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Shoppers Warned of Fake Websites and Scam Ads Ahead of Mother’s Day

Statistics reveal that May ranks among the peak months for fraudulent activities, urging consumers to exercise discretion in their transactions.
Cover Image Source: Beware of Mother's Day scams (represenPexels | Photo by PhotoMIX Company
Cover Image Source: Beware of Mother's Day scams (represenPexels | Photo by PhotoMIX Company

As Mother’s Day approaches, the state government has issued a cautionary alert to Victorians, emphasizing the need for heightened vigilance while purchasing gifts, particularly online. Statistics reveal that May ranks among the peak months for fraudulent activities, urging consumers to exercise discretion in their transactions. Gabrielle Williams, the Consumer Affairs Minister, urged Victorians, including residents of Brimbank, to remain vigilant against potential scams as they shop for Mother’s Day gifts ahead of the May 12 celebration, per Star Weekly. The minister specifically highlighted the risks associated with online shopping, citing data that underscores the prevalence of scams during this period.

Pexels | Photo by Jonathan Borba
Pexels | Photo by Jonathan Borba

According to data from the Commonwealth Government’s National Anti-Scam Centre, May witnessed a significant surge in fraudulent activities in 2023, recording over 25,000 complaints nationwide and a reported loss of $53.2 million to scammers. This makes May the second-highest month for scams after January during which $53.3 million in losses were reported. The upcoming Mother’s Day holiday on May 12 is particularly susceptible to online shopping scams, with consumers falling victim to fake websites and misleading advertisements promising nonexistent goods at attractive prices. Scammers frequently exploit reputable platforms by posting counterfeit advertisements, often appearing on genuine websites, online classifieds, and auction platforms.

To avoid falling victim to such scams, consumers are advised to exercise caution, verify the authenticity of sellers and websites, and refrain from making payments for goods that seem suspicious or excessively discounted. Scammers frequently instruct buyers to use money-wiring services for transactions, alongside employing fake money payment platforms and escrow websites that mimic legitimate services. Additionally, some scammers pose as buyers themselves, deceiving sellers into sending goods without any payment exchanged.

Pexels |  Photo by Leeloo The First
Pexels | Photo by Leeloo The First

In one common tactic, scammers feign overpayment and then request sellers to refund the excess amount. They often use forged emails that appear to originate from reputable companies offering money transfers or payment services. Consumer Affairs Minister Gabrielle Williams emphasized that the lead-up to Mother’s Day represents a prime period for shopping scams. "Be cautious when shopping for Mother’s Day – exercise skepticism towards sellers offering goods and popular brands at unusually low prices, and opt for secure payment methods such as Paypal or credit cards," she advised.

Getty Images | Photo by Spencer Platt
Getty Images | Photo by Spencer Platt

Consumers seeking guidance on scam prevention or assistance if they fall victim to scams can access information on the Consumer Affairs Victoria website at Mother’s Day is just around the corner, but unfortunately, scammers are also gearing up for the occasion, ready to spoil the celebration. The Better Business Bureau reports a surge in scams targeting florists and jewelry around this time of year. For those looking to send gifts from afar, a quick online search for local florists or an enticing pop-up ad offering Mother’s Day discounts on jewelry might seem like convenient options. However, the BBB warns consumers to be cautious.

"Always double and triple-check the URL, especially when browsing on mobile devices, as the shortened version can obscure critical details," advised Josh Planos, Vice President of Communications at the Better Business Bureau. "This could hide deceptive characters that redirect you to a fraudulent site." When purchasing gift cards online, the BBB advises consumers to verify the legitimacy of the website to ensure a safe transaction. In preparation for Mother's Day, EE has provided valuable tips to safeguard against scams, which remain relevant beyond the holiday season.

They advise you to stop, think, and trust your instincts. If an offer seems too good to be true or feels suspicious, it likely is. If you receive a call from someone unfamiliar and feel uncertain, it's perfectly acceptable to terminate the call. Never disclose personal information or grant access to your computer to unknown individuals. If you accidentally divulge banking details, promptly inform your bank to mitigate potential risks. Ensure your devices are regularly updated with the latest software and security measures to enhance protection against cyber threats.