as fraudulent websites disguise themselves as an online store for the popular Australian retailer Witchery.
The scams are being served as internet advertisements, with suspicious-looking bit.ly links and sales too good to be true, prompting a new warning for shoppers.
In less than a month, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) told 7NEWS.com.au it has received 43 reports of the Witchery scam, which has claimed $7605 from shoppers between 25 August to 19 September.
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The scam is targeting shoppers in Australia and New Zealand, and an ACCC spokesperson says “advertisements for these sites have been reported on social networking sites, as pop-up advertisements on mobile games, as advertisements while browsing the internet, and by email.”
“We urge individuals to watch out for websites selling products at prices that seem too good to be true.”
The advertisements boast clearance sales and discounts of up to 80 per cent, but their other red flags are the suspicious looking links, and the fact there is no option to select payments methods such as Afterpay and Zip Pay.
Once clicking on the link, shoppers can select items for purchase as they would during a regular online transaction, before entering their payment details, handing their money over to the scammers.
Perth shopper Lisa told 7NEWS.com.au “I’m out of pocket for $319”. She contacted Witchery on Facebook for an explanation.
Witchery confirmed it had “no affiliation or connection” with the scam or the websites.
A takedown request for the fraudulent website has been issued by Witchery, the company told Lisa in its response.
It added that no official trading occurs outside of websites hosted by the following domain names: witchery.com.au, witchery.co.nz, and witchery.com.
Witchery told 7NEWS.com.au: “These are the only domains where Witchery sell products to customers (excluding The Iconic and David Jones).”
“Any other domains purporting to Witchery are fraudulent and should be reported to the user’s social media provider.
“Professional scam groups are targeting businesses, like Witchery by advertising clearance and sale websites through fake advertisements on Facebook and Instagram.
“Increasingly sophisticated scammers continue to devise convincing retailer websites to dupe consumers into believing they’re purchasing goods online from legitimate businesses.”
New Zealand shopper and scam victim Haley Mintor said: “I was just so excited (about) the prices.”
“The amount for the items purchased was withdrawn from her account, but so was an additional amount. “I purchased $165 and then another $42 was taken,” she said.
Witchery and an ACCC spokesperson told 7NEWS.com.au those who had fallen victim to the scam should immediately contact their bank.
“Most victims paid by credit card and have faced the additional inconvenience of cancelling their credit card,” an ACCC spokesperson said.
Another scam victim, NSW woman Bronwyn Kurtukoff called her bank the following day, and was told they had “to wait until the goods aren’t sent”.
Her card has since been cancelled and the bank “are looking into it to get funds back which can take up to 30 days”.
Witchery told 7NEWS.com.au it was “proactively working with store network teams and customer service teams to ensure customers are not making purchases through any other domains not owned directly by the brand.”
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